Sambar is a lentil based vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth made with tamarind popular in South India. Sambar is made either exclusively with one of these vegetables or a combination of them – okra, carrot, radish, pumpkin, potatoes, tomatoes, brinjal(eggplant) and whole or halved shallots or onions. Sambar powder is a coarse powder made of roasted lentils, dried whole red chilies, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves with regional variations including cumin, black pepper, grated coconut, cinnamon, or other spices. The vegetables, tamarind pulp, sambar powder, turmeric, salt, and asafoetida are boiled together, until the vegetables are half-cooked. After the vegetables are half cooked, the lentils are added and allowed to cook until the vegetables are done. Sambar is garnished with fresh curry leaves or coriander leaves. Mustard seeds, black gram, and dried red chillies, and curry leaves tempered in vegetable oil is added to the cooked sambar.
Amongst many varieties of sambhar, Drumstick Sambhar happens to be my all time favorite. The only veggie along with shallots that goes in it is the drunm stick. The tender, juicy drumstick leaves an amazing flavor to the tangy lentil… the best part here is that the more you chew the stick, the more flavorful it turns. A perfect Drunstick Sambhar teamed up with a plate of hot and steaming rice is a divine thing to have.