Celebrating Spring: Potato Sambar

You know, when something is good, it becomes a classic. This potato sambar, for example. I remember two generations before me, my mother and grandmother, enjoying this delicious and hearty dish. Idly and potato sambar – “more amma…” I would always ask for more when I was a child. Who knew digging into the earth for potatoes would unearth all these precious memory jewels as well! Fresh produce patriotism plus the nostalgia – that’s what this potato sambar is for me now.

I realize that potatoes are not for everyone in this calorie-conscious atmosphere. But baby and new crop potatoes are truly wonderful, and I do think they are worth that extra mile walk.

Toor Dal Mash, Pearl Onions, Tomato and Red Potatoes for Potato Sambar
Toor Dal Mash, Pearl Onions, Tomato and Red Potatoes for Potato Sambar

Potato Sambar
(for 2 or 4, for 4 to 2 meals)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup, Toor dal
2 medium sized, fresh potatoes. Cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds (no dice)
10 pearl onions, peel the skin and cut off the ends
1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
Half lime-sized tamarind
1 tablespoon, sambar powder
1/4 teaspoon each, red chilli powder and turmeric powder
1 teaspoon, salt or to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

For Curry Leaf Tadka:
2 teaspoons, peanut oil
One sprig of fresh curry leaves, 6 small dry red chilli pieces, 1/4 teaspoon each – mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and hing

Method:
Toor dal: In a heavy cooking pot or pressure cooker, take toor dal. Wash and clean the dal. Add two cups of water, quarter teaspoon of turmeric. Mix, cover and cook until the dal is soft and then mash it to smooth paste. Keep it aside.

Tamarind: Soak half lime-sized ball of tamarind in one cup of warm water for 15 minutes. Squeeze it out between your fingers to extract the juice and discard the pith and seeds.

Prepare the Sambar: In a big pot, heat to medium and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chillies, mustard seeds, fenugreek, hing and curry leaves and saute for 2 minutes. Add the onion and brown lightly. Add the potatoes and tomatoes. Cook, partially covered until potatoes are fork-tender.

Add the tamarind extract, mashed toor dal that was kept aside to the vegetables. Stir in sambar powder, red chilli powder and salt. Add a cup of water. Allow this to boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and remove from heat.

Serve potato sambar warm with rice, idlies or vada. Or fill a cup with sambar and sip with a spoon. However you serve, potato sambar makes a nutritious and satisfying meal.

Potato Sambar and Rava Idly
Potato Sambar and Rava Idly ~ A Meal, Last Weekend

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