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South Indian Drumstick Sambar and Aloo Channa Fry

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My name is Lakshmi, and I am a homemaker. I love cooking and experimenting with different recipes, especially those from my native India.

Sambar (also spelled sambhar) and aloo fry make a wonderful lunch menu for South Indian Hindus who prefer vegetarian meals on Fridays. There are two varieties of sambar: one is for breakfast recipes like idli, pongal, and vada; and the other is for rice. Here, I will share the recipe for the latter variety.

We can make a sambar with almost any vegetable (except for root vegetables), but drumstick adds an extraordinary flavor. The main ingredient for this recipe is sambar masala powder, which you can buy in any supermarket or make from scratch at home. Another significant ingredient is dal. Sambar can be made with moong dal, masoor dal, or toor dal—and each one brings a distinct taste to the recipe. I prefer to use toor dal (thuvaram paruppu) for this recipe. Potato is the perfect combination for sambar rice. I like to add channa along with it, which brings a unique taste. If you prefer, you can add green peas instead of channa.

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Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

20 min

35 min

3 to 4 servings


For the sambar:

  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing powder
  • 2 dry chillies
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • Handful of curry leaves
  • 4 teaspoons sambar powder
  • Tamarind, soaked
  • 4 tablespoons toor dal
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 drumsticks, cut into pieces
  • Salt, to taste

For the aloo channa fry:

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small tomatoe
  • Handful of curry leaves
  • 2 potatoes, boiled and cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons channa, boiled
  • 2 teaspoons chilly powder
  • Salt, to taste

Step 1: Make the Sambar

  1. In a pan, cook the toor dal, 1 onion, 1 tomato, and water with a pinch of turmeric until the mixture becomes mushy. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, fenugreek, dry chilies, and a pinch of asafoetida powder. Once the mustard seeds start to splutter, add the remaining onions and curry leaves. Saute for a while. Then add the remaining tomatoes and stir-fry until it becomes soft.
  3. At this stage, add some water, sambar powder, and salt. Boil till the raw smell of sambar powder goes off. Meanwhile, soak a small piece of tamarind in water, extract the juice, and add it to the dal.
  4. Add the dal and tamarind mix into the pan and wait until it starts to boil. Add the drumstick pieces and let it cook another 10 minutes over medium heat. Now the sambar is ready. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with coriander leaves.

Step 2: Make the Aloo Channa Fry

  1. Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they start to splutter, add the onion, tomato, and curry leaves. Saute for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the channa and potatoes until they become soft. Then cut the potatoes into cubes and set aside.
  3. Add the chilly powder and salt into the pan and mix well.
  4. Add the cubed potatoes and channa into the pan and mix well with the masala. Stir-fry for 5 minutes over low heat. The aloo channa fry is now ready to serve along with the sambar.

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