Cooking is one of my passions. I like to make nutritious and tasty foods at home without using preservatives or artificial colors.
Sambar: The Best Side Dish With Rice
Nearly every day, we make sambar, which is a curry that we eat with boiled rice. The two go very well together and make a wholesome meal that is delicious, light on the stomach, and easy to digest.
There are many ways of making this curry. You can make it using raw masala, fried masala, or even without masala. Each variety has its unique taste and flavor. We select the type of masala or spices to be used according to the veggies used; you want the flavors to be complementary.
Now, let me show you how we make mogem sambar in an authentic way. Mogem, or Madras cucumber, is a soft and tasty vegetable that is well suited for this recipe. We don't use garam masala spices in this preparation.
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- 500 grams mogem (Madras cucumber)
- 1 cup grated coconut
- 2/3 cup split red gram (split pigeon peas)
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 small lemon-sized tamarind, soaked in water
- small lemon size jaggery or powdered jaggery
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
For the masala:
- 1/4 teaspoon or less fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 6 curry leaves
- 4 dry red chilies, hot variety
- 5 dry red chilies (mainly for color; not so hot variety; I used Byadigi chili)
- 1/4 teaspoon white raw rice (optional, gives thick texture)
- 3-4 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
- Wash mogem (Madras cucumber). Cut in half. Remove the seeds and connected soft flesh. If the mogem is mature, remove the skin. If tender, no need to peel the skin. Chop it in about 1-inch cubes. Set aside.
- Wash split pigeon peas in water. Add fresh water to completely immerse them. Add chopped mogem, some turmeric powder, and a little salt to the same container. Mix well.
- Keep the container inside the pressure cooker and cook up to a whistle and simmer for 7-8 minutes. Turn off the heat. Open the lid once the pressure releases naturally.
- Make the masala: Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a small pan. Add fenugreek seeds and raw white rice. Saute for 5 seconds. Add cumin seeds, broken dry red chilies, and curry leaves. Saute for 30 seconds. Throw in coriander seeds. Mix for 2-3 seconds, just to warm it up. Turn off the heat. Mix a bit more to prevent any burning. Set aside to cool.
- Add it to a mixer or blender. Add grated coconut. Grind while adding water to get a near-smooth paste.
- Add the cooked mogem and the lentil mixture to a vessel in which you are going to make the sambar. Add ground masala paste, tamarind pulp, jaggery, and some salt. Remember that you have already added salt to the cooked lentils and mogem, so be careful about not adding too much salt at this stage. Stir well.
- Boil the mixture on low fire for 5 minutes. Add sufficient water to get the proper consistency. Sambar curry should be neither thin nor thick.
- Add chopped coriander leaves. Tempering the sambar is not mandatory. It tastes good even without that. I don't recommend adding more oil by way of tempering.
- Mogem sambar curry is piping hot and inviting! Serve with boiled rice, idlis, or any bland dish. Happy eating!
- You can replace mogem (Madras cucumber) with any other vegetable of your choice to make a similar sambar curry.
- Add diced onions in the last step while boiling the curry for enhanced taste and flavor.
- This curry remains fresh for up to a day at room temperature. In the refrigerator, it will keep well for 2-3 days.