Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pachcha Sambhar - Right out of my mail box to table

Can you comprehend that this post  has been possible because of a discussion thread on facebook?
I opened my facebook to see Aparna 's status message about the 150th edition of the Saveur magazine. That triggered a very long discussion on Sambhar the staple in many South Indian homes.
This thread had so much input from many of us and some interesting insight into how our mothers and grandmothers had used their own techniques and fine tunings to sambhar. We even discussed how it is pronounced and much more. In all that was a very interesting discussion to follow even if you were not a participant.
In the course of the thread food writer and cookbook author Ammini Ramachandran suggested this sambhar she had shared in her book.
I do not have a copy of her book Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts. So I simply requested her to share her recipe which she was kind enough to oblige.
I have copied her message and shared here verbatim. Now read on in Ammini's words the recipe.

"Hi Lata,

Here is the recipe for pacha sambar.It is a light version, does not taste exactly like sambar. Look forward to your verdict after you try it.


Pacha Sambar: Sambar with Fresh Green Spices

Sambar is a staple curry of South India. It is always served with rice and often served for breakfast. Pacha (“green” in Malayalam) sambar is a version prepared only with fresh spices. In this curry, not only must the vegetables be fresh, most of the spices are also green (not dried). For tartness, many curries rely on tamarind; here, it comes from lemon juice.

1 cup tuvar dal
1 medium russet potato or 3 taro, peeled and cubed
2 medium tomatoes cubed
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¾ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
¼ cup finely chopped fresh fenugreek leaves (preferred, if available)
or ½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
6 fresh green chilies (serrano or Thai), thinly sliced (less for a milder taste)
4 tablespoons lemon juice

For seasoning and garnish:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 dried red cayenne, serrano, or Thai chili, halved
¼ teaspoon asafetida powder
20 to 25 fresh curry leaves

Wash and clean the tuvar dal in several changes of water, until the water runs clear. If you are using oily tuvar dal, the oil must be washed off before starting to cook.
Place the tuvar dal in a saucepan with two and a half cups of water and a half-teaspoon of turmeric powder. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, then turn down the heat, and cook for twenty-five to thirty minutes. (As an alternative, you may use a pressure cooker to cook the dal, following the manufacturer’s directions. It will take about six to eight minutes to cook in a pressure cooker.)

As the dal cooks, it should be fairly thick but still liquid; stir in another half-cup of water if it is too thick. Mash the cooked tuvar dal thoroughly with a spoon, and set it aside.
Combine the potato (or taro), tomatoes, salt, turmeric, and two cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat, and bring it to a boil. Stir in the cilantro, fenugreek, and green chilies. Reduce the heat, and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Stir in the cooked tuvar dal, and simmer for four to five minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove it from the heat, and set it aside.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a small skillet, and add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start sputtering, add the halved red chili, asafetida, and curry leaves. Remove it from the stove, and pour the seasoning over the cooked curry. Cover and set aside for ten minutes, to allow the flavors to blend. Serve hot with rice."

I had all the ingredients on hand only had to substitute the chillis with the locally available ones.
I am thankful to Ammini for sharing a wonderful dish recipe and for all of friends on facebook who made this possible to learn a new dish.


  1. The name itself tempts me a lot, such a super comforting dal,my kind of food.

  2. Never heard of this before.. Guess this recipe follows the 'Minimum effort, maximum taste' mantra.. Should try it out!!

  3. Nice little Blog you have.. Just came across..

    glad to follow you now.. please visit my space when time :)

  4. Looks so delicious! That molagai thanlichi makes me drool!!!

  5. Pacha sambar looks delicious I was missing my grandmas recipe. Sure I will make this one.

  6. What a very different sambar recipe... looks fabulous and can't wait to try.

  7. Nice sambar,haven't added potato with dal. Next time will try for sure.

  8. Very flavorful and delicious sambar...Love them...

  9. This variation of sambar is something new to me. Must remember to try it out.

  10. yummilicious and droolworthy sambar for a quick change from the routine and usual one.

  11. Bookmarked this mam. Will surely try n let u know. No doubt it tastes gr8 :)

  12. Hi Lata, Lovely looking sambhar, looks really delicous, will definitely try it out.. lovely clicks too and definitely will write it to you


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Lata Raja.