Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Though preparations for Onam Sadya start days in advance, there are many things which can be done only on Onam day. Kalan and pulinji can be prepared one or two days in advance. Other delicacies have to prepared on the day of the feast.
There are varieties of Sambar prepared in the southern states, but the sambar prepared by Kerala Iyers beats them all. This sambar is prepared by grinding fresh spices. No readymade sambar powder is used here. Each time, the sambar is made, spices are ground fresh. We follow this system to this day.
Traditionally, vegetables like, ladies finger (okra), brinjal (eggplant), drum sticks, chembu(taro root/colacacia), avarakkai(snowpeas), pumpkin, ash gourd, etc. are used. In recent years, vegetables like capsicum (bell peppers), tomato, knolkhol, radish, methi leaves, etc. are all used (these were not used earlier since they were not available then). Radish sambar tastes especially great.
The sambar made out of a combination of all the above vegetables is known as kootu sambar and prepared for big feasts. It could be prepared in the combination of all the above or any of them or any other combination, depending on the availability. Each vegetable renders a special flavour to the dish.
Since a variety of vegetables is used, a little of each vegetable is selected, totalling to 250gms.
Tamarind: size of a ping pong ball
Toor dal: ¾ cup
Coriander seeds : 1 tbsp.
Bengal gram dal:1 tbsp.
Methi seeds : ½ tsp
Hing(asafoetida) pea size
Red chillies : 5.
Grated coconut: 3 tbsp.
Turmeric powder :1 tsp.
Jaggery : a small piece
Salt to taste
Oil 1 tbsp.
Mustard seeds: 2 tsp.
Curry leaves: a few
Coriander leaves 1 tbsp. (optional)
Wash and cut the vegetables like pumpkin, ash gourd, radish,etc., into 2" cubes. Cut ladies finger, brinjal, drumstick, radish, avarakkai etc. into 2" long pieces. Pressure cook the dal with 1½ tsp turmeric powder and enough water to achieve a smooth consistency.
Heat 1 tsp oil and roast the hing, coriander seeds, Bengal gram dal, methi seeds, 4 red chillies and a few curry leaves to a light brown colour. Grind the roasted spices with the coconut gratings to a smooth paste.
Soak tamarind in warm water for ½ hr and extract the juice. Boil the tamarind extract and add the cut vegetables . Add salt and 1 tsp turmeric powder and cook till the vegetables are done. Mash the cooked dal and add to the tamarind, vegetable mixture and boil for another 5 mnts. Add the jaggery and ground paste. Boil for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add curry leaves and coriander leaves.
Heat the remaining oil in a small pan, add the mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add the cut red chillies and curry leaves and pour into the sambar.
ENJOY with Idli, sambar or rice.
Suggested accompaniments: Thoran, Erissery,Olan...