Arachuvita onion & murangai kai sambhar

One of the dishes that is synonymous with South Indian cooking is sambhar, a thick dahl and vegetable based gravy dish normally eaten with rice and often served as an accompaniment with  idlis & dosais (rice & urad dhal batter steamed dumplings and pancakes).  The key to any good sambhar is the spice powder which varies from household to household and we sometimes feel the recipes are guarded secrets passed on by word of mouth from one generation to the next.  One can find sambhar powder in most Asian grocery store which is a suitable substitute (our family recipe can be shared for a small fee  :-)).

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What do I need to make it?

  • 2 murangai kai (called moringa in English or more colloquially known as drumsticks in India) cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 10-12 small sambhar onions (available in Asian grocery stores – alternatively use baby onions)
  • Extract of a small ball of tamarind (alternatively ½ tsp of tamarind paste)
  • Handful fresh curry leaves
  • ½ cup of pressure cooked tuar dahl
  • 3 whole red chillies
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp channa dahl
  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ cup fresh grated coconut
  • Handful of fresh coriander for garnish
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4-6

How do I make it?

Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat and roast the coriander seeds, channa dahl and dried red chillies for a few minutes till the seeds change colour.   Once cooled, grind to a paste with fresh coconut and a pinch of asafoetida – use a little water.   Keep this aside.   In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil followed by the mustard seeds.   Once the seeds start to splutter add the curry leaves and vegetables.   Saute over medium heat for a couple of minutes and then add the extract of tamarind water, sambhar powder and a bit of salt.  Pour in 500 ml of water and cook over medium heat till the raw smell of the powder disappears and the vegetables are cooked.  Add the cooked dahl and paste and simmer for 5-10 minutes.   Adjust the seasoning, garnish with fresh coriander and switch off heat.  Serve hot with plain boiled rice.

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Curly kale thoran

Thoran is a generic Malayalam term given to any dry mixed vegetable dish garnished with fresh coconut.  It has taken us a while to experiment with non traditional Indian vegetables and greens but having just attempted a curly kale thoran we think we have been missing out on this wonderful leafy vegetable which is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C and rich in calcium.  There appears to be more than one variety of kale – we’ve tried the curly variety in today’s thoran and in the past have stir fried an Italian variety called ‘cavolo nero’ with a splash of tamari soy sauce, Shaosin wine, palm sugar and spiced black rice wine vinegar.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 200 gm curly kale washed
  • 1/2 cup dried borlotti bean pressure cooked with 1 cup of water
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp split urad dahl
  • 1/2 tsp channa dahl
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • Handful fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Heat a wok with the coconut oil – first add the mustard seeds and wait for them to start spluttering before adding the urad and channa dahl.    Once the dahls start to brown a bit add the curry leaves and dried red chillies – stir for 15 seconds before adding the curly kale.   Add a 1/4 cup of water, turmeric powder, mix, cover and cook over a low heat till done.    Remove the lid, add the cooked borlotti beans, fresh coconut and adjust the seasoning before taking it off the heat.