Men Who Cook – Kerala Sambar by Ankur Patodia
While in most of our homes it’s still mothers, wives and sisters in charge of the kitchen, cooking is no longer exclusively a woman’s domain. Hasn’t been for ages in the professional world but we’re talking about the home here. Some of the best Biryani, prawns and even chicken dishes we’ve ever had were cooked by men in their own kitchens. And so we’re hoping some interesting men come out of the woodwork and share their fantastic recipes with us here.
The first in our Men Who Cook series is a fabulous Kerala Sambar recipe shared with us by Ankur Patodia. Ankur Patodia runs a hip tshirt company called Chimp (www.chimpwear.com), and spends most of his spare time thinking of food or cooking it and plans his holidays around where to eat. Between all that eating and running his cool company, he stays zen by practicing the Japanese martial art, Aikido.
This recipe was taught to him by his Man Friday, Saravanan and goes well with Red rice, Idlis and Dosas or had on its own, is a potent hangover cure.
Stuff you’ll need to make Sambar for 20 people (names in Malayalam in brackets)
1/2 cup Coconut Oil
1 big piece of Fresh Hing, not the powdered stuff (Kayam)
3 big Onions, quartered (Savala)
100 gms small Onions (Cheria Ulli)
6 Lady fingers cut 1” long (Vendakai)
1 big fat Green Chillies cut in three pieces (Pacha Muluga)
2 Drumsticks cut 1” long (Murugakai)
2 small Brinjals cut big (Vaidarangya)
1 small Red Yam (Mattan)
1 Carrot (Carrot)
1 big ball of Tamarind (Puli) soaked, then drained to reserve liquid, refer pics
1 level teaspoon Turmeric
2 heaped teaspoons Coriander Powder
1 ½ teaspoons Chilli Powder
2 heaped tablespoons Sambar Powder, Nirapara or Brahmins only
½ kilo Tomatoes, chopped in large chunks
2 stalks of Curry Leaves on stem, not separated
500 grams Toor Dal pressure cooked till mushy, 3-4 whistles
1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
1 dried Red Chilli broken in two
5-6 Curry Leaves
1 teaspoon Chilli Powder
Heat Coconut Oil in a massive vessel and add a Hing piece whole till it blisters. Add onions, lady fingers and green chili and fry for 4-5 minutes. Then add drumsticks, brinjal, yam and carrot and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the tamarind and enough water to cover all vegetables. Immediately add turmeric, coriander powder, chili powder and sambar masala, cover partially and boil for 7-10 minutes. Add tomatoes and curry leaves and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes. Add Toor Dal and adjust water as necessary for consistency. At this point, taste and if required, add up to 2 tablespoons of Sambar powder mixed in water, refer photo. Add Salt to taste. Cook for a further 10 minutes uncovered.
Temper temper. Temper (Talakya), in 2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil, add all the tempering ingredients. Cover the Sambar immediately after tempering to retain aromas.
Notes: Try not to substitute the Coconut oil, Hing & a good Sambar powder. They make the dish.
The brinjal, yam and carrots can be substituted or omitted for a simpler sambar.
You can remove the Curry Leaves stalks before serving.
Enjoy, you’re done.