Sambar is a spicy clear broth soup from Southern India and Sri Lanka. It is very simple in composition, and may be considered by some (me) to be the Indian “chicken soup” for the soul. A scattered amount of vegetables and some toor daal (also known as pigeon peas in Latin cooking) make the dish a pleasing starter to a meal or even a meal in itself. This particular recipe has a nice balance of spicy and tangy, with copious amounts of whole dried chilis and spices offset by tamarind. Tamarind is an ingredient often found in Middle Eastern and Asian dishes, and gives the dish a lime-like tang. I also love to put it in chilis, as the “umami” ingredient. Tamarind pulp and tamarind concentrate can be found in any Middle East, Asian, or Indian grocery; or even a well-stocked grocery store. The base is easily adaptable, with other protein options like green or red lentils, chickpeas, white beans, fava beans, or whatever legume is speaking to you at the moment. The vegetable additions can also reflect the state of your mood/fridge: zucchini, carrots, celery, bell pepper, eggplant … even cauliflower would all be delicious! It is a comfort soup like chicken noodle, and would cure whatever ails you. With the added bonus of being extremely tasty, this soup should be a cold weather standby.
Sambar is often served with a Dosa, an Indian flatbread. After my dosa disasters, I tried another recipe that didn’t involve fermenting beans or rice – Rava Dosa. Rava Dosas are crepes made from semolina and rice flour and are extremely simple to make! Easier even than pancakes, they also taste fantastic and are quick to throw together. They are delicious by themselves, but also make a great dipping vessel for soups, stews, and curries. The jalapeno and cilantro in the batter act as accents to the main dish, almost like a baked-in chutney. They would also be fantastic instead of tortillas in breakfast burritos, omelettes, or anything else you would use wraps for! I will definitely be making these again.
The Sambar recipe can be found here: Sambar
The Rava Dosa recipe can be found here: Rava Dosa