Posts Tagged ‘onion’

Traditional Sambar with Green Beans & Potatoes

What is this ‘Sambar’ of which I speak? It’s almost like a stew, lentil-based and chock full of veggies and protein (from the lentils, duh). It’s a dish traditionally cooked and found in south India, and it makes up an essential component of any traditional south Indian dinner, since it has nutrients in abundance.  Protein is hard to find in a vegetarian diet unless you’re into the fake meats, tofu, or such, all of which I kind of hate.

Generally, I make this sambar with French cut green beans, carrots, and baby onions, but last night, I was missing carrots.  (Here’s a good recipe for Carrot and Beans Sambar by Radhika, in India.) Instead, I substituted potatoes, which works just fine.  In fact, one of my favorite sambars is made with baby potatoes and baby onions. It’s cute and it’s tasty and it’s easy to make.

sambar
The basic recipe for a sambar is simple, and the veggies can be substituted as desired.  However, once you start getting into the leafy greens (spinach, for example), the spices vary slightly, and the dish is called ‘huli.’ Anyway, enough theory of Indian vegetarian cooking, here’s a recipe:

Green Beans and Potato Sambar

~Serves approximately 6~

  • 1/2 cup Toor dal (if you can’t find this in Shaws, try Shalimar in Central Square or the Indian Market in Coolidge Corner)
  • 2 medium potatoes, chopped in cubes
  • French cut green beans, frozen – use the same volume of beans as potatoes
  • 1/2 extra large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium can of whole tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. Tamarind paste/pulp (if you know how to soak and extract pulp)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 2-3 tbsp Madras Sambar Powder
  • Salt – to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2-3 Whole red chilli, dried or fresh
  • Asafoetida (a powder/spice that comes in a white plastic bottle)– 2 pinches
  • 2-3 Curry leaves
  • Coriander Leaves – for garnishing
  1. Clean Toor Dal (sift through and make sure no dark pieces are there) and either pressure cook it with 2 drops of Oil and turmeric – this makes it cook fast. Remove after 3 whistles and let it cool down – or add 1.5 cups of water, oil and turmeric in a small saucepan and let simmer on medium-high until the lentils absorb the water, soften and expand. Stir often to prevent sticking on bottom of the saucepan, and remove from flame once all the water is absorbed.
  2. Dice oniones, chop Potatoes to 1″ cubes, and remove beans from freezer and let needed amount defrost to room temperature.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric, and then add chopped onions. Sauté till they turn clear (are cooked), then add the can of tomatoes, mashing them with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add the potatoes and let simmer until potatoes begin to soften.
  5. Then add the cooked toor dal (slightly mashed with wooden spoon), green beans, and  tamarind pulp.
  6. Add the sambar powder, red chilli powder, asafoetida, and salt.
  7. Cook on high flame for 5 mins, then simmer for 10 mins or until the vegetables are cooked well.
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Happy Eating!

  • Have you ever made Sambar before?
  • If so, how do you normally make it? Do you use vegetables other than carrots, beans, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes?
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Basil, Oregano, & Garlic: Flavors of My Winter “Pasta Primavera”

primavera

After eating one too many meals out this week, I spent the entire BU vs. UNH Men’s Ice Hockey game Saturday night (-we won, 4-2!) getting progressively hungrier and wondering about what I could make for dinner. The contents of my fridge really need to be emptied before I skip town for Thanksgiving. I thought about what I had – zucchinis, peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic… Combining those ingredients with the Italian herbs I had in my spice cabinet, I put together my take on a pasta primavera … in the winter. (For those of you who don’t know, “primavera” means “spring” in Italian.)

Wintertime Pasta “Primavera”

  • 1 cup large shell pasta
  • Barilla Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped in long thin strips
  • 1 Zucchini, chopped in semicircles (width – a little thinner than a centimeter)
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped in thin semicircles
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • Fresh Basil, garnish, optional
  • Dried Basil
  • Dried Oregano
  • Garlic Salt
  • Salt
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan until it is al-dente.
  2. Once the water for the pasta is boiling, cut the vegetables.
  3. Heat oil on a flat pan – enough for all of the vegetables – 3-4 tbsp, more if needed, then lower heat to medium
  4. Throw some garlic salt and basil on the oil as it heats up.  Once it starts to snap, add the onions and cook until they start to turn clear.
  5. Add more basil and some oregano as well as the bell peppers and mix thoroughly.
  6. Once the bell peppers begin to become tender, add the zucchini and some salt.  Cook 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and crushed pepper and let cook until the tomatoes start to soften and liquidate.
  8. Add the tomato sauce, mixing until all of the vegetables are covered lightly. Let simmer until sauce is thoroughly heated or vegetables fully cooked.
  9. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the vegetables. Toss together, turn off flame.  Let cool slightly, garnish with fresh basil, then serve.

This made about 2-3 servings, which was great because now I have leftovers for today. Yay!

  • What about you? What vegetables do you include in pasta dishes?
  • What spices do you use for Italian food?
  • What is your favorite type of tomato sauce? Or, do you like to make your own?
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