Its been a peaceful Saturday. The first in a long while. And I spent the morning tending to all the things I have ignored all week long. The mound of clothes piling up on the bedroom chair, the overflowing laundry basket, the dusty corners of my kitchen, the cobwebs in the balcony, the dining table strewn with random objects (that dont belong there!), and the list is endless. So the day passed by rather quickly, involving such things as changing pillow covers and sheets, taking things down from the kitchen shelf and dusting the area and neatly replacing the boxes, making the dining table sparse like it should be, doing a giant batch of laundry, putting away clothes. And the best part -- Im not complaining :)
Some days are just meant for all things homely. And today was one such. I also had in my fridge what was an utterly green and fresh bunch of palak. It was utterly green and fresh day before yesterday when I bought it, but having soaked a cupful of channa that couldnt be wasted yesterday I had to put off using the palak until today. So while the bunch had lost its really verdant color and crunch, I knew it had to be used now or never.
And what better way to make the Saturday more homely, than with some good ol sambar rice? Except this sambar is a combination of the versions I have heard and read about. So without really following a recipe, I tend to go with the flow and do things as I feel. Like in this instance, throwing in some palak into my pot of sambar.
What you need (for 2 people, 1 small cup of dal):
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
1 medium tomato
1 handful french beans
1 medium carrot
1 small bunch palak
1 green chilli
2 tablespoons sambar powder
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
Mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves for the tadka
What you need to do:
Chop up all your vegetables. The carrots, tomato and beans roughly, but the onion and garlic chopped fine.
In a pan, heat some oil. Throw in the garlic and onion. Saute well till the onions are translucent. Next, throw in the chopped beans and carrots. Saute till lightly cooked.
In a pressure cooker, add the washed dal and adequate water. To it, add the sauteed vegetables.
Next, chop the palak roughly and add it in.
Add the sambar powder, a pinch of asafoetida and salt to taste. Add some more water if required and cook for about 3-4 whistles.
When cooked and the pressure has released, open, add water if required and give it a good stir. Simmer the sambar for 4-5 minutes. Add in some tamarind paste and bring to a boil.
In a small pan, heat up some ghee, when its hot, add in the mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. Add in the sputtering mixture to the sambar.
The best thing about sambar is that you can virtually throw in every vegetable, and follow a sequence of rather simple, almost robotic steps and you just cant go wrong. I hope this is as much of a reminder of the warmth of your home, as it was for me.