There are many restaurants that we treasure deeply, especially the ones that give extra sambhar at no extra charge. For the uninitiated, sambar or sambhar is a south Indian lentil stew made with a combination of vegetables like pumpkin, okra, French beans, drumsticks etc. It is often paired with dosa, idli, appam, uttapam or rice and is served piping hot. The consistency of sambar is usually thin, and it is renowned for its characteristic sharp and tangy taste. If you have been struggling to give your sambar the right amount of tanginess, fret not. We asked a few chefs from around the country to share their secret tips, here goes.
Tamarind is key, but be mindful of these common errors
"We use fresh tamarind with jaggery and tomatoes to make the sambar tangy. This combination gives well-balanced results. While the quantity of tamarind should be decided as per the sourness of tomatoes, the jaggery helps in bringing about the tanginess and enhances the taste. These ingredients ensure rich flavors and make the sambar flavourful," says Masterchef Vinod Saini, Jamavar - The Leela Palace New Delhi.
The timing of adding the tamarind is also something that you should keep in mind,
"Adding tamarind pulp is a must. However, to retain the original flavour of tamarind in the dish, you should add it in the last phase while Sambhar is simmering followed by dry 'amchur' powder (mango powder) for the extra zing, "adds, Chef Ganesh Dhoni, Crowne Plaza New Delhi Okhla.
Can You Make Sambar Without Tamarind? Yes, of course
You can still have your perfect bowl of sambhar even if you are out of tamarind. You may have to do some intelligent mix and match.
Chef Ganesh Dhoni says, "in case tamarind is not available, you can cut and grind sour tomatoes and add them to the Sambhar for zesty taste.If you are feeling particularly innovative, you can add diced raw mangoes to the simmering pot of Sambhar and cook it until soft or simply use raw mango pulp extract. Alternatively, you can soak Kokum in hot water and extract its pulp for a tangy flavour."
If you do not have soaked tamarind pulp, you can definitely use raw mango pulp. It does not guarantee the exact same taste, but it will definitely give it an elevated flavour. Gundu chillies also give your sambhar a nice sharpness when added to the tadka, says Michelin plate award winner Chef Dayashankar Sharma.
" I also use my own home-made masala for making sambar which is basically a combination of mustard seeds, red chillies whole, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, hing, curry leaf and red chilli powder."
So what are you waiting for, go ahead, make your sambar perfectly tangy with these tips. If you are trying sambar for the first time, here's an NDTV Food recipe you will enjoy.
About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.