Wednesday, 27 July 2016





          Nearly all celebrations in Kerala are enjoyed with a sumptuous feast and every banana leaf spread is incomplete without the fragrant, delightful sambar. This enchanting curry entrances Indians and foreigners alike, sparking the pang of hunger in one’s stomach and filling one’s mouth with saliva.

          Sambar is prepared in many different ways, each seemingly better than the other (see my saambar recipe and my roasted coconut saambar recipe). Okra sambar is one of the finest of sambars and will bestow you with an excellent appetite, good digestion and great cheer.

Ingredients for roasting the masala:

     1)    Onion – 100 gm.
     2)    Coriander seeds – 20 gm.
     3)    Garlic – 5 gm. (7 to 8 cloves)
     4)    Fenugreek – 2 gm.
     5)    Grated coconut – 120 gm.
     6)    Dry Kashmiri chilies – 25 gm.
     7)    Curry leaves – 1 sprig
     8)    Tor dal (split pigeon pea lentils) – 30 gm.

Ingredients for cooking:

     1)    Tender okra (Ladies’ Finger, also Vendakka in Malayalam/ Bhindi in Hindi/ Bhànde in Konkani) – 350 gm.
     2)    Potato – 100 gm.
     3)    Onion – 100 gm.
     4)    Tomato – 100 gm.
     5)    Tamarind – 30 gm.
     6)    Cooking oil – 1 tablespoon
     7)    Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
     8)    Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
     9)    Water – 1½ litres
     10)     Powdered salt – 12 gm. (2 teaspoons)
     11)     Turmeric powder – 2 gm. (1/2 teaspoon)
     12)     Asafoetida powder – 2 gm. (1/2 teaspoon)
     13)     Coriander leaves – 1 sprig (for garnish, optional)

To roast the masala:

          Peel and chop the onion (100 gm.) to superfine pieces and transfer to a pan or wok. Tip in the rest of the ingredients for roasting and set on high heat. Stir frequently till the mixture starts to roast.

Now turn down the heat and continue to stir until the grated coconut starts to turn a light brown. Switch off the heat (so that the mixture does not burn or blacken) and transfer the roast to your food processor. Pour in half a litre of water and grind to fine paste.

To prepare:

Soak the tamarind in 250 ml. of warm water for 15 minutes. Squeeze nicely with your fingers until the pulp dissolves in the water. Discard the fibres and seeds, if any, and set aside the tamarind juice.

          Peel the potato and the onion. Chop the onion, the potato and the tomato roughly into chunks. Discard the hard stems of the okra and cut each into 2 or 3 pieces (Tiny, thin, tender, finger length okra such as those available in Maharashtra need not be cut to pieces at all. Removing the stems will do).

To cook:

Set a deep curry vessel on high heat. Pour in the cooking oil and throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish bursting, tip in the curry leaves. Stir once and chuck in the chopped vegetables. Stir once more and tip in the ground paste together with the remaining water (750 ml.)

Pour in the tamarind juice and stir well. Now tip in the powdered salt and the turmeric powder. Stir occasionally till it comes to a boil. Lower the heat and cover with a lid. Let the sambar cook slowly.

10 minutes later, check to see if the potato chunks are cooked. They should be soft and will cut easily with a ladle. If they are still hard, let cook for another 5 minutes (the cooking time may vary a bit depending on the heat, the vessel, the vegetables and the ambient temperature).

As soon as the potato is cooked, tip in the asafoetida powder. Stir and switch off the heat. Your ultra-delicious, mouthwatering okra sambar is now ready to serve.

Garnish hot sambar with chopped coriander leaves for even more aroma. Serve with hot rice, idlis, dosas, vadas, havishyanne, chappatis, or with freshly baked bread.



  1. i guess at least one person from every south Indian family knows how to cook this... but question is the taste!

    1. Dear deeps,
      Every cook lends his experience, his taste, his mood, his individuality to the dish he creates. Each chef as well as each dish is unique. Have you seen the movies Ratatouille and The Ramen Girl? IF not, please do so.

  2. The Ramen Girl, just got this one.. will watch it


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