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Kerala Sambar


Adding the distinctive mustard seed, curry leaf and dried red chile seasoning at the end gives this vegetable curry the stamp of Kerala.

  1. 1/2 cup thoor dhal or yellow split peas (3 1/2 ounces), rinsed in several changes of water
  2. 3 1/4 cups water
  3. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  4. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  5. 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  6. 1/8 teaspoon asafetida
  7. 1/4 pound okra, trimmed
  8. 1 medium boiling potato, peeled and cut into 3/4 -inch dice
  9. 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
  10. 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  11. 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  12. 1 serrano or Thai chile, cut in half lengthwise
  13. 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  14. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  15. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  16. 1/4 teaspoon tamarind concentrate, dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
  17. 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  18. 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  19. 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  20. 8 curry leaves or 2 bay leaves
  21. 1 dried red chile
  22. 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the dhal with 1 1/4 cups of water and 1/8 teaspoon of the turmeric and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until soft, about 30 minutes (45 minutes for yellow split peas). Partially mash the dhal with a potato masher.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the fenugreek and asafetida and cook over moderately high heat until fragrant and lightly colored, about 1 minute. Add the okra, potato, tomato, onion, cilantro, serrano chile, coriander, salt, cumin, the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric, dissolved tamarind, cayenne and black pepper along with the remaining 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 18 minutes. Add the mashed dhal and simmer 10 minutes longer.
  3. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and dried red chile. Cover and cook over moderately high heat until the mustard seeds have popped for a few seconds, then stir into the vegetable and dhal mixture. Add the lemon juice and serve.
Make Ahead The recipe can be prepared through Step 1 up to 1 day ahead.
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