Tangy Tales: Make Your Sambar Tangy With These Solid Tips
- Sushmita Sengupta
Updated : January 20, 2022 05:01 IST
So how do you make the stew tangier without toppling the delicate balance of flavours this stew is famous for?
I like my sambar hot and tangy. There I said it. There are enough and many versions of this lentil-based stew, some spicy, some sweet. But I have found my ‘type’. Sambar is a massively popular South Indian delicacy, and many like to argue that it has Maratha roots. That’s right, sambar or rather its precursor may have been developed in the kitchens of Thanjavur Marathas. As per a popular legend, the origins of sambar go back to the reign of Shahuji I, during the latter half of fifteenth century. The cooks in his kitchen may have tweaked 'Amti', another famous lentil preparation, by using tur dal instead of moong dal, tamarind was brought in place of kokum, and this dish that they had created was possibly named after Shambhaji, a Maratha emperor who was a royal visitor on that day. Slowly over the years the term ‘Sambar’ or ‘Sambhar’ a derivative of ‘Shambhaji’ stuck them with the dish. There are, of course, theories galore. Today, sambar has become a mainstay at almost every South Indian household and restaurant. In addition to the lentils, the stew is also replete with many local and seasonal vegetables like brinjal, potatoes, pumpkin, french beans, drumsticks, carrots, okra, etc., a wholesome main course dish in Indian cuisine.
Cooking Tangy Sambhar
Coming back to my penchant for ‘tangy’ sambhar. It is a difficult path to tread, for balance is everything in a sambhar. So how do you make the stew tangier without toppling the delicate balance of flavours it is famous for?
One way is to use fresh tamarind and tomatoes. The freshness guarantees good results. Also, be mindful of the amount of tamarind used. If the tomatoes are already quite sour, reduce the amount of tamarind accordingly and vice versa. Throwing a bit of jaggery in the mix can also do wonders in highlighting this tanginess. Don’t get us wrong, and we are not telling you to dunk in a whole block of jaggery but just a bit. It renders the same impact as a bit of salt in sweet dishes.
So by now, we have established that tamarind is key, but is there a specific timing to add the same. As per experts, add it towards the end so that the tanginess is retained, a smattering of amchur or raw mango powder after the addition of tamarind could also be a valuable addition at this point.
So what to do when you don't have tamarind? The most trusted substitutes, in this case, would be sour tomatoes and kokum. However, if you use tamarind pulp in your sambhar, you can also substitute it with the pulp of raw mangoes.
As you can see, raw mangoes, tomatoes, curd, tamarind, kokum are typical souring agents in Indian cooking, and all you need is to find a proper way to use some of these in your sambhar for the lovely zestful result
Are you craving some hot sambhar already? Here’s a recipe you are sure to love.