Sambar - Vegetable Soup, South Indian Cusine

Sambar* and Rasam** often got me confused. I developed a liking for this hearty vegetable soup ...quite recently. Why not earlier? Cos' I never had it in the past. To me, this is like Minestrone, Indian-style.

Today I am making Sambar. I learn this homemade version from my friend who learn it from her mother-in-law who is Indian. Anything delicious needs passing down right?

And gawd, I did not even know there are peeled-split-mung-beans in this soup. I always thought they were chickpeas(garbanzo) disintegrated/broken down to powdery texture when cooked in soup, which I believe will work for Sambar too, just like how yellow lentils may work. Peeled and Split Mung Beans are known as Moong Dal, so now I know. And that is similar stuff used in making Chinese dessert - Tau Suan. I believe any one of these legumes mentioned above is key to making Sambar.

Note: Another key ingredient to making this soup, is onions. LOTS of ONIONS.

Ingredients: 1/2 to 3/4 of a big red onion, finely diced; pinch of cumin, fennel seeds; pinches pf ground coriander; 1-2 tablespoons Sambar powder; pinch of turmeric; 1/2 cup split mung bean, lightly rinsed then boiled to cook; 1-2 carrots, roughly chopped to bite-sizes; 1 medium-size Hairy or Fuzzy Squash/gourd (Note1: also improvised on the recipe, trying to add some Opo Squash but do not think it is a good idea)

Directions: Heat some oil in a deep soup pot. Roast the cumin, and fennel to exude some aroma, then add in all the onions and fry till they turn soft. Add some ground coriander and half the Sambar powder, mix well. Add in carrots and hairy melon and mix thoroughly with the onions mixture. Add in remaining Sambar powder, turmeric, and enough water to immerse the vegetables. After simmering at low-medium heat for about 10-15mins, add in cooked split mung beans continue to simmer till all the vegetables are cooked.

Enjoy! Another homey comfort soup to be enjoyed at home on a cold day.

Other interests:
(1) The difference between *Sambar and **Rasam
(2) Legume: Peeled and Split Mung Beans

Similar to the removal of the rice bran to make white rice, I suspect that hulled mung beans are not as nutritious (I don't know) as the whole green mung beans. Split and hulled mung beans are small and yellow. These beans do not need pre-soaking and cook easily to butter-soft consistency.

Have you tried this soup or similar before? Now, who can tell me the difference between Sambar and Rasam? I still don't get it! :O

This will be my entry for My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Lisa's Kitchen this month, November 2010. The soup is also for Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen, My Meatless Mondays and Hearth and Soul.

Happy Friday!

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