Kootu Sambar

22 October 2011 § 2 Comments

Last week I shared with you the fabulous tarte tatin recipe that I made with my friend, Kimberli (The Mackay Way).

What I failed to mention, though, was the spectacular lunch we enjoyed while the appletastic dessert was baking.

Kimberli made us both Kootu Sambar, an Indian vegetarian dish with fresh produce from her garden.  Apart from the drizzle of spicy oil you add just before serving, this dish is not cooked in any butter or oil. Since life is all about balance, it acted as a good counter to the buttery, sugary goodness of the tarte tatin.

Kimberli used a recipe from a book by Corrine Trang (dubbed the “Julia Child” of Asian cooking) called Curry Cuisine.

Here is how she made it:

First she picked some tomatoes and beans from her yard.

Then she put the yellow lentils on the stove to simmer with turmeric, chili powder and onion…

…while she made the tamarind water.

Then she made a spice paste with coconut, coriander seeds and dried red chili.

Then the beans, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots were added to the pot.

It was then served with hot oil with curry leaves, chilis and mustard seeds. The hot oil was ready when the mustard seeds danced in the hot oil and the dried chillies puffed up to release their fragrant oil.

We scooped it up with warm parathas and ate it with a very refreshing tomato, onion and lime juice salad.

A perfect lunch for an Indian Summer’s Day.

Kootus Sambar Recipe (from Curry Cuisine) – serves 4


  • 4oz split yellow lentils
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 onions cut into small pieces
  • 4oz carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 4oz green beans, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 tomatoes, quartered
  • 4oz potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup tamarind water, made with 1 tbsp pulp and ¼ cup water
  • Salt

Spice paste

  • 4oz freshly grated coconut or desiccated coconut
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 dried red chili

For tempering

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 3 dried red chilis

For the spice paste, roast the coconut and spices until brown. Leave to cool, then grind in a food processor, gradually adding about 1 cup of water to make a fine paste.

Bring 1¼ cups of water to a boil in a saucepan and add the lentils, turmeric, chili powder and onions. Simmer until the onions are well cooked.

Add the carrots, beans, tomatoes and potatoes and stir well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the tamarind water and salt to taste. Cover and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Stir in the spice paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to moderate and cook, uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For tempering, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds. As they begin to pop, add the curry leaves and dried red chilis. Pour this over the curry and gently stir through. Serve hot.

Serve with a refreshing salad of chopped tomato, red onion and lime juice.

Yellow tomato, red onion and lime salad


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§ 2 Responses to Kootu Sambar

  • Darlene says:

    Ah! My daughter, an MHS senior, recently returned to her vegetarian earlier years (she lost more than 20 pounds, on her own, as an 8th grader) since she’s seen pounds creep up. She is going to LOVE this recipe! Thanks!

  • Hannah says:

    I just love Indian food and this looks like a divine recipe! What a lovely lunch to enjoy with a friend.

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