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Vegetable and dal stewSambar is thicker than ordinary dal and is especially easy to digest. It is traditionally served with masala or atta dosa, or with white rice and one of the breads described in the next chapter.
Preparation and cooking time: 45 min
6 cups (1.4 l) water
3 teaspoon salt
11/4 cups (250 g) mung dal, toor dal, green split-peas, or whole lentils
11/2 lb (675 g) assorted vegetables such as eggplant, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, or squash
2 oz (50 g) tamarind
3 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
11/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 2 fresh chillies, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 tablespoon grated coconut
Start by putting the water, with the salt added, over heat to boil. Sort, wash, and drain the dal. Add the dal to the boiling water. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove any froth and dal skins that collect on the surface, then cover and cook over medium heat for 15 - 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The dal should become softer but not mushy.
While the dal is cooking, wash and cut the vegetables into small cubes. Break up the lump of tamarind, boil it in a small amount of water, and extract the juice.
Heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a saucepan and fry the mustard seeds. After they finish popping, add the powdered spices, fry for a few seconds, then add the vegetables. (If you use eggplant, cook it first until it is butter-soft). Stir-fry for 10 - 15 minutes, until all the vegetables are browned. Add the grated coconut and fry for 2 more minutes.
By this time the dal should be ready. Empty the vegetables and the tamarind juice into the dal and mix well. Lower the heat and cook uncovered until the dal is fully cooked and thick and the vegetables are soft.