Food & Drink Magazine

Tips-For Perfect Sambar and Kuzhambus

By Harini
Kuzhambu or sambar is the first course of meals in almost all parts of South India.There are so many many varieties of sambar and kuzhambu prepared in our homes.Though we all follow a perfect recipe from a renowned book or tv show,the reality remains that we are only trying hard to reach that perfect taste of our mom's and grand mom's.But reaching that is not very hard,all we need is a little bit of patience,experience and those secrets tidbits they follow. Here in this post I am sharing a my little knowledge about sambar and kuzhambu varieties.Most of these tips were given to me by my mom,and few of them by my aunts and I also collected few from magazines.If these tips would be of even little help to readers I will be very happy.
Sambar:Sambar is traditionaly a stew made with lentils and vegetables.Toor dal is staple to make sambar and lets start with the selection of good toor dal
Selection of toor dal.
Always buy toor dal which is thin and comparatively smalle as they cook fast and soft.If you watch closely some times toor dal will be very shiny as if some oil has been applied.Don't buy them,they never become soft and get cooked properly.
Cooking of toor dal:
1.Use soft water for cooking,1:2 ratio of water should be fine when using using pressure cooker,and  pinch of turmeric while cooking.
2.If you find your dal is not cooking properly,tyr soaking it in water for 30 minutes before cooking and saute it for 5 minutes.
3.Mash the cooked toor dal very well and dilute it with 1/2 cup of water.
While cooking sambar:
1.If you want to prepare sambar really quick you can use sambar powder,just saute the sambar powder along with other tempering ingredients.Good sambar powder is the key here.
2.For onion sambar,instead of sauting pearl onions,grind 7-8 along with masala and saute a big onion sliced thin with tempering ingredients.This way sambar will be more thick and flavorful.
3.To get nice deep colour,red color in sambar reduce the amount of tamrind(if using) and increase the num of tomatoes and saute them well in oil.
4.If using coconut,make sure you saute the paste very well it oil comes out and boil well.
5.Once the sambar is done,remove from heat,add fresh cilantro springs and 2 teaspoons of ghee.This will take the sambar to a complete new level.
Kuzhambu varieties
1.Add a teaspoon of roasted fenugreek seeds powder to the kuzhambu when it is boiling and this will immensly increase the flavor.
2.Add a teaspoon or two of milk to the boiling kuzhambu and this will balance the taste and makes the kuzhambu ormtaste uniform.
3.Sesame oil is must for vatha kuzhambu and no other oil can compete with its taste.
4.Tamrind extract should be quite thick.
5.Asafoetida is the key factor in Kuzhambu.For all the varieties except onion kuzhambu,use good quality asafoetida and make sure it is fried well till it leaves a good aroma.
6.In our home a small piece of jaggery is must in vatha kuzhambu as this will be an up lifter of all other flavors.
7.If there are no vegetables handy to add in kuzhambu,add a handful of raw peanuts,channa(konda kadalai) 
8.If the kuzhumbu is very spicy,try adjusting the salt.
9.If it is salty try adding a boiled potato and remove it before serving.
10.After removing from heat,add two teaspoons of sesame oil to kuzhambu and this will enhance the flavor.
Few sambar and kuzhambu recipes from cook click n devour
1.Idly sambar
2.Parupu kuzhambu
3.Tomato vatha kuzhambu
4.kariveppilai kuzhambu

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