The word "khana" in Indian Khana Made Easy means food. So come on, let's explore and cook some easy Indian food together including Gluten Free dishes.

October 30, 2011

Chunky Pumpkin Sambhar


Sambhar is a type of vegetable stew or soup that has its roots from South India. Every South Indian state has its own variation. 

Warm Pumpkin Goodness!
Our version of sambhar hails from Andhra Pradesh (my home state) . Now the base of soups or stews starts off with the broth or stock, and then you combine it with meat, legumes or vegetables.  The broth in Sambhar is usually made with tamarind and/or pigeon peas and cooked with vegetables. The type of vegetables range from carrots, pearl onions, eggplant, tomato, sweet potato and/or okra with a blend of various spices (Sambhar powder can be found at most Indian stores).

We love cooking with seasonal produce whenever we have the chance. On our recent trips to the lcoal market, we bought pumpkin.

Here are some great ways to enjoy this chunky dish: In a bowl with pieces of toasted bread; mixed with hot rice and a touch of ghee or clarified butter; or dip your favorite dosa or idlis. This dish is an explosion of sour, spicy, and sweet flavors. 

Let's begin making this dish, shall we? 

Ingredients:
- 1½ lbs of Pumpkin (Spanish or Calabaza)
- Tamarind (measure size of a lemon)
- 2 tbsp of Brown sugar/Jaggery
- ½ tsp of Turmeric powder
- ½ to 1 tsp of Chili powder (or as desired)
- ½ tsp of Fenugreek powder (optional)
- 1½ tbsp of Besan (if not available, use rice flour or cornstarch)


Brown sugar is not shown above

For the seasoning*:
- 1 tbsp of Vegetable oil
- 1 tsp of Whole Cumin seeds
- 1 tsp of Mustard seeds
- ¼ tsp of Hing/Asafoetida
- 5 or 6 Curry Leaves


Procedure: 
1) Pick a pumpkin with orange skin and make sure the skin is not woody. Remove the seeds and cut the pumpkin into 2" squares. (Hint: Peel the skin if it seems thick and woody)

2) Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of warm water for at least 15-20 min and later squeeze the juice out using at least 1 liter of water. Transfer the juice into a soup pot or large saucepan and add the pumpkin pieces, chili powder, turmeric, brown sugar, fenugreek powder and salt.


Cook on low to medium heat until the pumpkin is soft. (Hint: Knife should pierce the pieces easily)

3) When the pumpkin is cooked and liquid is boiling, mix the besan/flour in ½ cup of water and add to the broth stirring continuously. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the broth thickens and remove from heat and keep aside.

4) Prepare the seasoning (listed above) for soup in hot oil.



QUICK TIPS
- Pigeon peas are added to the preparation of the broth to thicken and reduce the sourness of the dish. Besan/flour and pumpkin help in thickening the dish and reduce the sourness taste.
- Check out Cooking 101 for tips on preparing the seasoning or click here to watch the video.
- Sambhar Powder can be substituted for the following ingredients: Hing, Fenugreek powder, and Chili powder.




Did you know: How closely related sambhar and gumbo really are? 1) They both fall within the same category of soups and stews, 2) have a strongly flavored stock, 3) combined with lots of vegetables to create this thick dish, and finally 4) are traditionally served over rice. 

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