This was a popular version of sambhar until a few years ago. It is an easy-to-make dish and tastes wonderful with plain rice and a dash of ghee. It is also goes very well with chapattis, upma and pongal.

What you need

For the lentil balls

Toor Dal - 3/4 cup

Channa Dal - 1/4 cup

Red chillies - 6

Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp

Mustard - 1 tsp

Salt - to taste

For the sambhar

Tamarind juice – 3 cups (extracted from a lemon-sized ball)

Sambhar powder - 2 tbsp

Asafoetida - 1 tsp

Salt - to taste

Mustard - 1 tsp

Oil - as required

Cooking instructions

Soak the dals for an hour. Wash and drain the water.

Grind the red chillies, dals and salt into a coarse paste.

Heat two tsp of oil in a heavy kadai, add the mustard and when it sputters, add the asafoetida and the dal paste. Stir and cook till the paste becomes a semi-solid, pliable mass. Allow the mass to cool. Roll the dough into lemon-sized balls.

Meantime prepare the sambhar. In a wide kadai, heat oil and add the mustard. When it sputters, add the asafoetida and after a few seconds, add the sambhar powder. Heat for just one or two minutes and then add the tamarind extract and salt. Boil till the raw smell of the tamarind and the sambhar powder disappears. Then add the lentil balls gently without breaking them. Lower the flame and let the sambhar boil gently for ten minutes. Switch off the flame and cover with a lid. The lentil ball sambhar is ready.

(R.S. Rajan retired from the IAAS and lived abroad for 25 years before returning to Chennai. He produced a couple of TV shows on Indian cooking and also conducted cooking classes.)

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012