Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sambhar with Okra

Do we spend enough time talking about how much we love okra? Probably not. We'd start another blog called I Heart Okra, but we're assuming there's a limited market for I Heart [Green Thing] blogs. Here's another way to showcase our favorite mucilaginous vegetable. This sambhar--inspired by versions we had in Kerala and adapted from Savoring the Spice Coast of India--is like an Indian answer to gumbo: thick, satisfying, spicy, and okra-licious.

1 and 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup yellow split peas, rinsed

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 cup pureed tomato
2 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 cup minced onion
1 jalapeno chile, sliced lengthwise (you can scoop the seeds out if you want less spice)
12 branches cilantro: stems and leaves minced separately
4 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida*
1 teaspoon tamarind paste

1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 dried red chile
1 sprig curry leaves, stemmed (optional, if you can find them)
1/2 lb. okra, ends trimmed, sliced lengthwise

Combine water and dal in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 30-40 minutes, until dal is soft.

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the fenugreek seeds and stir for 3o second or so, just until they brown. Add 2 cups water, potatoes, tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro stems, spices, salt and tamarind. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a wok. (Yes, we're making you dirty three separate pans! It's worth it, though). Add the mustard seeds, and when they pop, add the curry leaves and chiles and stir quickly. Throw in the okra and fry until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes or so, stirring constantly.

Now put it all together: pour the peas and okra into the large saucepan with the veggies and taste for salt. Top with the minced cilantro leaves and serve.

*ETA: Apparently asafoetida is not gluten-free, so please leave it out if you're cooking for anyone who is! Don't worry, the sambhar will still be okra-tastic and yummy.


Anonymous said...

Actually, asafoetida is generally not gluten-free, fyi. Just wanted to post this in case any Celiacs come across it. Most asafoetida power in the US is cut with wheat flour, although you might get lucky and find either the pure root, or stuff cut with rice flour. In general though it's a no-no.

I Heart Kale said...

Thanks for letting us know--we're not GF ourselves so we really appreciate any tips from those of you who are!

The asafoetida isn't really necessary here--I think the dish would still be delicious without it.

Anonymous said...

1-1/2 cups water seems like such a tiny amount of soup, I usually use recipes that call for 6-8 cups water or broth and freeze any leftovers. Will the 1-1/2 cups water magically make an enormous amount of soup or should I just quadruple the recipe?:) Love your blog!

I Heart Kale said...

There's an additional 2 cups of water added in the second step, and the tomato puree also bulks it up a little. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Oh, OK, I think the extra 2 cups are in the directions but not in the ingredient list unless my eyes are deceiving me. I think I'll use my homemade veggie broth -- or is it a waste of veggie broth if you are adding so many spices and such to it ya think? I'm always undecided about that one. Now I only have to double the recipe!:)

I Heart Kale said...

You shouldn't need veggie broth for this. Enjoy!