Its only recently that I have started cooking with beets and I would still not count it as my favourite. I have it mainly because it ranks very high when it comes to nutrition and the taste is not that bad either. Adding it to the Sambar dishes is a brilliant idea since that makes a super healthy meal full of proteins, antioxidants and vitamins. And when served with rice dishes, voila! Its one of the healthiest food you can have in the world.
Beetroot Sambhar, or cukandar sambhar is a healthy sambar recipe where beetroot is used as main vegetable, made in Tamil style sambar. Beetroot is a colorful, healthy vegetable and it’s tastes good too. As beetroot itself is little sweet in taste, it brings a nice flavour to the sambar with tamarind balancing out the sourness You may serve this sambar with rice, dosa, pongal, upma etc.
You can also have it as a Vegan/Vegetable stew or soup along with a bread of your choice. This is primarily a vegan no garlic recipe.
What you need?
- 1 cup Pigeon peas lentils (Arhar/Toor Dal)
- A small piece of drumstick (Sahjan ki phali)
- 1 medium sized Beetroot (Cukandar)
- 1 medium Onion, chopped small
- 1 medium Tomato, chopped roughly
- 1 tbsp Sambhar powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp Tamarind, packed
- 1 tbsp Salt OR to taste
- 5-6 cups water
- A handful of fresh coriander leaves (cilantro/dhaniya)
To Temper or Tadka:
- 1 tbsp Oil or Ghee
- A pinch of Asafoetida/Hing
- A handful of Curry Leaves
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- ½ tsp Cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp Fenugreek seeds (Methi dana)
- 2-3 Green chilies, slit lengthwise
- 1 dried red chili
Wash dal thoroughly and soak it for about 10-20 minutes. Soak the tamarind in 1 cup warm water. In the meanwhile, wash, peel and chop the beetroot and keep it aside. Wash and chop the drumstick into 2-3 long pieces and keep aside.
Pour the drained dal in the pressure cooker with drumstick, beetroot and about 2 cups of water. Add salt and turmeric powder in it and pressure cook for upto 4 whistles or until cooked properly. Allow the pressure to release and open the cooker. Mash dal gently and keep aside.
Extract juice from tamarind and keep aside. ** See notes for alternative
Heat oil in a pan or wok (kadhai). Tip in heeng, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds (methi), curry leaves, green chili, dry red chili al together and fry for a few seconds till seeds start popping out. Add onion to the pan and sauté for a few minutes till they turn light pink or brownish.
Add tomato and sambar powder to the masala, mix well and cook covered till tomatoes get all mushy. Now, add tamarind water and bring it to good boil, simmer for 2-3 mins. Add cooked dal with beetroot, mix well.
Add more water as per your desired conistsancy and check the seasoning. Cover and cook at medium flame and bring to a boil then simmer for a few minutes till sambar thickens upa bit. Turn off.
You may also use readymade tamarind paste if you wish to avoid the whole extraction procedure. Take 1 ½ tsp tamarind paste and mix it with hot water, keep aside for a few minutes and then add it to the sambar as usual.
You may also add garlic or ginger in tempering to add in extra flavours. Typically garlic is not used in sambar dishes unless it’s a specialised one.
You may also add any other vegetable along with the beetroot like bottle guard (dudhi/lauki), mooli, brinjal (baingan/ravaya) etc.
If you are new to drumsticks and dont know whats the right way of eating them- Simply take them off the Sambar when its cooked properly. The juices and extracts from it is all we need, and thats already gone into the curry. So its fine to just take them off.
Another flavourful lentil and vegetable mix is this Lauki chane ki daal which is a nutrious mix of Bengal gram lentil and bottle guard (lauki/dudhi/ghiya)