Beetroot Sambar - Beets and lentils
Recipe for beetroot sambar - a South Indian dish prepared using yellow lentils and beets, to be had with plain steamed rice.
Sambar is the staple food in any Tamilian household. It’s a balance of protein from lentils, vitamins from the vegetables, calcium and potassium from tamarind. It is usually served with rice and a dry vegetable curry.
Many a people have this misconception that there is just one sambar. However, a true blue Tamilian will beg to differ. Vegetables that can be used in a Sambar are Madras onions, carrots, Bhindi / okra, Pumpkin, Radish, Sweet Potato, Drumstick etc. But that doesn't restrict you from using any vegetable that you have on hand, or even any green leafy vegetables that are in season.
As a kid, I would love messing my hands with the peel when my grandmom used to be busy chopping beets up. I would also love the natural red blush-on effect when the peel was rubbed on the cheeks. I can call myself a visionary for discovering organic make up even before the world had thought of it 😂😂😂
I’m not too fond of the sweet, almost metallic taste in the beetroots. There are only two ways I can eat this vegetable, one is to grate some parts of it into a spicy curry-where it imparts a brilliant colour without imparting much of its taste, like this healthy pav bhaji, and the other is in a beetroot sambar.
Beetroot Sambar - South Indian Beetroot and Lentils
- Pressure cook the dal with a pinch of turmeric. If you don't have a pressure cooker, then soak dal for 30 minutes and boil with 3 cups of water for 30-40 minutes until mushy.
- Pressure cook the beetroot. If you are using a pressure cooker, use the separators and cook dal in one compartment and beets in the other to save time. Cooking time is similar for both tur dal and beetroot.
- Tug off the skins from the cooked beetroot and cut into thick slices and then into half moons.
- Heat the oil in a pot. Add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds pop, add a pinch of asafoetida and give it a quick stir.
- Add the cooked chopped beets, stir for around for 2 minutes. Add the tamarind extract to this and bring to a simmer.
- Slake the sambar powder in 1/4 cup water and add it to the pot. Bring to a simmer.
- Put the cooked dal, salt and boil for 2 minutes.
- Serve with steamed rice and ghee.
The same sambar recipe can be prepared using radish, carrot, turnip or sweet potato. In case of carrot or sweet potato, the vegetable can be sliced and added raw, allowing it to cook by simmering in tamarind water. Beetroot takes a long time to cook, hence better to use pre-cooked beets.
Check this recipe for a delicious Beetroot Halwa that is my aunt's specialty!
And these healthy beetroot chips made in the airfryer