Recipe for beetroot sambar – a South Indian dish prepared using yellow lentils and beets, to be had with plain steamed rice or any other cooked grains like millet or quinoa.
Types of sambar
Sambar is the staple food in any Tamilian household. [read: how to make the perfect sambar] 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.
If you thought there is only one kind of sambar, the one served with idlis and dosas in a hotel, you are sadly mistaken 😛
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.
Cooking with beetroots
As a kid, I would love messing my hands with the peel when my grandmom used to be busy chopping beets up for beetroot sambar. 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. LOL, right?
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, to which it imparts a brilliant colour, like this healthy pav bhaji.
The other is in a beetroot sambar, like this one. The flavours from the tamarind and sambar powder pretty much mask the weirdly sweet flavour of beets.
How to make beetroot sambar
You can easily prepare the beetroot sambar or beet and lentil stew in an Instant Pot, because diced beets and yellow lentils have a similar cooking time of around 8-10 minutes in full pressure. In my method, I use the tiered vessels in a regular pressure cooker. Lentils (tur dal) is in one compartment and quartered beets in the other. Peel and dice the cooked beets and add to the cooked lentils, along with tamarind puree and sambar powder to prepare this beetroot sambar.
More sambar recipes:
Originally published on May 20, 2006. Updated with new photos and text.
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