Thursday, 11 March 2010
Peerkangai is one of my favourite vegetable but only when the skin is removed (not scraped out!!! note the difference) totally. In my home my mom used to remove the skin completely before making dishes out of it's smooth flesh. I know very well that cooking this vegetable with skin intact satisfies part of your daily fibre requirements. But sometimes you love the taste you grew up with . This vegetable too has a mild sweet tinge to it. One important thing about this vegetable is, please taste it before using it for cooking. Some peerkangai has a bitter taste to it. You can't use it for cooking. My mom used to say that, snake has crawled over the peerkangai, that is why it has a bitter taste to it . So coming back to the point, I have seen people using it for making poriyal, kootu and chutney but using this vegetable for making sambhar is not that usual, atleast in our household. When I ate peerkangai sambhar for the first time I immediately liked it. Here goes the recipe for it :
Peerkangai- 2 nos
Toor dhal- 1 cup
Onion- 1 no
Garlic- 2 cloves (crushed)
Green chillies- 3 nos
Coconut scrappins- 2 tbspns
Coriander powder- 2 tbspns
Chilli powder- 2 tspns
Tamarind size of a very small lemon ( soak it and extract juice from it)
Mustard, fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds for tempering
A pinch of asafoetida
Salt and oil
Cook toor dhal and keep it aside. For sambhar the dhal should not be cooked into a paste. In madurai they used to say 'paruppu malarthiruchanu paru', it means check whether the dhal has bloomed (very beautiful word ofcourse!!!). The dhal should be cooked but should not be made into a paste. Now remove the skin of peerkangai completely. Then cut them into bit-sized pieces. Keep aside. Cut onions and green chillies. Crush the garlic cloves. Heat oil in a kadai. When it gets heated add the fenugreek. When it is brown add mustard and cumin seeds. Let them splutter. Then add onions, curry leaves, crushed garlic and a pinch of turmeric powder. Saute them till the onions become translucent. Then add the ridge gourd pieces and saute for a minute. Now add coriander powder, chilli powder and a pinch of asafoetida (perungayam). Saute for few seconds (take care not to burn them). After that add the tamarind juice and enough water. Bring the mixture to boil. Once peerkangai is cooked add salt to the mixture. Now add the cooked toor dhal to it. Boil for a few minutes and simmer it for 5 more minutes. Before simmering you can add coconut scrappings. Tasty, tasty sambhar is ready to serve.
Taste enhancing tips for this recipe :
Making sambhar is itself an art. I will say what you should not do inorder to get a good sambhar .
1) Please do not cook the dhal and vegetables together in a cooker (might be you can save time but not your sambhar ). The vegetables should always be cooked in tamarind water. If you mix everything and make it into a paste, then it can no more be called as a sambhar.
2) For a good sambhar tempering is very important. I have seen people who cannot wait till the oil gets heated. They just throw in the mustard and other tempering ingredients before the oil gets heated. Never do it. First add fenugreek seeds in well-heated oil. When the seeds turn brown and emit nice aroma add the mustard and jeera seeds. Wait till the mustard splutters before you add onions. This kind of tempering brings out the real aroma of sambhar.
3) Never use a store bought sambhar powder. In my experience MTR is OK and the other sambhar powders are no good. Instead of sambhar powder use coriander powder and chilli powder seperately.
4) Never add too much of tamarind or too little of tamarind. If you add too much of tamarind it becomes a pulikuzhambu and too little of tamarind makes it taste not so good. So be careful when adding tamarind juice. Add little by little and adjust according to the taste.
5) As I have already said do not make dhal into a paste. The dhal must be cooked and the individual lentils should be visible clearly.
6) If you get shallots (small onions) always use it instead of the big ones.
If you follow this I am sure your sambhar will taste good .