Spicy Sambhar and A Pinkie Tale ~ For Suganya

don't you just love a lazy Friday night...
oh, I am the king of my kitchen-floor castle… la, la, la la la…

Pinkie is a laid-back cat. He never seeks the spotlight — and hardly ever looks twice at toys. Not a bit like flighty little miss Daisy, always underfoot and looking for attention — she loves to play and will sit with her toys, gazing up at you pitifully until you satisfy her whim.

One thing Pinkie does like is string, so last night while he was lounging around the kitchen, I tried to entice him with a new toy. If you have a rambunctious kitty like Daisy, you may not think this looks like ‘play’ — but for Pinks, it’s a regular party! For more kitty commentary, hover over the photos…

what's this... yawn...
oh brother, here she goes with the toys again… ‘come on pinks, exercise is good for you’… that’s all I ever hear… nag nag nag…

oh great, she kicked it closer... yawn...
but mom, sprawling on the floor *is* good exercise…

I can't hear you... yawn...
ho hum… I’m not listening…

hmm... what's this I smell...
she’ll never entice me, never never never… unless… wait… what’s this…

now this is more like it...
could it be, could it be… did she dunk this…

hooray hooray!!
o joy, o joy, o happy day! She did, she did, she did dunk this in catnip!!
Ok mom, I quit you win, I’ll play I’ll play!!!

don't you just love a lazy Friday night...
ahhh, I am the king in my cozy-comforter castle… zzzzzz


I had planned to spend this weekend in Michigan, but something came up and plans changed at the last. Of course in my disappointment, I went looking for some comfort, and what better comfort food than sambhar?

I have tried dozens of sambhars and never met one I didn’t love. I could have sambhar daily, and then to change things up a little, for a few days I might eat *only* sambhar.

Last night I happened upon this mouthwatering recipe at Suganya’s yummy blog. While the vadai looked melt-in-your-mouth delicious, I was not of a mind to start deep-frying late at night. The sambhar however… it was too much to resist. The recipe called for grinding the paste with onion and tomato — something I have never seen before. I had to try it at once!

ingredients for spicy sambhar paste
all the ingredients for suganya’s spicy sambhar paste: coriander and methi seeds, chana dal, raw rice, grated coconut, fresh tomato and onion, and plenty of dried red chiles!

(Incidentally, this is the first time I have not used ISG’s magic sambhar powder since I can’t remember when. I almost felt guilty! πŸ˜‰ )

I noticed that my tolerance for heat has come a long way in just a couple of years.
I used every last dried chile called for in this recipe — a first for me.
This is is one fragrant and fiery sambhar!

I followed Suganya’s original recipe almost exactly — I added drumsticks to the dal and garlic to the tadka, and prepared it just a little differently.

Here is how I made it:

For the dal:

1/2 c toor dal
1 TB washed moong dal
2 tsp tamcon
1/2 tsp turmeric
10 2″-3″ pieces drumstick (I have to use frozen)

For the paste:

1 tsp canola oil
2 TB coriander seeds
1 1/2 TB chana dal
1 tsp raw rice
1/4 tsp methi seeds
2 TB grated coconut
8 dried red chiles

2 TB chopped red onion
1/4 c chopped tomato

For the tadka:

1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chopped garlic
6-8 curry leaves
1/2 c coarsely chopped red onion

salt to taste

chopped tomato for garnishing
ghee for dolloping


Pressure cook all the ingredients for the dal with 2 1/2 c water. I don’t have a whistling cooker — I cooked about 8 minutes. Remove and reserve the drumsticks, and mash the dal well.

Toast the spice paste ingredients in oil until fragrant. Cool slightly and grind to a paste with the onion and tomato. I added about 1/4 water to get a smooth paste.

suganya's sambhar paste
radiating heat from toasted red chiles ~ suganya’s sambhar paste

Toast the mustard seeds, garlic, and curry leaves in oil. Add the onions and cook just until they begin to change color. Remove the onions and hold aside. Add the ground paste and cook 2-3 minutes — by now a heady aroma will be filling the kitchen and you will be praising Suganya to the stars! Add the cooked dal, drumsticks, and 2 cups water. Stir well to blend, then simmer, uncovered, 10-15 minutes. Add salt to taste, and you’re ready to serve.

Find your favorite bowl. Pour a big ladle of the cheerfully bubbling brew over plenty of steaming hot sona masuri rice. Top with a few of the reserved onions and chopped tomato. Add a healthy dollop of ghee (hey, it’s comfort food, right!), find your spoon and take the whole kit and kaboodle to your favorite comfy chair.

Sit back, relax, and take a deep breath. Let the mysterious power of sambhar wash away the worries of your day. Then savor each and every bite πŸ™‚

suganya's fragrant and fiery sambhar
ablaze with pungent red chiles ~ suganya’s spicy sambhar

Thank you Suganya, for this fabulous recipe!


Oh, and ISG — you didn’t really think I could make sambhar without you did you? πŸ˜‰

wooden mathu in its natural habitat
using a kadaisal gives any dish that ‘extra something special’…

And now it’s time for summertime dreaming… of home sweet Michigan in all her June glory…

michigan sunrise
misty sunrise over Glen Lake ~ Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
near Empire, Michigan


  1. Aparna said

    Sambhar is great stuff. There many variations to this,dpending on where it is made, but it tastes great every time!
    And the last kitty picture, if ever there was a a contented cat, that’s her.:D

    That’s what I strive for, Aparna… tasty sambhar and contented kitties make for a cosy evening πŸ™‚

  2. Nupur said

    Pinkie is soooo adorable…and she reminds me so much of my old roommate’s cat Oreo!
    I can almost taste that sambar…mmm πŸ™‚

    Thanks Nupur! Just can’t help loving cats. Where is adorable Dale these days? πŸ™‚

  3. Asha said

    Linda, Linda, Linda!! Pinkie for a boy?! I am thinking like Max or Sam! He should sue you for defamation girl! Hahaha!!
    Look who is talku=ing? We named Arvind Junior for our doggie! πŸ˜€

    Pinkie is a macho guy, bet he can chase AJ like our neighbor mad Max does!:)

    Sambhar,yum! I have one Vada Sambhar in the draft too, don’t know when I can post,I am catching up these events all the time, got to stop that first!
    Enjoy the Sunday.
    All my gourds have sprouted! YAY!

    Asha, you’re way ahead of me in the garden. Up here in north country my little mystery gourds and other seeds are just coming up. Tomatoes and eggplant on the deck going like mad though!

    Pinkie — he belonged to an elderly lady and when I adopted him, that was already his name. Poor thing had moved 3 times in a year. I couldn’t bear to traumatise him by making him learn a new name, too πŸ™‚

    Watching for your sambhar vadas! πŸ™‚

  4. lavi said

    You know..Yesterday afternoon i prepared this Sambhar vada..following suganya’s recipe..who can resist just drooling at her pictures??

    It tasted wellll right…sambhar vada’s very very tasty too..

    Hi Lavi — I agree, who can resist Suganya’s photos, or her recipes! πŸ™‚

  5. indosungod said

    Linda, love watching those Pinky pictures. He is so happy.
    I am glad that you are hooked to sambhar powder as I am, I add it even when it is not called for, I can understand how you feel! But yes there is sambhar without sambhar powder and the sambhar looks delicious.

    I am typing as I am watching 2 golden finches feeding away happily πŸ™‚

    I am so glad you’ve got goldies!! They are so cheerful, especially on a drab rainy day. Hooked on sambhar powder is an understatement, for us, yes? πŸ™‚

  6. indosungod said

    It didn’t come out right, ofcourse I know you are hooked to sambhar powder as I am.

    I’m hooked because you spoiled me, ISG! πŸ˜‰
    And I wouldn’t complain!! πŸ™‚

  7. Happy Cook said

    Hi hi if i was pinkie i will also be the mSTER OF THE KITCHEN.
    Lov the sambhar.
    I like them with plain rice one of my comfort foods

    That’s how I like it too, HC, with plain rice and if I really need comforting, a spoon of ghee πŸ™‚ Pinkie will be glad to share his kitchen-castle with you!

  8. bee said

    what a beautiful kitty. linda, you are tempting m to change my mind about sambar. when i do make it, i do grind shallots into it.

    You never know, Bee — as my son reminds me — ‘tastes change’. Maybe now you really love it and you just don’t know it πŸ˜‰ Pinkie says “thank you very much”.

  9. sra said

    How come he came to be called Pinkie? That sambar paste looks gorgeous!

    Hi Sra, see how well I do when I follow directions! πŸ˜‰
    Pinkie came to me already named — he was adopted along with Daisy and I didn’t have the heart to change his name. Daisy on the other hand was only a kitten at the time, and they called her “Diesel”! THAT got changed to Daisy πŸ˜‰

  10. rachel said

    Do tell us how he came to be known as PINKIE πŸ˜€

    Sambar is a comfort food for me..it took quite a few times before I could make a near-perfect sambar…

    Hi Rachel, it’s how he came to me and I didn’t have the heart to make him learn a new name. Why his previous owner named him that is a mystery, but he does have a cute pink nose! πŸ™‚

    Sambhar is now one of the few dishes I feel confident to make without a recipe. I’ve had tons of practice and several flubs — however — I love it so much that I truly feel the only imperfect sambhar is the one we never make πŸ˜‰

  11. Suganya said

    Dearest Linda,

    I can’t tell you how much this means to me, coming from a sambar lover like you :). I can’t stop beaming looking at your pictures. Thank you very very much.

    And now I want to rub my face against Pinkie’s belly. Some of my cats purely hated that, and I used to taunt ’em by doing it over and over again :D. Pinkie sleeps like a baby. Mwaah!

    Dearest Suganya,

    Your recipe is simply fantastic. I think you could bottle that paste and sell it! Let me know when you get started on that πŸ˜‰

    I’m so happy to know you enjoyed the post and the Pinkie Tale! He would be purring to hear such sweet things from you, I’m sure πŸ™‚

  12. Simply superb pics Linda. I love that sambar vada. Its equally drool worthy as in Sug’s site. Sambar is an all time comfort food for me too πŸ™‚

    Hi Nirmala, and thanks! It’s a rainy day today and I would love a bowl *with* the vadas for comfort πŸ˜‰

  13. Ravi said

    Hi Linda,
    I hopped in here a while ago through Indira’s blog but this is the first time I am commenting. It amazes me to learn how much you, who is completey based outside of India, and not having any connection to India, is so passionate about Indian food and have also mastered at it. You have pressure cooker, a churner wow! more than being amazed, I am completely “awe-spired” (if that is the right word!) by your passion and love for cooking and the niceness which you radiate in your posts. Do keep readers like us charged up with your lovely posts and have a great week ahead Linda!

    Hi Ravi, I’m so glad you decided to say hello! Thank you for such a lovely comment πŸ™‚ I love your word “awe-spired” — I would like to use that sometime! Let me pass by your blog now — again, thanks and welcome! πŸ™‚

  14. Cynthia said

    I’ve never tried making sambar but I can just imagine when the heat hits that paste how it lights up the kitchen. Yum!

    Hi Cyn — I’m thinking you would love sambhar — do give it a try sometime! πŸ™‚

  15. lakshmi said

    Pinkie is way too adorable – I love cats – My roomie and one of my friends during my grad days were animal activists – I have shared room space in my hostel (unknown to the warden of course) with so many kittens. Its wonderful to watch them.

    Hi Lakshmi, I agree — cats are the best. Thanks for your kind words about Pinkie πŸ™‚

  16. lakshmi said

    oh, btw, one of our cats was called “pattanni” -cats get all sorts of names πŸ˜€

    Perhaps we should take a hint from the kitties! πŸ˜‰

  17. mallugirl said

    It is only in my second reading that i noticed that pinkie is a he!! Cute pictures of your cats. vada sambhar is a fav here..had it last weekend too. gotto try this sambhar..looks really fiery.

    Yea, he’s got a funny name but definitely a boy cat πŸ˜‰ S you have to try this sambhar — you’ll love it. VERY hot! πŸ™‚

  18. meeso said

    What a cute post and cute cat… My boy cat is like that, It’s so hard to get him to romp and play… The food looks great!

    Glad to know I’m not the only one with a finicky boy cat, Meeso πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping! πŸ™‚

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: