Since my husband mostly prefers variety rices packed for lunch during weekdays, i get to make sambar and gojju only during weekends. Sambar mixed with rice and a dollop of ghee has a heavenly taste. Back at home, mom makes sambar and gojju alternately all week. Honestly, in my home even if it's sambar or gojju, the type of dish once prepared is not repeated until atleast a month. Though usually sambar is made with the home-made sambar powder, there are other varieties of sambar made with instantly ground pastes and powders. Here is one variety of sambar which we usually call as "Arachuvitta sambar" made on festive occasions. This is a thick gravy of vegetables(in any combination) with a freshly ground spicy paste.
Vegetables(red pumpkin, drumstick, potato, raw banana, broadbeans) - 2 cups
Toor dal - 1 cup.
Tamarind - large lemon sized ball
Chana dal - 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 2 heaped tbsp
Methi seeds - 1/2 tsp
Red chillies - 5-6
Jeera - 1 tsp
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
curry leaves - 6 leaves
Oil - 2 tbsp
Pressure cook toor dal in 2 cups of water along with turmeric. In a kadai heat one tbsp of oil. Fry chana dal, red chillies, coriander seeds, methi seeds, jeera. When the spices turn light brown, switch off the flame, add coconut and fry for a minute. Cool and grind to a paste adding water. Get pulp out of tamarind(i usually boil tamarind with water in microwave for 2 minutes and then extract the pulp).
Boil vegetables and tamarind extract until vegetables are half cooked. Add the ground paste and let it boil for few more minutes. Add cooked toor dal and let it boil for 5 minutes. Fry mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida in remaining oil and add this tadka to sambar. Serve with rice and a side dish, rice crispies.
Pair radish and small red onions(sambar onions) as vegetables for this sambar. The rich flavor of red onions adds a unique taste of the sambar.