Professional Development Day or Teacher's Work Day tend to turn into daytime nightmares for me. And it seems like the school district knows this and revels in the fact and therefore keeps dishing them out for free every couple of weeks. There was one on Feb 17th and then before I knew it another one hit me squarely between the eyes this past Friday. When the child in question is grounded, it's pure hell. It means no-one can come over; worse still, she can't go anywhere either. So out come all the kids activities and this last Friday, the knitting wheel was pulled out. It might have been a breeze if the packaging had not been hastily ripped apart and discarded and the instructions for weaving a hat were not lost.
My husband returned from a long 4-week stay in India that seemed like an eternity and we welcomed him with the traditional welcome meal: idli-sambar. Except that this time, I thought I'd try a different type of sambar: Shilpa's Kolmbo, a Konkani sambar made with coconut. It was a great hit, even with my daughter who generally steers away from anything with coconut in it. I adapted the kolmbo to our tastes and, to the die-hard purists, it may not be the way Konkani folks make it but we loved it.
Spicy Konkani Sambar with coconut
- 1 cup tur dal
- 1/4 packet frozen grated coconut
- 2 tsp chana dal**optional
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
- pinch asafoetida
- 7-8 fresh curry leaves or kadipatta
- 1/2 roll of cinnamon
- 6 cloves
- 6 Kashmiri red chillies
- 1/2 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 tsp tamarind concentrate**optional
- 3 tsp oil
- few sprigs of cilantro
- 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
- Cook the tur dal in a pressure cooker. General rule of thumb is to add 3 times as much water as there is dal and pressure cook for at least 4 whistles (pressure releases).
- On a griddle or small frying pan, heat 1 tsp oil and fry the coconut, chana dal, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, methi seeds, asafoetida, half the kadipatta, cinnamon, cloves and the red chillies. Fry while constantly stirring over medium heat
- Allow this mixture to cool and grind in a blender to a fine paste using about 1/2 cup (or less) of water. For quick cooling, drop a couple of ice cubes onto the pan and use less water while grinding into a paste.
- Put the cooked tur dal in a pot, add the frozen veggies, tamarind concentrate and the masala paste from the previous step and salt to taste. Add water to make the kolmbo less thick. About 1 cup is adequate. Use more or less depending on how thick or watery you like your sambar. Cook over medium-high heat until the veggies are cooked.
- Just before serving the kolmbo, heat 1 tsp oil in a small fry pan or tadka/phodni pan and add mustard seeds. When they crackle and splutter, add the remaining kadipatta to the oil
- Add this tempered oil to the kolmbo, garnish with cilantro and serve hot with idlis or rice