Sunday, July 5, 2009

Udipi Sambar

One of the things I missed most when I moved out of Mumbai was something I had taken for granted all those years when I was growing up - Udipi restaurants. They dotted the landscape, especially the King's Circle and Matunga neighbourhood where we lived, and we loved the food they dished out. Clean, efficient and cheap - these were places we went to whether we wanted an early morning South Indian breakfast on a Sunday morning or a pav bhaji in the evenings. College saw us practically camped in one of these places as our burgeoning appetite never matched our wallets - we enjoyed their paper dosais and masala uttapams, their thick milkshakes and cold juices.
Anand Bhavan was a particular favourite of my Dad's for their rasam wadas, while I preferred the AC Udipi Cafe. Mom loved the South Indian "meals" at the Udipi place near Matunga station - unlimited food for Rs. 40!. Shree Sundars came much later when I had just started my degree in Podar and it became an instant favourite with our gang. Then there were the die hard fans of Mani's behind Ruia college where they literally drank the chutney! What is your favourite Udipi place to eat in Mumbai?

When I moved to Chennai and ate my first idli outside of home at Saravana Bhavan - I didn't like it! Because they didn't have the Udipi sambar to go with it, nor the flat, large, coarse idlis. The sambar at the eating places in Chennai were almost like what we made at home - there was no tantalising hint of sweetness at the edges nor was there coconut in the masala. The sambar at Udipi restaurants have their own fan following - on Sunday mornings in Anand Bhavan we found it amusing to see people coming and ordering plates of idlis and dosais as take away; they would bring those steel many-tiered dabbas to fill up extra "sambhur"!

It was then that I got hold of this recipe and whenever the urge struck, I would make Udipi Sambar at home. I love this sambar and often serve it with idlis or dosai or just with rice for lunch. Its the jaggery and the coconut which make all the difference. I used drumsticks and small onions - but feel free to substitute with pumpkin, ash gourd or even just small onions alone.

Everytime I go back to Mumbai, I make it a point to visit our old haunts. A visit to Udipi itself is on my travel list, but don't know when that will happen. This month though we are likely to have a virtual food tour of Udipi & Mangalore courtesy this month's RCI theme - Udipi & Mangalorean cuisine - being hosted by Sia of Monsoon Spice.
This event was originally the brainchild of Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine.

Udipi Sambar


Tur dal - 1/2 cup (cooked in 3-4 cups water in a pressure cooker till soft, then whipped or mashed till smooth)
Tamarind - small lime size ball soaked in 1 cup water and pulp extracted
Small onions - 10-12, soaked and peeled
1 tsp jaggery
1-2 drumsticks, chopped into 2-3" batons

Masala paste:
1/4 coconut grated (fresh)
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
1/2 tsp urad dal seeds
1.5 tsp coriander seeds (dhania)
dried red chillies -6
curry leaves - handful
1 tsp oil

Roast all ingredients, keeping the coconut and curry leaves to the last few minutes. Cool and grind to a paste

mustard seeds (rai) - 1 tsp
urad dal seeds - 1tsp
green chilli - 1 slit
curry leaves - handful
asafoetida (hing) - pinch
2 tsp oil

1. In a heavy pan, add the oil and when it is hot the tempering ingredients. Saute the onions and then add the drumstick pieces and cook in half a cup of water till just tender.
2. Pour in the tamarind pulp, salt to taste and jaggery - add 1.5 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower flame and simmer for about 10-15 minutes till the raw smell disappears.
3. Add the mashed dal and the masala paste and simmer for another 5 minutes, adding some more water if it is too thick.
4. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with idlis.


Nupur said...

Miri- I enjoyed your post very you, I have wonderful memories of Udipi restaurants in Bombay. My aunt and I were huge fans of "Udipi Sri Krishna" in Andheri (w). For a few years, we ate there so often that the staff treated us like family :D
Having a good Udipi sambar recipe will transform our idli-dosa meals! Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe!

Archana said...

Yaay...I love this type of sambar. We always got this at 'darshinis' in bangalore...thats another chain of these amazing idli vada places...In Amd, we get horrendous sambar in the 'South indian' joints...

Miri said...

Thanks Nupur - I guess Udipi has fond memories for all of us :)

Miri said...

Arch - remember the time we went and pigged out on Sunday morning at the place near your house?!

Srivalli said...

Nice read Miri...guess we always miss those days!..

Red Chillies said...

Even though I have visited Bombay many times, I am not familiar with the udupi hotels that you have mentioned. But the udipi Sambhar does bring out strong memories in me and it is one of our favorite sambhars.

Cilantro said...

I have had Udipi Sambar in Hyderabad and I love them. I think they add jaggery to the sambar in the end which makes them a little sweet I guess.

Sig said...

I don't even know if I have ever had an authentic udupi sambar! I don't like the idly-sambar combo, even though I like sambar with rice. Your post makes me crave for some udupi sambar! There is a type of kerala sambar with roasted coconut which is my favorite, this sounds similar.

Miri said...

@Sig - definitely the Udipis in Mumbai don't serve the real thing I guess...but atleast they give me a taste of what the authentic version would be like - which is why I have Udipi on my list of food related travel :)

Sia said...

wonderful write-up with delicious entry! Thank you, Miri :)

Bong Mom said...

You know we have a Sarvana Bhawan here and I love the food. Did not know udipi sambar tastes different. We just think that sambar at some restaurants are good(i.e. suits our taste) while others not ;-)

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

A lot of the time, we tend to drive down to Kerala from Goa. One thing we emsure is that we have at least one meal in the town of Udupi. :)
You might like to send this to Sia for RCI this month.

lubnakarim06 said...

Oh wow...looks delectable....must try in my list.....

Meera said...

I have a long list of udipi restaurants of mumbai. Love balaji of bandra, and then RK of vileparle, and Mani's near Ruia, and SK near Ruparel and Cafe madras at matunga and Ram Nayaks's too and then all those "S" udipis too - satkar and suvidha and so on!! can't pick the most favorite but love them all and love all that yummy udipi food even more!!
Nice post. and loved your sambar too.

Anonymous said...

We ( me and my wife ) tried this today and it came out excellent.I am from Mumbai and a big fan of Mumbai Udipi restaurants.

Thanks a lot.I was looking for this for a long time.

Excuse me for the comment ,but I can not help but have to say that the real taste comes when you get a burp.You can actually taste the aroma.:)

Miri said...

@Anonymous - Thank you for your kind comments! Glad you liked it!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am first timer here. I google searched for Udipi Style Sambhar and Voila! this comes up. I am so excited to try it. Not only do I miss this from my days in Bombay but on a recent trip, when one of my American friends came along to travel, she tasted idli-sambhar udipi style for the first time ever, not to ever look back! She's been pestering me since, that she wants idli-sambhar like Shabri (our next door udipi). She's been sniggering at all the so called south Indian joints here in Boston. Thanks to you, we might have our very own Udipi breakfast.

Miri said...

Anonymous - Hope you get to have a great breakfast!