Thursday, June 12, 2014

South Indian recipes with WHAT? Yes, a slow cooker! - Sambar

Dh had for a long time been harping on how slow cooker was the best friend of a working woman and how his friend's spouse was really enjoying cooking with it and how they saved time too...I was thinking more along the lines of: one more unused kitchen gadget that I don't need, a waste of money, and precious kitchen space (A few rows of pantry hold two different blenders- each with 2-4 different jars, toaster, two choppers, one food processor - all of which I use medium to rare) and garage space (which holds even more gadgets that are never very rarely used! Then one day we were out at a thrift store and browsing through the kitchen section we saw this and DH was like..why don't you try one..if it is not used we can trash it without worrying over the price spent. I liked that idea and we ended up with one. 
   My first try was a channa masala as I knew that it I did not have to worry about pre-soaking the daal. However, I missed out on sautéing the onions before and I did not like the taste of my channa in the end. 
Lesson #1 on slow-cooking: Do not put the onions raw when making curries/sabjis. Always sauté first.
The next I tried was a south indian quick sambar which came out way better!

Masoor dal (Whole and dehulled) Sambar:


  • Small Onions - 10 - peeled and whole
  • Carrot - 1, medium sized, chopped
  • Radish - 1, chopped
  • Tomatoes -2, chopped
  • Whole Masoor dal - 1/2 cup
  • Dehulled masoor dal - 1/2 cup
  • Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
  • Chilli powder - to taste (I used 1 tsp)
  • Sambar powder/Curry Powder - 2 tbsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil - 1 tbsp

1Add the dhals to the crockpot and fill with water to be just above the dals. Add the turmeric powder.
2. Add 1 tbsp oil to a sauce pan, wait till it warms, add mustard and once it crackles, add the onions and saute them till they are lightly browned. Then add one by one all other vegetables and saute nicely (2-3 minutes)

3. Add chilli powder, sambar/curry powder and mix nicely. 

4. Add enough water, 1 tsp tamarind paste, mix well and transfer to the crock pot. Set timer for 6 hrs as desired in low cooking temperature. Close with lid and make sure there is at least an inch or two space empty. Do not fill until the brim as it may overflow to the heating element and cause a mess. (Believe me, I have done it and suffered! Not easy to clean up all the cooked up blackish soot on the heating element)

 5. After 6 hrs, mix well and serve with cooked rice/idly/dosa.


1. With slow cooker, the dal is cooked, but remains in whole. For those who do not like the dals this way, use a hand blender (immersion) to slowly blend the sambar. Make sure you take some vegetables out so you do not end up with a soup!
2. In case of overflow to heating element, do not use water. Use a tooth brush, or dish scrubber and slowly try to take the soot off. I did have to use a heavy steel scrubber to take it off but I did not buy a $$$$ slow cooker and was fine with repairing it in the process ;)
3. The flavors are a little different from what happens when you cook via pressure cooking the dal. So be prepared for it.

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