Heat the oil in a pan and put in the asafoetida first. Then add all the other ingredients and roast till the chillies turn crisp and the other ingredients turn golden brown. To roast all the ingredients evenly the flame should be medium high. Keep the roasted ingredients aside to cool. Then grind them to a fine powder in a mixer.
This powder can be added to a number of dishes. But the most important item that is made with this powder is 'Sambar'.
Sambar is made with dal and vegetables. Any vegetable can be used for preparing Sambar. You can use just one vegetable or a combination of three, four or five vegetables.
Procedure for preparing Sambar
1. Cook about 250 gm of split gram (pigeon pea) with a pinch of turmeric powder.
2. When the dal is half cooked put in the vegetables. You can put in carrots, potatoes, brinjals, white pumpkin, etc. Alternatively, you can cook the dal and vegetables in the pressure cooker.
3. Grate half a coconut.
4. Take two tablespoons of Sambar powder and grind it along with the grated coconut and add it to the cooked dal and vegetables. Alternatively, you can add the powder directly without grinding it to a paste with coconut.
5. Boil for 5 mts.
6. Add the required amount of salt and boil for 5 mts.
7. Add a teaspoon of tamarind paste. Or soak some tamarind in water and squeeze out its essence. Add a cup of tamarind essence.
8. Boil for 5 mts.
9. Season the Sambar. Roast a teaspoon of mustard and cumin seeds in a spoonful of oil and add. A pinch of asafoetida can also be added.
10. Add curry leaves and chopped green coriander for additional flavour.
11. You can add a teaspoon of ghee and keep the Sambar covered for 5 mts.
This powder is also used for preparing curry or dry vegetable preparations and for preparing spiced rice. For this Sambar powder, tamarind essence and salt are added to rice and it is seasoned. Usually in restaurants Sambar is served as a side dish with Dosa and Idli. In that Sambar only onion is added to dal and this powder is put in directly.
Sambars which have one or more vegetables, wherein the powder is ground with grated coconut and added is also called 'Koottu' Whenever this type of Sambar is prepared it should be boiled on medium heat till the powder and tamarind essence get cooked, blend well with the dal and vegetables and exude a delicious smell.