A flavorful combination that makes a great vegetarian main or a side dish as part of a more elaborate Indian dinner. I had difficulty finding the South Indian sambar powder used in this dish and ended up ordering it from I Shop Indian along with the toovar dal and a jar of dried Kari leaves. Serve with rice or an Indian bread such as roti or nan.
Based on the recipe in Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni.
1 cup toovar dal (yellow lentils) or supermarket yellow split peas, culled and washed
Heaping ¼ t turmeric
1 lb fresh or frozen Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half if large
¼ lb fresh or frozen green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 one-inch ball tamarind pulp soaked in ½ cup warm water for 15 minutes and pressed through a wire mesh sieve to remove the seeds and hard casing. Keep the pulp and juice and discard the rest.
3 T sesame or vegetable oil
¾ t black mustard seeds
¼ t fenugreek seeds
2 t minced garlic
1 T sambar powder
Salt to taste
6-8 fresh or dried kari leaves or 2 T chopped cilantro
To cook the lentils, put them in a 3 quart sauce pan along with the turmeric powder and 4 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer partially covered until lentils are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Add ¾ cup water and reduce heat to a whisper of a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until lentils completely dissolve, an additional 30 minutes or so. Off the heat whip the lentils with a wire whisk and set aside.
To finish the stew, in a sauce pan heat the oil over high heat and add the mustard seeds, stir until gray, about 15 seconds and add the fenugreek, sauté for another minute and stir in the garlic and sambar powder. Add the Brussels sprouts to the spice mixture and stir until they are thoroughly coated, about 2-3 minutes. Add the tamarind pulp and ¼ cup warm water. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until cooked but still crisp tender, about 20 minutes.
Return the lentils to the sauce pan along with the green beans and continue cooking until the vegetables reach the desired tenderness, about 10 to 15 minutes. Off the heat stir in the kari leaves or cilantro. Correct the seasoning and serve.