Sambar traditionally calls for tamarind to be used as the souring agent in the lentil-based dish. Tamarind was in widespread use in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and surrounding areas for many reasons – one important reason being, the ground water contained a lot of fluoride, and tamarind impeded fluoride absorption. It also helps prevent kidney stone formation when your food is dry on a daily basis.
In a healthy diet, tamarind is not necessary and does not give any additional benefits. On the other hand, it only causes more harm than good, leading to that well-known feeling of acidity after eating that puliyogre and sambar rice. The good news is, you can make amazing sambar by using any other sour food – tomato, amla (nellikkai / gooseberry), kokum (punarpuli / garcinia), raw mango, dry mango powder, or even lemon juice! In this recipe, we have used tomato. To really get the flavour out, we have ground up the tomatoes into a paste.
Oil-based tadka / oggarane was used in places and times when fresh nuts weren’t easily available. Fresh oil inside fresh nuts is best quality oil. Extracted oil is lower quality. We have used fresh coconut instead of the usual tadka. You could use any fresh nuts. If they are dried, soak them before grinding.
We hope you enjoy it! 🙂