Coimbatore Annapoorna Hotel Style Sambar Recipe

Somebody has successfully reverse-engineered the recipe for the world-reknowed sambar served at the Annapoorna Hotel in Coimbatore. Here’s the story, link to videos and recipe summary follows.

I get at least a couple of mails a month asking for Annapoorna sambar recipe as I am from Coimbatore. Everyone in Coimbatore loves the food from this iconic Annapoorna hotel. I am no different. Their Sambar is one of the best. I had tried different recipes but could not nail it. Then this happened. I was talking about my sambar quest to Prema akka (Vinodhs aunt) and she told she knows someone who can give us the recipe. She told me that one Mr. Palinisamy had worked as a cook in their house in the 80’s before moving to Annapoorna as a chef. She told me that she will definitely get hold of him for me. And she did. I met him at a function recently where he was in charge of the kitchen. Mr. Palanisamy is a dhoti clad chef with prominent brown eyes and a big mustache. His eyes are very unique. You will never forget him once you have met him. As soon as I met him, we started talking. He told that he started cooking at the age of 12. He worked at the hotel for 27 years. He now runs his own food and catering service at Coimbatore. His food rocks. If you are in Coimbatore and have a party at home, try Mr. Palanisamy’s food. You can contact Mr. Palanisamy, Sai Baba catering. His phone number 96984 88764. Another number 9344680106 . His food is as good as home cooked food. If you are having a party in Coimbatore, this is the number you need to be calling.

Pretty cool. Go here for the instructional videos, and here’s the summary.

COIMBATORE ANNAPOORNA HOTEL SAMBAR RECIPE

PREP TIME
COOK TIME
TOTAL TIME
Recipe for Coimbatore Hotel Annapoorna Sambar. Recipe as told by a cook who worked in the hotel for 27 years.
Author: Kannamma – Suguna Vinodh
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: South Indian, Tamilnadu
Serves: 4
INGREDIENTS
Measurments Used – 1 Cup = 250 ml
For Dal
  • ½ cup Toor Dal
  • 2 Cups Water
For Veggies
  • 2 Drumsticks
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 10 shallots (small onions), diced
  • 1 Tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup water
For Sambar Masala
  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil (gingely oil)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 5 black pepper corn
  • 5 fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tablespoon chana dal
  • 1 tablespoon urad dal
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 3 dry red chillies (gundu variety)
  • ¼ teaspoon Asafoetida (hing)
  • 3 tablespoon coconut
  • 1½ teaspoon jaggery
  • gooseberry size tamarind
Other ingredients
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 stalks coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
For Tempering
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (gingely oil)
  • ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
INSTRUCTIONS
For Dal

Wash and soak ½ a cup of toor dal in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Pressure cook the dal with the water for 6 whistles. Remove from heat and wait for the pressure in the cooker to release naturally. Set aside.

For Veggies
In another cooker add in the drumsticks, diced onion, diced shallots (small onion) and tomatoes. Add one cup of water, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of turmeric. Cook for 4 whistles. Remove from heat and wait for the pressure in the cooker to release naturally. Set aside.

For Sambar Masala

  1. Heat oil in a pan and add in the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, pepper, fenugreek seeds, chana dal, urad dal. Fry for a minute. Once the chana dal is brown, add in the curry leaves, dry red chillies, asafoetida, coconut, jaggery and the tamarind. Fry for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
  2. Grind the mixture with half a cup of water to a paste. Let the paste be very slightly coarse. Set aside.

For the Sambar

  1. Take a heavy bottomed pan and add in the ground masala and one cup of water. Let it come to a boil on medium flame.
  2. Once its boiling, add in the cooked vegetables along with the water used for cooking. Add in the salt.
  3. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes on medium flame.
  4. Add in the cooked dal and let it continue to boil for 2-3 minutes.

For Tempering

  1. Heat oil in a kadai and add in the mustard seeds when the oil is hot.
  2. Add in the curry leaves and switch off the flame.
  3. Add in ½ teaspoon of red chilli powder and immediately pour it on the sambar.
  4. The red chilli powder might burn if kept in the oil for too long. So have an eye on the kadai.
  5. Add in the coriander leaves and a tablespoon of ghee. Switch off the flame.

Paper Dosa

This recipe will help you get some thin and crisp paper dosa. It’s quite amazing. The only variation on it I added was to follow the directions that came with my Futura tava about water. They recommend draining the rice/dal mix before grinding and then adding about 2 1/2 cups of water as the grind proceeds. After fermentation, I added another scant 3/4 cup.

Futura also says to raise the heat from medium to medium-high while the first dosa is cooking, but you should do this to every dosa. Be advised that the tava needs to be hot without being too hot. If the tava is too hot, the batter will tear as you try to spread it, and if it is too cold the dosa won’t get crisp.

Hotel and street cooks sprinkle the tava with water and turn the heat down between dosas, and also sprinkle and spread the dosa with oil/ghee after the batter has been spread before turning the heat way up. On an electric cooker, the reaction time is much slower than it is on a gas cooker, so it’s often necessary to flip the dosa to speed up the cooking time.

Mane Adige: Paper Plain Dosa, modified.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Urad Dal
  • 3- 3 & 1/4 cups Rice (a combination of two cups idli rice and one cup parboiled is good)
  • 1/4 cup Chana Dal (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp Methi Seeds
  • 2-3 tbsp Poha, thick
  • 1 tsp Ghee/Butter/Oil for each dosa
  • Salt as per taste (roughly a teaspoon)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder (optional)

Method

  1. Soak the dal, rice, methi seeds and poha with enough water for at least 3-6 hours. Change water three times. Can be soaked in a common vessel.
  2. Grind the soaked ingredients with enough water to a very smooth paste; But keep in mind not to add too much water and make the batter runny.
  3. Cover and allow batter to ferment in a warm place for about 8-12 hours; Make sure the container has enough room for the batter to rise. An oven with a 25 watt trouble light works well.
  4. Add salt (and baking powder if you like) to the fermented batter and mix well.
  5. Place a non stick griddle on medium heat. Test heat with a quarter cup of water, which should bounce before you wipe it off. Once hot, pour a ladle full of batter at the center. With the back of the ladle, spread the batter thinly, starting from the center and working outwards, in a fast circular motion. About 12 -15 revolutions should do it, but the batter must be spread thin to be crisp.

    Note: Spread the batter as soon as you pour it on the griddle – the batter will start getting cooked otherwise and stick to the ladle, if you wait too long. If it tears, go in the reverse direction to fix the tear.

  6. Pour few drops of ghee/oil all over the dosa and also at the edges, spreading with a spatula. Let cook on medium high heat until the thin parts turns dark brown.
  7. If making masala dosa, put a glob of potato curry in the center and fold the dosa over it from two sides.
  8. Remove from griddle and serve immediately with coconut chutney, sambar, kurma, saagu or any other side dish of your choice.

Equipment:

Futura 33 cm non-stick tava; may substitute any large frypan or griddle, but the bigger the tava/griddle, the bigger the dosa.

UltraGrind+ idli grinder; may substitute high-power grinder/blender of Indian origin, an American blender won’t really cut it. The batter needs to be smooth.

Prep Time:

About 15-20 mins for grinding and 2-3 mins for cooking each dosa;

Yield: about 10-12 dosas

Ambode (Indian Chana Falafel)

Chana dal is a form of chickpea that can be used as a substitute for the European chickpea know as garbanzo bean in just about any recipe. Chana has a lower glycemic index than garbanzo, has a more pleasant flavor, and is faster to cook. This recipe is for a Karnataka dish that looks for all the world like a spiced-up falafel.

Ingredients
2 cups chana dal
4 small green chilis
2 dried red chilis
(Optional) 1 cup grated coconut (Fresh or frozen is best. If you use dessicated, hydrate it in a mixture of coconut milk and coconut water first.)
3 tablespoons chopped green cilantro leaf (some people like dill weed instead of or in addition to cilantro.)
1 bunch curry leaves
1 inch ginger piece, grated
1 -2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon hing (asafoetida)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 shallot, chopped fine
2 tablespoons flour
1 – 2 cups canola/peanut oil for frying
Method
  1. Soak the chana dal overnight. Drain.
  2. Heat peanut oil in a deep fryer to 360 F.
  3. Combine all ingredients, except for salt, shallots and flour, and blend in a food processor. The Indian style is to grind lightly, so that many of the chana beans remain intact.
  4. Mix in salt, shallots and flour.
  5. Form ping pong ball sized balls of the mixture, flattening them slightly if you’re frying in shallow oil so they can be flipped while frying. The Indian style to flatten them all the way to a sausage patty shape.
  6. Fry as many as you can at a time without crowding the fryer.
  7. When brown on the bottom (3 minutes,) flip them so they can brown on both sides. Five minutes total frying time should bring you to golden brown.
  8. After cooking, place on a pair of paper towels to soak up the oil. There won’t be much if you oil was hot enough.
  9. Serve them warm in warm pita bread stuffed with lettuce, tomato, tahini, and Mexican salsa. Indians like to eat ambodes with chutney or ketchup. I can’t comment on that.
Ambodes will keep in the fridge for a week or more.

Potato Curry

This is a nice dish to eat over puris.

Ingredients

3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 beet root (optional)
water to cover vegetables
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1 sprig of curry leaf
1/2 cup yogurt (optional)1/3 cup fresh or frozen green peas or chopped beet root (optional)

Directions

  1. Boil potatoes (and beet root, if you’re using it) with turmeric. Boil beet root separately as it takes longer, and lose the beet liquor if you don’t like red potatoes.
  2. When potatoes are soft, add spices and salt.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and pop the mustard seed. When seeds are popped, remove from heat and add curry leaf.
  4. Add fried spices to potato and stir to coat.
  5. (optional) Add the yogurt and peas to the potato mix. Continue cooking until heated through.

Equipment

Frypan, boiling pot.

That’s it, easier than pie.

Idli Podi

In Kerala, idlis are often served with this powder, which is mixed with coconut oil and used for dredging the idli to give it a tangy flavor. At Indian groceries, it’s called “Chutney Powder.”

Ingredients
Chana dal – 1 Cup
Urad dal – 3/4 Cup
Red Chilies – 20
Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
Salt – to taste
Dried curry leaves – few
Garlic – 3 cloves

Method
Heat a heavy bottomed pan and toast the garlic till it turns golden brown. Add curry leaves and remove from the stove. Cool well. Toast all the other ingredients over low heat till they give off aroma. Grind everything to a coarse powder with salt.

Serve a teaspoon sized portion with idli, make a little cavity in the top as you would for mashed potato, and mix in enough coconut or sesame oil to soak through but not run off. Dredge idli in the mix and enjoy.

Puri

Puri is simply a deep-fried chapatti. The flavor comes from the curry with which it’s eaten, typically some form of potato curry.

Ingredients
2 cups Indian whole wheat flour
1/2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
salt to taste

Method
Measure flour in bowl. Slowly add about 3/4 cup warm water, just enough to form a firm dough, and knead till smooth. Cover, let rest at least 1/2 hour, and knead again briefly. If resting more than 1 hour, punch and knead dough again before rolling out.

Divide into small balls about golf-ball size, and roll out into 6″ rounds on an oiled board. Heat vegetable oil in a wok or saucepan. Add a little salt to the oil to keep it from smoking. Fry the puri one at a time, holding them under the oil on the first side until they puff. Turn and fry till light brown; drain.

Serve as soon as possible; these breads are not as good later.

Puri are traditionally served with any or all of the following: Chana, Black-eyed Pea Curry, Spinach Dal, Potato Curry, Brussels Sprouts, and anything with yogurt in it; Potato Curry is the best.

For spicy puris:
When making the dough, add to the dry ingredients pinches of:

turmeric
hot pepper
cumin/coriander powder
hing

Lamb Piralen

Ingredients

Two pounds of cubed leg of lamb, trimmed of fat
Six teaspoons ground coriander, lightly toasted
Half teaspoon ground cumin
Half teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
Half teaspoon ground black pepper
Quarter teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
Half teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground with a mortar and pestle
One and half tablespoons white vinegar
Salt to taste
Two medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
Half cup thinly sliced onion
Five tablespoons vegetable oil
Two teaspoons minced garlic
Two teaspoons minced ginger
Half cup water
Half teaspoons mustard seeds
10 curry or two bay leaves
Quarter cup minced onion

Method

Marinate the lamb in the mixture of ground spices, fennel seeds, and vinegar for at least one hour.

In a saucepan of salted water, parboil cubed potatoes for 12 minutes, set aside.

In a large frying pan over medium- high heat, fry half cup sliced onion in oil until the edges are nicely browned. Add garlic and ginger and stir for two minutes, or until the onion turns medium brown.

Add marinated lamb and stir until the meat is no longer pink. Add salt and half cup water to keep the meat simmering. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the meat is tender and sauce is reduced to a very small amount.

Meanwhile, in a nonstick frying pan, over medium high-heat, fry the potatoes in 2 tablespoons oil until light brown, crusty and cooked through, for about 20 minutes. Add potatoes to lamb. Raise heat to medium-high and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce. Turn heat down to low.

In a small covered frying pan, heat mustard seeds and curry leaves in one tablespoon of oil over medium heat until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add a quarter cup of minced onion and fry until they turn light brown. Pour contents of frying pan over lamb and potatoes, stir well, and remove from heat. Taste for salt.

The whole effort takes about 80 minutes, apart from the marinating time. Serves six.

Source: Source: Curried Favors, Maya Kaimal

Okra Kichadi

Ingredients

Five tablespoons vegetable oil (note: coconut preferred)
1 pound fresh okra, trimmed and cut into thin slices
2 green chilies, split lengthwise
Salt to taste
1 cup grated, unsweetened coconut
Half teaspoon mustard seeds, coarsely ground with a mortar and pestle
Half teaspoon cumin seeds, coarsely ground with a mortar and pestle
15 curry leaves
Water
One cup plain low-fat yogurt
Half-teaspoon mustard seeds
Two dried red peppers
One teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Method

In a wok or large frying pan heat three (note: or four) tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add sliced okra and one green chile and stir-fry until the okra softens and browns around the edges. Stir in salt. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

In a food processor or blender combine coconut, coarsely ground mustard, cumin seeds, one green chile and five curry leaves with just enough water to make a fine paste. (note: if using desiccated coconut, re-constitute it in water or coconut milk for thirty minutes before blending.)

Wipe clean the wok, and combine in it coconut paste, yogurt, half-cup water and little salt. Bring mixture to a simmer — do not allow it to boil — and remove from heat immediately (or else yogurt will separate).

In a small covered frying pan over medium heat, heat mustard seeds, dried red peppers, and 10 curry leaves until the seeds begin to pop. Stir contents of pan into coconut-yogurt mixture.

Stir in fried okra, adding more water if necessary to form a thick but pourable mixture. Stir in lemon juice; taste for salt. Serve at room temperature.

It takes 40 minutes to prepare and serves six to eight people.

Note: Similar method can be used with eggplant or bitter melon instead of okra.

Source: Curried Favors, Maya Kaimal

(also spelled okra kichidi, okra kichedi)

Terms

The following may be useful in translating some of the terms used in the recipes. (note: Malayalam sound designated by letters ‘zh’ is a soft English ‘r’.)

Indian/English Name Malayalam name
tuar dal thuaran parippu 
urad dal uzhunnu parippu 
masoor dal  parippu 
chana dal (bengal gram) kadala parippu 
moong dal  parippu 
hing (asafoetida) kayam 
tamarind puli 
coriander  malli 
cayenne pepper mulaku podi 
methi (fenugreek) uluva 
cilantro leaves  malli ila 
cumin (jeera)  jeerkam 
mustard  kaduku 
okra vendakka 
pumpkin  mathanga 
cucumber  kumbalanga 
like, Totally! Ayyo!
saunf  perumjeerakam 

Erissery

Ingredients
Green bananas or plantains (nenthrakkay) – cubed
turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
chili powder – 1 teaspoon
cummin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
mustard seeds – 1/4 teaspoon
urad dal – 1/4 teaspoon
coconut, grated – 1/2 cup (may substitute des. coconut)
coconut for garnish – 1 tablespoon
black pepper – 1/4 teaspoon
curry leaves – a few
salt to taste
oil – 1 teaspoon

Method
Soak the cut plantains in warm water mixed with half teaspoon turmeric for ten minutes.

Drain and cook the plantains with the remaining turmeric and salt. Grind the coconut well with cumin and add to the cooked plantains. Let it simmer.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and pop the mustard seeds. Add the urad dal and the coconut reserved for garnish and stir till browned. Add this mixture to the eriserry and mix in the curry leaves.

Source: Maya Nair