The Vegetarian

South Asian Mixed Vegetable Curries

Sambar Curry

Hath Maluwa Curry

 Sambar curry

-South India

This is a great dish for improving your intake of a variety of vegetables. It can be eaten with rice, but is best with dishes such as Idli and Dosai (Thosai). It should have a slightly sour flavour, and be full of vegetables.

There are a long list of ingredients for this dish... but as usual... remember that the most important ingredients are listed first. The vegetables in this dish can be varied as long as there are some lentils and a starch containing ingredient such as potato... the other vegetables are up to you. If you don't use the tomato in this dish, you will at least need the tamarind to add some sourness to the flavour.

2 teaspoons of oil for frying.
1/2 cup of red lentils
1 medium sweet potato (or 1 large potato)
1 ripe tomato (+/- 1/2 can of diced tomato)
1 medium eggplant
handful of green beans - trimmed and sliced into 2cm pieces
1 onion - better with shallots or red onion - sliced into thin wedges.
+/-other vegetables of your choice (for example carrot, okra, peas, button mushrooms)
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 tablespoon cummin seeds (or 1/2 tablespoon ground cummin)
1 stick of cinnamon
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
dry red chillies or red chilli flakes - to taste (approx. 1 teaspoon)
5 cloves
1/2 teaspoon of tamarind paste
1-2 sprigs of curry leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds.
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
+/- 1 tablespoon besan flour
+/- 1 tablespoon coconut milk
salt to taste
+/-handful of fresh coriander leaves (or use a couple of teaspoons of ground coriander with the other spices)

Wash the red lentils until the water runs clear (be sure to examine and discard any debris -see "lentil recipes" for further information).

Peel the potato and cut into 1 inch cubes. Chop the eggplant to similar sized pieces. Slice the tomato into thick wedges. Prepare any other vegetables to similar size pieces as these vegetables.

In a large pot use the oil to shallow-fry and brown the onion, cummin, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Add all the other spices, except the tamarind, asafoetida and coriander leaves, and fry for a few seconds before adding the pre-prepared vegetables and lentils- except the tomato. Immediately add water to just cover the vegetables.

Simmer the lentils and vegetables until the lentils and the potatoes are soft, by this point the other vegetables will also be cooked.

Add a 1-2 teaspoons of salt and the chopped tomatoes and +/- the asafoetida. (also add the besan flour first dissolved in a tablespoon of water). Simmer further until the tomatoes begin to break up. Taste test and adjust the salt. If it does not have enough sourness, add the tamarind paste or some more tomato. If it becomes too sour, simmer a little longer. (Chilli and salt will also balance out sourness, but will make the dish stronger in flavour overall)

Finally consider adding some coconut milk and stir in the coriander leaves just as you remove the pot from the heat, and immediately place in a serving dish to avoid further cooking.

Serve and enjoy :-)

Note: To simplify the spices... you can use a commercial "sambar curry powder"... but unless you make the one recipe often, it is not usually worth buying specific curry powder mixes.

The curry in the picture was made with sweet potato, lentils, carrot, eggplant, mushrooms. Peas and green beans were added at the end so they retain their colour without overcooking. I used a half 400g can of diced tomato as well as fresh diced tomato. I did not use any asafoetida, tamarind or coconut milk. The besan flour gives a lovely thickness and shine to the gravy. I tend to use a large quantity of eggplant, because I love eggplant!

Hath Maluwa (Seven Vegetables)

-Sri Lanka

This recipe is supposed to include seven vegetables, however, as usual you can always vary it to your taste, and according to what you have in the pantry.


2 large potatoes (or use sweet potato)
1 medium brown onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 ripe tomato - sliced into small wedges
1 handful of curry leaves
2 cups of other vegetables - e.g. mushrooms, carrot, peas, beans, squash, okra, eggplant (keep green veg such as peas and beans separate from the other vegetables)
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground cummin
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
1 stick of cinnamon (or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder)
2 leaves of rampe (pandan leaf)
2 long green chillies sliced (+/- chilli powder to taste)
1 tablespoon of coconut cream

Peel and chop the potatoes into 1 inch size cubes. Slice the onions into small wedges. Peel and crush the garlic cloves. Wash and prepare the other vegetables so they are similar in size - approximately 1 inch pieces.

Place the potato, onion, garlic, fenugreek, turmeric, cinnamon, cummin and coriander and the other vegetables, except the green vegetables(peas and beans) in a large pot. Bring to the boil, and then simmer until the potatoes soften.

Add the curry leaves, rampe, tomato, green vegetables (peas and beans) and green chilli. Add a teaspoon of salt, stir in and taste test. Add further salt and chilli to taste. Consider adding some more tomato (or tamarind) to balance acidity.

Finally, remove from the heat and stir in the coconut cream.

Eat with rice or bread or roti or stringhoppers :-)

The green vegetables are added towards the end so that they retain some of their colour, and are not overcooked. Taste test before adding the coconut cream - check for sourness, salt and chilli.

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