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Masala Dosa Series Part III: Chutney and Sambhar Condiments

September 28, 2010

Today is the last day of the Masala Dosa series and we’re going to make the traditional condiments. In India, you always get some type of chutney (usually with cilantro, mint, chile, and coconut) and then sambhar (which is like a brothy lentil soup). It’s never one or the other, it’s always both. So that’s what you’ll get.

If you need to catch up on the series, here’s a link to part one where we made the dosa batter, and part two where we made the potato filling.

First, I’ll show you the recipe for the chutney. Chutney in India is usually a spicy condiment with a foundation in herbs. Although a lot of trendy restaurants have started calling all reductions of fruit and some spices a chutney, this characterization is misleading in the context of dosa. Think of this chutney as being similar to the “green sauce” you have with your samosas instead of that overly sweet mango variety you may get elsewhere. The chutney is incredibly versatile. This is a great sauce for say some grilled fish and an excellent marinade for chicken. It also goes well with any type of fritter, tempura, fritto misto that you like to prepare.

Green Chutney

(recipe courtesy Lata Surti, aka Mom)

1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)

1/2 cup daria (split chick peas)

1 tsp grated ginger

2 tsp chopped green chile

3/4 cup cilantro, packed

1/4 cup mint leaves, packed

1 stem of curry leaves

1 tsp salt

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1/2 cup yogurt

2 T ghee

1 tsp black mustard seeds

Get your blender out and put in the coconut, daria, ginger, and green chiles. Pour just enough water in the blender to get everything to puree. Add the cilantro, mint, curry leaves, salt, and lime juice to the blender and puree until smooth.

Put the puree into a bowl and whisk in the 1/2 cup of yogurt. Re-season the chutney with salt.

The last step is fairly dramatic. Heat the ghee (clarified butter) in a small pan until hot. Add the mustard seeds and cook for a minute until they are very aromatic. Pour this mixture (called tarka) over the chutney. Do not mix because you want to leave this hot tempered mixture on top.

Next up is the sambhar. Sambhar is like a lentil soup and it is incredibly flavorful. While it is the classic accompaniment to dosa, you could serve it as a soup and it’s amazing served simply over rice.  If you have little bits of leftover veggies, this sambhar is a great way to use them all up.


(recipe courtesy Lata Surti, aka Mom)

1 cup toor dal, cooked (simply boil in water for about 30-45 minutes, until tender)

1 carrot, shredded

1 zucchini, shredded

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

5-6 dried red chiles

1 stem curry leaves

3 sprigs cilantro

Juice of a lime

2 T MTR sambhar masala (buy from Indian store)

Kosher salt

Get a pot over medium heat and add 1.5 cups of water. Add the carrot, zucchini, onion, garlic, chiles, curry leaves, and cilantro. Bring to a boil and lower to simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Put your cooked lentils in a blender and blend with a little bit of water until pureed. Add the lentil puree to the pot.

Taste it and season with salt. Add the juice of a lime and lastly add the sambhar masala. Cook for about 5 more minutes and you’re good to go.

*NOTE: Sometimes, instead of the lime juice, people add tamarind. You are more than welcome to do so, you want to add about 1 tablespoon of fresh tamarind to give a great sour note to the sambhar.

*NOTE: If you are having trouble finding these ingredients (because they are not likely in the grocery store), go to one of the good Indian grocers in town and they will be more than happy to help. Here are the two that we frequent most often:

Apna Bazaar

3808 Nolensville Pike
Nashville, TN 37211-3402
(615) 333-0028

Patel Brothers

4043 Nolensville Pike # B
Nashville, TN 37211-4549
(615) 833-1555

Well, there you have it. You can now make your own dosa feast! At the very least, you can try all these dishes on their own to add some Indian flair to your kitchen. I think you’ll enjoy these new and exciting flavors.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. kumar permalink
    November 29, 2010 11:26 PM

    I tried the Masala Dosa ….. all 3 parts…
    It is the best Dosa I ever made.
    Thanks a lot !

    • November 29, 2010 11:54 PM

      Thanks Kumar! Glad you enjoyed the recipe. Will have many more Indian recipes coming soon!

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