Traditional Lunch Series - Day 1 ( Vengaya sambar, Vendakkai curry, Potato Roast )

For the next few days - we are going to be having traditional Tambram food for lunch. When it's just me, I usually make one-pot meals which have a fair balance of carbs, proteins and loads of vegetables. Now that I have company for the next couple of weeks, proper lunch it is!

I'm just doing this for fun to chronicle how many such traditional (read non-fusion) recipes I can cook :) Anyway it is also a great way to share authentic (almost) recipes from my heritage with anyone who may be interested.

All items are accompanied by rice / broken wheat and with lots of yogurt to end the meal and serve 3-4 people

Day One - Sunday

  • Vengaya Sambar
  • Potato Roast
  • Vendakai Curry
  • Special add on: Fried vadam

Recipe for Vengaya Sambar (Onion sambar)

3/4 cup tur dal (pressure cooked with pinch of hing and mashed)
5 medium sized onions, peeled & quartered
2 tsp oil
fat pinch asafoetida
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 dried red chilli broken
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp ready tamarind paste or 1 large lemon sized ball soaked in water and extracted
3 tsp sambar powder
1 tsp salt or to taste


1. In a heavy pan, heat the oil. Temper with asafoetida, fenugreek, mustard, curry leaves, dried chilli and saute for a few seconds.
2. Add the quartered onions, turmeric, pinch of salt, saute on medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add a glass of water, cover and cook till onions are soft.
4. In a bowl, make a slurry with sambar powder, tamarind paste and 1/2 cup water.
5. Add this slurry to the softened onions, bring to a simmer.
6. Next add the mashed dal, salt, bring to a simmer.
7. Check for salt and sourness, adjust and bring to a simmer again.

Remove from flame and keep covered until ready to serve with rice.

This tastes better after 1-2 hours of making it, as the flavours improve with time.
You can use chinna vengayam (Madras onions / Shallots) instead of regular onions.
I will share with you the recipe for homemade sambar powder in a later post, you can use MTR sambar powder instead.

Recipe for Potato Roast

5 medium potoes, boiled, skinned and cubed
2 tbsp oil

For the dry marinade:
1 tbsp fine rice flour
1/4-1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp coriander powder

Tempering ingredients:
fat pinch asafoetida
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp Bengal gram dal (chana dal)
1 tsp udad dal
2 sprigs curry leaves

1 tbsp finely chopped coriander for garnish


1. Sprinkle the ingredients for the dry marinade on the boiled potato cubes, coat using light hands and keep aside for 15 min - half hour.
2. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add all the tempering ingredients, stir around till the dals turn golden.
3. Add the spiced potato cubes, toss well to coat with whole spices. Let the potato brown on a low flame. For this it is necessary that you don't keep tossing them around, keep them on a low flame and turn around after 10 minutes, to brown the other sides.
4. Once ready, garnish with coriander and serve hot.

The udad dal, bengal gram, fennel seeds and curry leaves are not added in a typical Iyer style roast, I have incorporated some Chettinad flavours in this. So you can avoid them to make a simpler roast.

Recipe for Vendakkai Curry (Dry okra / lady's finger / bhindi saute)

A curry in Tamil Brahmin cuisine is a dry sauteed preparation, not involving any gravy. Most 'curries' are prepared in the similar manner using a variety of vegetables.


2 cups thickly sliced okra
(Preparation: Wash okra well, wipe completely dry, top, tail and slice with a dry knife)
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 broken dried red chillies
1 tsp udad dal
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt

In a wok, heat oil. Splutter the mustard seeds, fry the red chillies and saute the udad dal till golden. Add in the sliced okra, tumeric and salt and saute on medium flame off and on for 7-8 minutes till okra is cooked yet lightly crunchy.
Do not cover while cooking.

Serve with rice and rasam / sambar / mor kozhambu.


Anonymous said...

delicious :))
havent made that potato curry for so many years now..:) Today it is thanks for sharing

Sharanya said...

OOps that anon comment was me sharanya

Nandita said...

Enjoy the roast today then Sharanya :)

indosungod said...

Lovely series, these traditional meals are the best. Looking forward to what you are going to cook up. The first day has me hooked.

Happy cook said...

Yumm i am comming over

Aparna said...

This is how lunch usually is here! Having family over, I guess.
Nothing beats traditional fare in the end.

Mallugirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mallugirl said...

nice balance of texture and spice. Traditional food also looks so welcoming. I just had a round of guests so now i am going back to the one pot meals.:)

Sig said...

Lovely series dearie, I love such simple dishes, and this particular meal can actually pass off as a traditional Kerala meal... :)
Have a great time with your guests...

Sumi said...

Yummy! Reminds me of my mom's vengaiya sambar, and urulai curry, the combination which I love the most but next only to my mother. Thanks for sharing, motivated to make vengaiya sambar and urulai roast sometime very soon!

Nandita said...

Thank you for your encouragement, day two coming up next :P

Sneha said...

This series is awesome, I eagerly look forward to more of it. So many simple yet most delicious recipes. Thanks a ton for sharing them!!!! Keep them flowing!

crispus said...

wow! I was searching for filter coffee out of sheer nostlagia..and im pregnant..and hit upon ur blog and one page led to the other and here im nearly drooling over the pics and ur menu combo..i LOV LOV sambar n potato..while in Chennai. now here in houston..somehow it all doesnt taste the same..mebbe its my cooking...anyways im motivated to try making the sambar and each of ur menu combos for the next few days :)) i'm haffy and i will try the coffee..tho sans the M-I-L is coming down and i will ask her to get me this coffee filter that u mentioned.
Ur blogs rocking!
Hav a Super duper day! :)

Pragyan said...

Potato roast looks so tempting! Blogrolling it ..thanks!

Gagan said...

I bought 2 vegetables this week -- cabbage & okra -- to make them for the very first time. I came straight to your blog, hoping that you would have a recipe for these in your vast collection. And luckily I found such simple & delicious recipes in your Traditional Lunch Series for both of the veggies! Thanks a lot for your wonderful recipes!

Your simple, healthy, and yummy collection inspires me to keep improving my cooking! ;)

Aarabi said...

ooh! aathu saapadu!!

curry venumna naane-daan samaikannum indha ooru-le. your blog is a god-sent.

i have a question. for sambar, amma sent me sambar powder she made at home. puli vanginen ingaye. toram parupu vanginen. but im at a loss to know how much thoram parupu to how much puli to how much sambar powder. experiment pannarthe, rendu vaati nanna vandudu. rendu vaati kanna pinna-nu pulichi vazhinjidu.
can you help me? my mom is too busy laughing :D
thanks!! and keep posting!

ps: indha ooru-le enaku vendekaye kedaukale :( :( not even in tins! :D dont move to europe if you love iyer food :D :D

Priyanka said...

Thank you Nandita! Moreover, thanks for adding those pictures as well. Being a complete novice at Tamil cooking your recipes really help and motivate me. The pictures also help assess if i'm going in the right direction or not! If i may say, your blog is what i log onto before leaving i can plan what to cook for dinner! Thanks once again!

Sabera said...

I really like your sambhar recipe. I've been looking for a simple one for a while. I've used the instructions on some of the sambhar powder packets here in the US and haven't liked it at all!

I think I'm gonna try your bhindi recipe tonight :)

Divya Shankar said...

Awesome is the word :)
This used to be my demand from amma when I came down to Chennai for semester hols from college/hostel.

Ramaa Ramesh said...

This recipe is a life saver! :-) Thanks Nandita <3

Foram Shah said...

my mother is allergic to tamarind.. is there an alternative?

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