Serving: 4 Time: 1 hr Difficulty: easy
This is a toovar or arhar ( husked yellow pigeon peas) preparation from the ‘Bhanap’ community of the Saraswat Brahmins of the South West coast of India. Served with steaming hot rice, it is delicious! It is generally made with a green leafy vegetable with thick leaves and stems called Vaal. Since it is not readily available where I live in the US, I usually use regular spinach, which is called Palak in India.
1 cup Toovar dal – cooked in a pressure cooker with 3 cups water, salt and 1/4 tsp of turmeric.
2 large bunch of spinach – washed and cut up into 1 inch shreads.
2 medium onions – chopped
1 cup of freshly grated coconut
8 to 12 fenugreek seeds
2 tsps of tamarind paste
3 – 5 dried red bedgi chillies – roasted in a few drops of oil.
2 tbsps coconut oil.
Stir the cooked toovar dal till it is totally a paste. Add 2 cups of hot water and place this in a large pot. Add salt, spinach and half the onions and let it come to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 15 -20 minutes. In the mean time, grind together the shredded coconut, red chillies, tamarind and fenugreek to a fine paste. Add the ground coconut paste to the simmering spinach dal, stir thoroughly. Meanwhile heat the coconut oil in a small fry pan, add the remaining onions and stir fry till a golden brown. Do not let it burn. Add the golden brown onions to Palak Ambat and serve with rice.
One can also make ‘Ambat’ with a whole lot of combinations of vegetables. The ground coconut paste remains the same for any vegetable combination.The vegetable combinations to make Ambat are – Potatoes and peas: sprouted mung; cauliflower etc; The dal is only used for spinach or any other leafy green.