I have a yearning for curry and lentils.

I absolutely adore lentils and I quite like curry too so this is a perfect combination for me. They are a great source of dietary fibre and are packed with proteins but that aside I just love them. Love, love, love.

Red lentils

First up is to make a Sambar powder by dry roasting the following spices separately in a      suitable pan:

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
5 dried red chillies
1 tablespoon chana dal
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin

and when they have cooled grind them in a pestle and mortar or your whizzer. It will keep in an airtight container for around one month so make a smaller batch if you don’t intend to make sambar a few times over the coming weeks.

Now for the Sambar itself:

6 Chicken drumsticks or thighs
One fistful red lentils
1 Onion, diced
1 Tomato, grated
2 or 3 cherry tomatoes, halved
Fresh red chilli, slit
Tamarind, small knob soaked in warm water
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons sambar powder
Small bunch coriander stalks, chopped
Oil or ghee
Water or chicken stock

Lightly sauté the chicken in a pan with the oil/ghee over medium heat to start the cooking process then set aside.

Add the onion and turn the heat down a little.

Meanwhile, soak and rinse the lentils.

When the onions are turning translucent throw the chicken back in and give everything a good stir. Add the turmeric; sambar powders and chilli stirring again… add grated tomato and the cherry tomatoes then a small amount of water/stock so that you have a gravy base. Mash up the tamarind in a paste and add that. Now add the lentils making sure they are all covered in liquid, add the coriander stalks too.

Put a lid on the pan and let it simmer for 30 minutes. If things start to dry out just add a little more liquid.

Test that the meat is cooked through then rest whilst you make a temper.

In a separate pan add some oil or ghee then ½ teaspoon mustard seeds, sliced onions, 2 or 3 dried red chillies, a few curry leaves and a pinch Asafoetida. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes before mixing it into the sambar.

Season to taste.

This goes well with Saag Aloo (spinach and potato curry) but I used fresh Collards instead of spinach as my neighbour gave me a bunch that is the size of Wales.

Chicken Sambar