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Dassana Amit from Veg Recipes of India

While strolling around the web I come across many different food related websites.  I stumble, I discover and I share what ever catches my interest.  Time itself seems to just fade away when I sit there in my little online world and it’s ok, especially when I find myself lucky enough to find a page that intrigues me.  Almost a year ago I came across Dassana Amit’s wonderful, neat Vegetarian and Vegan Food empire, Veg Recipes of India.

The web boasts a massive amount of Indian Food bloggers (considering the Indian population, it makes sense) and I see a lot of Vegetarian, Egg free, special regional Indian Food Blogs every month, yet I was hooked on Dassana’s blog with her various healthy comprehensive and even innovative recipes and of course not to forget her magical photos.  I just couldn’t stop myself visiting her blog secretly. I was quite shy in a way when I first found her blog and only when I discovered that Dassana lived in Goa, did I decide to send her a little email.  Little did I know how sweet the lady was, and so very helpful and humble.

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Dassana sees herself as a simple person who takes pleasure in small things in life.  After getting to know her over the last several months, I can say that her blog reflects her soul and persona.  She enjoys gardening, meditating, cooking, reading cooking books, developing recipes and she even just takes some time in her life to sit and listen to the chirping of birds.  Dassana is the embodiment of peace on earth and I believe that this can be experienced in each of her dishes that she makes and shares on her blog.

Veg recipes of India boasts a great many Vegetarian as well as Vegan food dishes all written in English.  She enjoys healthy balanced dishes and she believes that Vegetarian/Vegan foods can be  easily combined with various food groups such as carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and so on.  I am a person who values different type of seasonings and therefore I needed to know which spices or herbs she couldn’t live without.  I am not completely surprised, because what would an Indian chef do without the indispensable Ginger root, Turmeric roots or powder and fresh but typical Indian Coriander leaves? We are totally on the same wavelength here!

idli-with-idli-rava

I always wanted to ask her how she got around to start up a food blog! As I suspected, we have to thank her husband for having motivated our dear Dassana to press the publish button the first time. Dassana’s family loves her cooking and so they literally pressured her to share her precious cooking talent with the world.  She was reluctant at first but soon found out that she enjoyed the documentation of her family recipes.  In Dassana’s own words:

“It was a Godsend Idea to work on my recipe blog and there is no looking back after that!”

Dassana’s rich audience will know that she has a professional background in cooking.  She was trained in Food Science, Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Technology and on top of that she has studied all the aspects of cooking and baking.  You are wrong if you think Dassana’s knowledge is limited to just Indian cuisine, in fact the veg chef behind the popular blog studied the rich as well as complex Western cuisine. Dassana confessed…

“I did have professional training to make that perfect black forest cake, make the vanilla pudding at the right consistency and even make a smooth and beautiful fondant layer for a cake.  However, I started cooking much before I learned the professional way.  My first recipe at the age of 10, was a Sindhi Dal curry which was adapted from a cookbook.  I am equally comfortable with Indian as well as Continental food.  In fact, I am too fond of European & Mediterranean Cuisine.  So, when I make any of these at home, I have to eat them all alone.  My family has a strong Indian taste and my folks don’t like to venture in other cuisines.”

eggless-apple-upside-down-cake

Dassana’s ever evolving blogger soul learned the art of photography, writing and SEO over time.  She admits though that she isn’t the best at marketing her content, yet she believes that if the recipe is presented well and loved by the readers, they will share it on their preferred social networking sites.  In my opinion that is exactly what I love in Dassanas way of handling her blog.  Full of self confidence and faith in her work, she launched herself to one of the top visited food blogs in India (over 200.000 Visitors p/m).

I asked Dassana, which recipe from her blog she would recommend a newbie cook to start with and why. S he explained that many of her recipes are easy to prepare, however she would suggest for starters to try the Tandoori Cauliflower, as it follows a simple preparation method and one doesn’t require cooking skills or experience to get it all together right.  Further of course it tastes great (I confirm it).

Before interviewing her I wondered what recipe she would present us here today and once she told me that she wanted to share her favorite childhood dish, Kerala Sambar, I was thrilled.  This typically South Indian dish is a must for all foodies out there!

kerala-sambar-recipe

Dassana revealed that when she used to come home from her office work, her mother would sometimes prepare sambar with rice and kerala pappadums.  This is her comfort food which she grew up with and which she has always relished and cherished!  Kerala Sambar is much enjoyed all over India and even abroad since it is a complex flavored dish full of surprises and depths of flavor.  A local from Kerala would never so openly share such a family treasured recipe.  In general folks here value their traditional foods immensely since lots of effort was invested to perfect the dish over many generations.  I imagine too that a Kerala Sambar served outside of India in establishments might never come close to the original. In fact Dassana’s Kerala Sambar recipe will be the only one that you will ever need.  Dassana’s recipes are always spot on and flavorful balanced and they make our lives more exciting.

4.1 from 7 reviews
Kerala Sambar
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A richly spiced, tangy but balanced Vegetarian Curry dish from Kerala, South India
Author:
Recipe type: Main Veg
Cuisine: South Indian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
For the Sambar:
  • 1½ or 1¾ cups of tuvar dal (arhar dal/yellow lentil)
  • 1 small onion, sliced or chopped
  • a pinch or two of asafoetida (hing)
  • 10-12 shallots
  • 8-10 okra
  • 5-7 aubergines (brinjal)
  • 1 large tomato or 2 medium size tomatoes
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¾ cup tamarind pulp – made with ¾ cup water and 1 lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • salt
  • water
For the tempering/tadka/chaunk/vaghar/phodni:
  • 1 to 2 tbsp coconut oil or any vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal (black lentil)
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2-3 dry red chillies (I used small red bor chillies for the tadka)
  • For the Sambar Masala:
  • ½ coconut, grated – will yield about 1 to 1½ cups of coconut
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped
  • 5-7 garlic flakes, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 12-15 curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp black peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 3-4 dry red chilies ( I used 2 kashmiri and 2 guntur red chillies)
  • 2 to 3 tsp coconut oil or any vegetable oil
Instructions
To make the sambar masala:
  1. On a skillet, tava or a shallow frying pan, heat up 2 or 3 tsp oil.
  2. Add all the onions and fry till they become light brown.
  3. Now add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute.
  4. Add the rest of the spice and fry till they are light brown.
  5. Now add the grated coconut and roast it with the rest of the spices till everything is browned and you get a fragrant aroma in your kitchen. Let this mixture cool.
  6. Once, cooled, grind this roasted spice mixture in the grinder with some water. This is how the sambar masala paste will look like.
To make the sambar:
  1. First, boil the tuvar dal till in a pressure cooker with the sliced or chopped onion and hing, till the dal is soft and well cooked.
  2. Mash the cooked dal slightly with a spoon when done.
  3. Chop all your vegetables.
  4. Add all the vegetables except for the okras (bhindi) to the cooked tuvar dal along with turmeric powder and some water.
  5. Give a nice stir to the entire mixture.
  6. Cook the dal with the vegetables until they are half cooked. This takes about 11-12 minutes.
  7. Now add the chopped okra, tamarind pulp, and the ground masala. Add some more water if the sambar has become thick.
  8. Add salt and give the sambar a rolling boil once and then simmer till the veggies are cooked. This will approximately take about 15-16 minutes.
  9. Close the flame when all the ingredients in the sambar have nicely infused with one another and you have a lovely sambar aroma pervading all around in your kitchen.
  10. Keep the sambar closed with a lid and move on to the next step of tempering the sambar. Ignore the frothy layer on top of the sambar. When you add the tempering all that disappears.
  11. In a pan or the tadka utensil, heat oil.
  12. Add the mustard seeds and let them pop.
  13. Then add all the other ingredients and fry them till they become fragrant. Take care they do not get burnt. Please also ignore the black spots on the tempering utensil. How much I try, I simply cannot get rid of them.
  14. Once the tadka is ready, directly pour the hot tadka on the hot sambar.
  15. Immediately, cover the sambar with a lid and let it stay closed for some 5 minutes. We do this at home, so that the flavors and aroma of the tadka gets very well infused with the sambar or dal.
Serving the Sambar:
  1. Give the sambar a standing time of 2-3 hrs. The sambar tastes good when kept for some hours after making it.
  2. The taste of a freshly prepared sambar is different than the taste of a sambar which has been made a few hours ago.
  3. Serve the sambar with boiled rice and pappadums, accompanied by a side vegetable dish and a bowl of yogurt or raita. Enjoy
  4. If there is any leftover sambar, you could have it the next day with dosa, idli, medu vada or dal vada. But keep the leftover sambar in the fridge.

Apart from the regular posting at Veg recipe of India, Dassana is currently working on new Vegan and Eggless cake and bread recipes. She further revealed that an ebook may happen in the future, let’s keep our fingers crossed!

To keep in touch with Dassana and her blog, connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. She will be happy to make new friends and if you have any cooking related questions then don’t hesitate to ask her. She is a pro in her field!

Helene
Helene is the author behind MasalaHerb.com and shares FoodWriterFriday with Maureen from OrgasmicChef.com. She is originally Austrian/French but moved in her very early twenties to the beautiful coastline state Goa, India. She loves to discover new exotic ingredients and she enjoys developing Indian/European fusion dishes and of course you will find her also cooking traditional Austrian, French and Goan dishes.
Helene
Helene

Latest posts by Helene (see all)

Helene

Helene is the author behind MasalaHerb.com and shares FoodWriterFriday with Maureen from OrgasmicChef.com. She is originally Austrian/French but moved in her very early twenties to the beautiful coastline state Goa, India. She loves to discover new exotic ingredients and she enjoys developing Indian/European fusion dishes and of course you will find her also cooking traditional Austrian, French and Goan dishes.

34 Comments

  1. Wow, what an interesting food blog. I looked at that recipe and thought it looked SO complicated but incredibly intriguing. Just trying to sort out the ingredients made my head swell. 🙂 Lovely post, Helene and Dassana, lovely to meet you!

  2. I’m so thankful you brought back Food Writer Fridays, Maureen and Helene. The best part of blogging (as far as I’m concerned) is “meeting” other people — reading their stories, learning what they love in life, what they love to cook and why. Thanks for joining forces!

    Dassana, I love that you take time to listen to birds — our latest Spring arrivals are chirping away as I type this. Your peacefulness is reflected in your photography and your love of food and family is showcased in your recipe. Wonderful to “meet” you!

    • Hi Kim! So glad that you see it the same way. The fun in food blogging is getting to know the people behind the food blogs and to connect with like minded folks. Thanks for passing by and have a nice weekend! =)

    • You’re really kind, Kim and I couldn’t agree more with what you said about Dassana. I love learning about food writers from other cultures and how their lives might be different but our time in the kitchen is pretty much the same.

    • I totally agree here when you say ‘your peacefulness is reflected in your photography’ I felt exactly the same when I chanced upon her blog and her stunning pictures. There is a certain calmness in those, which I do not find elsewhere. Whenever I come across food photography be it on pinterest or other websites, I can immediately recognize that it is from Dassana! At first I only knew her as the person behind the blog. However, once I heard from her in response to one of my queries (which I was least expecting!), I became a fan:)
      This was a lovely piece of writing about a lovely , talented person. Thanks Helene.

    • I think it’s wonderful to hear from other food writers who cook food much different from what’s on my daily table.

  3. Great to meet Dassana! Terrific blog, and wonderful interview. I love any and all Indian food, and cook it often (though I’m far, far from proficient). I have some tuvar dal in my pantry, so I know what I should be making very soon. 😉 Really nice post – thanks so much.

  4. I’ve always been a huge fan of Indian food, ever since I was a student and it was through spicy curries that my husband-to-be was lured in…. 😉 Although that was in these days… Sambar Masala? Crikey – I have to make this and perhaps hubby could marry me again. Dassana, thanks for passing on your expertise. Each photo is also so enticing. Good to meet you here!

  5. I will definitely check out her blog and I love reading about what others remember as comfort food!

  6. Lovely post Helene, I am surprised how aptly you have written about Dassana and it’s so very true. I have known her from almost 2 years now and she is gem of a person…clearly shows in her thoughts, approach towards life and not to miss her wonderful cooking :)! I am so happy to read about her in your space …

  7. Thank you so much.

    The Recipes were really good, and my Son loved it.

    Waiting for more Delicious Recipes to follow.

  8. Awesome Awesome Awesome..

    Excellent content, recipes, photos and information. I will try to make some interesting recipes from this post.

    Indian recipes always good for health and taste.

  9. Hi Dassana
    Superb recipes, picture, detailed explanation. I love the way you look and cook!!

  10. Hi Helene,

    Thanks for sharing the interview with us. I see that this page is returning a strange error at the bottom of the page – probably ‘my_widgetized_footer’ on /disk1/webs/foodwriterfriday.com/www/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 406 is not working properly.

    Hope you fix it soon.

    -Jaishree

  11. Hi Dassana,

    Your recipes are great and very good. I am trying out your recipes everyday and they turn out to be so delicious and my entire family enjoys them. Excellent photos and delicious recipes.

  12. loved your blog n this recipe too, very helpful for people who want variety in breakfast, kudos keep the good work going on

  13. Hi I made bread caramel pudding today it came out well but as I added a little water to sugar fr caramellizing it did nt wrk then I caramalized it wthout any water it came out good

  14. hello mam,

    i just love all your recipes , so simple with step by step photographs, i made malai paneer & tandoor roti on stove top …..It’s just amazing ,& mouthwatering too,my entire family enjoys them, Excellent!!! i want your recipe book madam .

  15. Hi dassanaji,
    Thank you so much for your recipes. Today I tried paneer at home.and its become so soft n tasty.thanks once again.n god bless you.

  16. Hello dassana madam… my wife is a big fan of urs.. she cooks her meal though whatever she cooks she firstly open ur site nd thn only proceed… i dnt knw whether its her way of having motivational support or the love for u. We tried making some of the fabulous receipes nd by the grace of god all came out excellent. God bless u.

  17. Dear Dassana
    was amazed by your puri recipe…
    I will be trying it tomorrow..

    does it work the same way if i use a machine for pressing and cutting..

    I have a machine with cutters… The left over dough needs to be reused..
    The puris come soft when i reuse them

    what can i do ?

    Regards

  18. Thank u so much dassana for lovely dish my family told me it’s very nice this is not possible without u once again thank u.

  19. Hi Dassana,
    Ever since I came across your website, which was yesterday, I could not stop reviewing your recipes. The step by step description and photography makes it easy to understand expected result at each step. I became your fan instantly. I have already cooked one dish and can not wait to try others. Cooking is my hobby. Before internet days, I used the paper books for 35 years to cook Indian, Mexican, Italian, Chinese and Thai dishes.

    Congratulations and keep up with good work!

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