If somebody asks me for a word that is synonymous to TAMILNADU or let’s put it as SOUTH-INDIA, I’ll scream without even thinking…. “SAAMBAAR” (சாம்பார்). Steamed rice and Sambar is what Spaghetti and Marinara sauce are in Italy. I can blindly bet _‘Show me ONE and take with you ONE Million_’ kinda challenge if you can show me one South-Indian who does not know what Sambar is!
Saambaar (saam as in calm and baar as in bar), the humble stew made with lentils and vegetables, prepared at least once in a week (predominantly on Fridays) in most parts of Tamilnadu, is the first dish my Amma taught me in her kitchen . I do not even remember how old I was then. She chose to teach me the Sambar recipe first because Saambar is the EASIEST and SIMPLEST of ALL the stews (or should I say gravies/sauces) that we make in our kitchen. During my lessons on Sambhar with my Amma, I learnt the types and variations one could make with a Basic Sambar recipe! I was like; ‘why not take a Ph.D in Sambar Science?!’ [He he …ok please, you may smile, it’s a joke. But it would really be nice if I have a name board ‘Dr. Mangala Meenakshi, Ph.D. Sambar Science’ hanging in front of my house door. ….Sssss….. rubbing goose bumps… ] I realized there are so many (read as: Soooooo mannnnyyyyyy) classifications of Sambar that I will need more than a jury to assess my dissertation if I still wished to do a doctorate .