A slow cooker, also popularly known as Crock-pot is a counter top electrical cooking appliance, used for cooking food at a low heat set up for a long amount of time. A person using a slow cooker must have some planning as to what goes into it – like some prep work done in the morning before leaving for work, so the meals are cooked by the time you get home in the evening. I’m not a big fan of slow cookers and very rarely use it. I know my pressure cooker can get the same work done in minutes so never really bothered to use it for everyday cooking except for few fancy soups recipes and to keep big batch of gravies warm during parties while my stove is crowded with other things.
The positive side are that these units are safe enough to handle and present no danger of an abrupt pressure release, easy clean up and extremely inexpensive to purchase. It can be a lifesaver for all new cooks, bachelors, working parents and parents with little babies or for all who have trouble using traditional pressure cookers. The biggest fans of all seem to be folks that aren’t big on being in the kitchen and would rather dump a few things in a slow cooker as they head out and come home to find an eatable, but forgettable meal awaiting them with little cleanup.
Here is an attempt by me to make Sambar/ Lentil soup which for an experienced cook will sound very silly as its takes about 10 hours of cooking time but will be very useful recipe for a beginners.
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|Ingredients – 1|
|Toor dal / Split Yellow Pigeon peas||1 cup|
|Turmeric Powder||1/4 teaspoon|
|Ingredients – 2|
|Onion||1 medium size|
|Mixed vegetables (Chopped)||1 carrot+ 3 green beans + 3 drumstick pieces|
|Mustard seeds||1/2 teaspoon|
|Fenugreek seeds||1/4 teaspoon|
|Cumin seeds||1/2 teaspoon|
|Dry Red Chili||2 count|
|Curry leaves||5 count|
|Asafoetida Powder||1/2 teaspoon|
|Red Chili Powder||1 teaspoon|
|Coriander Powder||2 teaspoon|
|Sambar Powder (optional)||1 teaspoon|
|Salt||1+ 1/2 teaspoon|
|Tamarind juice||2 teaspoon|
|Coriander Leaves||5 stalks for garnishing|
Its takes about 8 hours for Toor dal (with no pre-soaking) to cook in crock-pot in high setting. The dal doesn’t turn 100% mushy but turns out real soft in consistency. Here are few options for you
1. If you plan to make sambar for morning breakfast then start this dal cooking process(dal + turmeric powder) the night before and let it cook overnight. The next day just add tadka/ tempering with little (sambar onions + Sambar powder) and finish with some cilantro garnish. (No extra veggies)
2. If you plan for dinner then, start the process in the morning and let it cook of r 8 hours. In the evening when you get back from work , your dal should be ready, just add (tempering +veggies+ Spice powders) and simmer on high for 1-2 hours and you will be all set by dinner time.
Add the Toor dal and water with turmeric powder to the slow cooker pot.
I’ve added 5 cups of water for 1 cup of Toor dal.
Put the heavy glass lid on and make sure not to lock the lid. (The lid lock is only for transporting the content to avoid spills and not intended for cooking process)
Set the temperature to high. Now get back to your work and forget this for the next 8 hours.
After 8 hours of cooking the dal consistency look like this. The dal will be cooked fully but not mushy enough. So if you prefer mushy style then use a flat laddle to mash.
Now for the tempering part and adding veggies: There are two reasons for not adding the veggies in the beginning.
1. I don’t want the veggies to cook for more time as it might over cook and loose all its nutrients
2. I want my dal to be mushy before I add the veggies.
If both these reasons doesn’t bother you then add everything together and proceed.
Heat oil and ghee in a pan and add mustard, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, dry red chili and curry leaves. Sprinkle asafoetida powder followed by sliced onion, tomato and veggies. Saute for few minutes and add it to the cooked dal.
Add red chili powder + coriander powder
Add salt and tamarind juice.
Add sambar powder – this step is optional.
Close it with the lid and cook for another 2 hours.
Finally garnish with coriander leaves.
Your crockpot/ Slow cooker sambar is ready to be served.
Yield: 4 cups of sambar serves 4 adults.
Making sambar is pressure cooker is much easier but this recipe is for busy working people and for those who don’t have a traditional pressure cooker.
Adding veggies is optional, just make plain dal and temper with some seasonings.