It is a festive season here, we celebrate a plethora of festivals continuously between August & November every year, and every festival is celebrated distinctively in different parts of India. It is quite astonishing to find how the cuisine, culture, and customs vary from one region to other even within South India. Kosambari is a traditional lentil salad popular in South Indian states (particularly in Andhra, Karnataka and some parts of Tamilnadu) offered to deities in this festive season and also served to guests at the wedding parties & other functions.
But sundal, another kind of traditional lentil salad, is preferred over kosambari during most of the festivals in our family. Nevertheless we had plenty of opportunities to relish kosambari during my childhood days at my friend’s house. My friend’s grandmother was a kind but a stern woman performing all religious rituals in a finicky manner, she was so particular to offer kosambari to deities on every auspicious day in this season including Navarathri, and distributed it to all the kids in our neighborhood in thonnai (the eco-friendly use & throw bowls made of large leaves).
Kosambari became one of the most favorite salads not only to me but also to my brothers, albeit not favoured by the elders in our family. Kosambari is usually prepared using soaked lentils, but my grandparents preferred the sundal made using cooked lentils. It was liked by us mainly due to the delicious texture obtained by adding equal measures of grated coconut & lentils. Besides, the flavor of this salad is enhanced by adding grated carrot & unripe mango and finely chopped cucumber & capsicum.
Since kosambari is a healthy salad with little or no carbs & fats and also a hearty salad that can be taken either as a meal or as a mid-morning/ evening snack, it is beneficial to people who are on weight loss diet. So some like to add soaked chickpeas (kadalai paruppu) or sprouted beans (mulaikattiya payaru) instead of moong dal, and also add juicy pomegranate arils, sweet beetroot, pungent radish, papery lettuce, crunchy baby corn, steamed red cabbage, etc. that aid in weight loss. Nonetheless I don’t prefer to add these ingredients in here as I feel they would alter the authentic flavor in it.
Now I have posted the recipe for traditional kosambari, though the recipe is too simple, we need to add all the necessary ingredients at appropriate proportions to make this dish delicious. Hence I recommend not to omit any of the ingredients listed below, even the nicely crackled mustard seeds also enhance the flavor.
Since I prefer to add the ingredients according to the desired texture and flavor, I don’t mention here the quantity of all the ingredients.
- Split green gram (paasi paruppu) – soaked for 2 hours and drained completely
- Grated coconut
- Finely minced ginger
- Finely chopped green chillies
- Finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
- Lemon juice
- A teaspoon of coconut oil/ sesame oil
- A teaspoon of mustard seeds
- A few sprigs of curry leaves
- A generous pinch of asafoetida powder
- Grated carrot (almost equal amounts of lentils)
- Grated unripe mango (as needed)
- Finely chopped cucumber (equal amounts of lentils)
- A small amount of finely chopped capsicum (green, red, and/or yellow)
First we need to prepare the tempering, mix all the ingredients together and serve kosambari immediately. We can enjoy the delicious Kosambari even without adding the optional ingredients mentioned above. I like to add coconut and the vegetables (except capsicum) generously, and I found that too many/little mustard seeds would also affect the flavour.
Tips & Tweaks:
- It is very important that the lentils to be soaked for 2 hours, else we could notice the raw smell of lentils.
- Some may like to add chopped onion & tomato into this salad, but I feel they don’t go well with coconut.
- I don’t prefer to add cooked ingredients like sweetcorn, cabbage, peas, peanuts, etc. into this salad as it would turn out to be a mixture of sundal & kosambari.
- We can simply make this salad with one or two vegetables and serve as carrot kosambari, cucumber kosambari or carrot-cucumber kosambari.