Kosambari is a cucumber-carrot-moong dhal salad that is popular in South India, especially in Karnataka. It is an integral part of wedding menus and is also offered as ‘Prasadham’ or Holy food in some temples. It is known by the same name in Telugu and as Kosumalli in Tamil. The salad does not involve cooking but demands prepreparation ahead of time. The moong dhal (greengram dhal) used is not cooked but soaked in water for atleast a couple of hours to soften it. So prior planning is important for the success of the final dish. Glance through the directions to prepare Kosambari and give it a try.
Directions to prepare Kosambari:
- 4 Cucumbers (medium-size)
- ½ Carrot
- 2-3 tbsp Moong dhal soaked in water for atleast 2 hrs
- 1-2 tbsp Lime juice
- Few Coriander leaves, finely chopped
- Salt to taste
For the Tempering:
- 1 tsp Mustard seed
- 1 Slit Green Chili
- A pinch of Asafoetida
- Few Curry leaves
- 2 tsp Cooking oil
- Peel skin and grate cucumbers using grater mould with bigger holes.
- Repeat the same with the carrot.
- Gently squeeze cucumber gratings to remove the juice.
- Thoroughly drain water from the moong dhal and spread it in a salad bowl.
- Add cucumber gratings over it, then the carrot and finely chopped coriander leaves.
- Drizzle lime juice over the contents of the bowl.
- Now add the tempering.
Procedure for tempering:
- Heat oil.
- Add mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
- Add asafoetida and green chili.
- Turn off the flame and then add curry leaves.
- Transfer the tempering to the salad bowl.
Do not mix or add salt until service time. Do these just before serving to prevent the salad from becoming runny.
- Soak the moong dhal in hot water to accelerate the softening process.
- Always keep the quantity of carrots lesser than cucumbers because they contribute to a larger volume and their taste may be overpowering.
- Crunchy varieties of cucumber that do not exude much water on grating are preferable (like the ones available in Salem, Tamil Nadu).
- Gratings of all vegetables are recommended to obtain harmony of shape, size and texture. However, if you loathe the idea of losing cucumber juice by squeezing the gratings, just dice the cucumbers and use.
- If using diced cucumber instead of gratings, try this trick to soften the moong dhal. Do not soak the dhal in water. But spread them in the salad bowl, place the cucumber dices on them and set aside for a couple of hours. Allow the cucumber juice to soften the dhal.
Kosambari uses a beautiful interplay of colours, textures and flavours to produce a tasty salad. It is a healthy dish that not only offers micronutrients but also contributes protein from the dhal. It can be served as a snack or as a side dish to any of the three courses of South Indian meal. Though the recipe here uses a cucumber-carrot-dhal combo, pairing the dhal either with only cucumber or only carrot or only shredded cabbage are other possibilities. Unripe mango gratings (with the skin) can also complement this salad. But an ultimate way to take this salad to the next level is to add mango ginger (a rhizome that looks like ginger but tastes like unripe mango) gratings to it. It bursts with flavour in the mouth and enhances the taste. So, quick! Make this salad a part of your routine menu.
Links to Other Salads: