Vengaya Sambar or Sambar with Madras Onions or Shallots

Vengaya Sambhar or Sambhar with Madras Onions or Shallots
Vengaya Sambhar or Sambhar with Madras Onions or Shallots

Onion Sambhar or Vengaya Sambar is one the most favourite dishes in my family. There is no more a satisfying a Sunday lunch than Rice with Potato Fry, Onion Sambar, and Applam. Of course, we need some Curd Rice and Pal Payasam to make it a whole meal.

Serves: 4

Ingredients for Masala

  1. Grated Coconut or Nariyal – 4 tbsp
  2. Bengal Gram or Chana Dal – 1.5 tbsp
  3. Coriander Seeds or Saboot Dhania – 2 tbsp
  4. Red Chillies or Akha Lal Mirchi – 6 to 8
  5. Asafoetida or Hing – 1/4 tsp
  6. Coconut Oil – 1.5 tbsp

Ingredients for Sambar

  1. Tuvar Dal – 1 Cup
  2. Madras Onions or Shallots – 12 to 16
  3. Tamarind – 1 Lemon Sized Ball
  4. Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  5. Red Chillies – 2
  6. Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  7. Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp
  8. Curry Leaves – A Few
  9. Coriander Leaves – A Few
  10. Salt to Taste

Method to Make the Masala

  1. Heat the coconut oil.
  2. Add the chana dal and fry till it is light brown.
  3. Add the coriander seeds and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the split red chillies and grated coconut.
  5. Over medium heat, stir-fry till the coconut starts to change colour.
  6. Turn off the heat.
  7. Add the asafoetida and mix well.
  8. Set aside to cool.
  9. When the sambar masala mix is cool, grind to a smooth paste with some water.

Method to Make the Sambar

  1. Peel the Madras onions and set aside.
  2. Soak the tamarind in about 1 cup water for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Squeeze the soaked tamarind well to extract the pulp. Discard the tamarind.
  4. Pressure cook the dal with 1.5 cups water for about 3 whistles or till it is mashable consistency.
  5. In a heavy-bottomed vessel, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil.
  6. Add mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
  7. Add the Madras onions and split red chillies.
  8. Shallow fry till the onions start to turn brown.
  9. Add the curry leaves and tamarind juice.
  10. Cover and cook till the onions start to turn transparent and the raw smell of the tamarind juice disappears.
  11. Add the sambar masala and a 1/4 cup water.
  12. Cook covered for 5 minutes till the masala starts to boil.
  13. Add the turmeric and mashed dal.
  14. Add some water, if required, and mix well.
  15. Bring the sambar to a boil.
  16. Garnish with coriander leaves.
  17. Serve hot with rice and ghee with potato fry, yam fry or banana fry and papad on the side.

Tips

  • I dry roast the tuvar dal till it just starts to change colour before pressure cooking it. I find that it enhances the taste and color of the sambar.
  • Pressure cook the tamarind with 1/4 cup water, instead of soaking it. You will find that you get thicker pulp and that it does not have the raw smell either.
  • I sometimes add 1/2 tsp raw rice and a few pepper-corns to the sambar masala. If you do, add the rice along with the coriander seeds and crushed pepper-corns along with the coconut.
  • If you add whole pepper corns, they tend to explode.