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.
Ingredients for Masala
- Grated Coconut or Nariyal – 4 tbsp
- Bengal Gram or Chana Dal – 1.5 tbsp
- Coriander Seeds or Saboot Dhania – 2 tbsp
- Red Chillies or Akha Lal Mirchi – 6 to 8
- Asafoetida or Hing – 1/4 tsp
- Coconut Oil – 1.5 tbsp
Ingredients for Sambar
- Tuvar Dal – 1 Cup
- Madras Onions or Shallots – 12 to 16
- Tamarind – 1 Lemon Sized Ball
- Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Red Chillies – 2
- Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
- Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp
- Curry Leaves – A Few
- Coriander Leaves – A Few
- Salt to Taste
Method to Make the Masala
- Heat the coconut oil.
- Add the chana dal and fry till it is light brown.
- Add the coriander seeds and fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the split red chillies and grated coconut.
- Over medium heat, stir-fry till the coconut starts to change colour.
- Turn off the heat.
- Add the asafoetida and mix well.
- Set aside to cool.
- When the sambar masala mix is cool, grind to a smooth paste with some water.
Method to Make the Sambar
- Peel the Madras onions and set aside.
- Soak the tamarind in about 1 cup water for 15-20 minutes.
- Squeeze the soaked tamarind well to extract the pulp. Discard the tamarind.
- Pressure cook the dal with 1.5 cups water for about 3 whistles or till it is mashable consistency.
- In a heavy-bottomed vessel, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil.
- Add mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
- Add the Madras onions and split red chillies.
- Shallow fry till the onions start to turn brown.
- Add the curry leaves and tamarind juice.
- Cover and cook till the onions start to turn transparent and the raw smell of the tamarind juice disappears.
- Add the sambar masala and a 1/4 cup water.
- Cook covered for 5 minutes till the masala starts to boil.
- Add the turmeric and mashed dal.
- Add some water, if required, and mix well.
- Bring the sambar to a boil.
- Garnish with coriander leaves.
- Serve hot with rice and ghee with potato fry, yam fry or banana fry and papad on the side.
- 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.