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Vengaya Sambar (Small Onion Sambar)

A comforting Sambar prepared the Tamil Nadu Style …  Prepared with cooked and mashed split red gram, whole pearl onions , home-made sambar masala, tamarind pulp with a sizzling tempering of oil, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, whole Red chillies ,fresh curry leaves, a pinch of Asafoetida and Pearl Onions.


Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 4  

Ingredients and Quantity:

Split Red gram – ½ cup

(Tur dal ,Toor Dal, Toovar dal , Arhar dal)

Turmeric powder- 1/4th tsp.

Water- 2 ½ cups

Drumsticks, clean, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces- 1 no. (Optional)

Salt- to taste

For the Paste:

Oil / Coconut Oil- 1 tbsp

Fenugreek seeds- 1/4th tsp.

Dried whole red chillies, stem and seeds discarded- 6 nos.

Asafoetida powder- a pinch

Cumin seeds- ½ tsp.

Coriander seeds- 2 tsp.

Split Bengal gram

(Chana dal)- 1 tbsp.

Poppy seeds- 1/4th tbsp..

Coconut, grated- 1/4th cup

Small sambar onions (Pear Onions, Madras Onion, Shallots)-100 gm.

For the tempering:

Oil – 2 tbsp.

Mustard seeds- ½ tsp.

Cumin seeds- ½ tsp.

Fenugreek seeds- 1/4th tsp.

Whole Red chillies -2 nos.

Curry leaves-  1 sprig

Asafoetida- a pinch

Small sambar onions / Shallots ,peeled and whole- 20 nos.

Tomatoes, red, quartered- 2 small

Home-made Sambar Masala Powder- 1/4th tbsp.

Tamarind pulp-2 tbsp.

For The Garnish:

Fresh Coriander leaves, finely chopped- 1 tbsp.


Pick, wash and soak Split red gram.

Cook in 2 ½ cups of water with salt and turmeric added into it.

When dal is ½ done add drumsticks to it.

Once cooked keep the dal aside.

For paste: Heat oil add fenugreek seeds, whole red chillies, asafoetida, cumin seeds, Coriander seeds, Bengal gram dal (chana dal) and poppy seeds. Grind to a fine paste adding the coconut and shallots using very less water. Add the ground paste to the cooked dal.

For Tempering: Heat oil add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, whole red chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida. Let them crackle / splutter add the shallots cook till golden brown, now add the tomatoes, cook for 2 minutes, add tamarind pulp cover and cook for 5 minutes till the raw aroma disappears. Add the sambar masala powder; let it cook for few seconds. Add ½ tbsp.  of water. Mix well.

Pour the tempering over the dal, mix well.

Add water and adjust consistency if the sambar is too thick.

Bring to a boil.

To Serve:

Serve hot garnished with chopped coriander leaves.

Goes best with Steamed Rice.

Chef Tips:

Though this sambar is prepared with the addition of pearl onions only, you may however experiment by adding vegetables of your choice. I am a great fan of drumsticks… therefore have added them too.