Cook the dal and shallots in a pressure cooker with enough water.
Heat the 1/2 tsp oil in a small kadhai. Add all the ingredients for the masala except the coconut. Roast for 4-5 minutes on a low flame. Add the coconut and fry for another minute. Grind to a fine paste.
A plateful of steaming hot rice, a spoonful of ghee, ladlefuls of this sambar over it, appalams and potato roast on the side. See you when I'm back from heaven.
Heat oil in a vessel. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, red and green chillies and fry for a minute. Add the masala and fry for a couple of minutes more. Add the tamarind paste and salt and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the cooked dal and onions and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
This goes well with idlis and dosas, but can also be eaten with rice and potato curry.