July 14, 2007

Vengaya Sambar (Shallot Sambar)

There are things that I tolerated as a child. Because I was the no-fuss variety. It is not like I loved everything dearly and relished everything Amma put before me. Almost everything, but not everything. Every Sunday, breakfast at our place used to be Idli, Vada, Sambar and Chutney. This used to spill over to Mondays as well. The sambar almost always used to be vengaya sambar (onion sambar). And the onions were always shallots. My brother loved this and now I think that maybe that could have been one of the reasons I disliked it.

We found shallots at the INA market some time ago and decided to bring some home. But we quickly forgot about those. The burglary kind of blanked me out for sometime. S loves sambar and I love dal and rasam. But I can eat sambar. After all, I grew up eating different types of sambar at least 3 times a week.

I decided to make this sambar. But I didn't want to make it the usual way with sambar powder. That evening, my craving was for sambar made with freshly ground masala. So, another call to Amma and I was ready to rule the world.


1/4 kg Shallots
2/3 cup Toor Dal

For the masala:

1/2 tsp Oil
1 tbsp Urad Dal
1 tsp Asafoetida
3 Red Chillies
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
2 tbsp Chana Dal
1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 tbsp Peppercorns
2 tbsp Scraped Coconut

For the tempering:

1 tsp Oil
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves
1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1 Green Chilli, slit
1 Red Chilli
4 tbsp Tamarind Paste
Salt to Taste

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.

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.

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.

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