Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Recipe: Onion Sambhar

Onion Sambhar is a staple in every South Indian home. It is very healthy for you and goes nicely along with many curries. It is also really easy to make. The scent from this dish will make any South Indian feel right at home!

Madh Mama's Onion Sambhar

Serves 3 people (and a baby!)


- 1 cup toor dal
- 6 shallots
- 1 green chilli
- 10-15 curry leaves
- 1 marble size tamarind (pulp)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp Sambhar powder
- 1 tbsp oil (either vegetable, sunflower or peanut oil works well)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 dry red chillies (torn up)
- 4 dashes asefoetida
- 1 tsp salt


- medium saute pan
- small omelette pan (for tempering)
- pressure cooker & two bowls for inside the pressure cooker


Chop the top and bottom of the shallots and peel the skin off.

Put the onions in the pressure cooker bowl, along with a marble sized tamarind pulp, and 1/2 cup water.

Wash the dal and then add 2 cups of water and 1/4 tsp turmeric.

*Now it is ready for pressure cooking. Pour 1-1.5 cup of water into the pressure cooker. Then stack the bowls on top of each other inside the pressure cooker and close the lid. Cook it on medium/high heat, until it whistles 4 times (4 long whistles).

After the whistles are finished, take the pressure cooker off the heat and let it cool down for at least 20 minutes. Then, open it up and take out the bowls. 

The dal should be perfectly cooked. Take out the tamarind pulp by squeezing the excess juice, and then throw the pulp out.

Scoop some of the cooked dal into the onion dish and stir it. 

Heat the pan up on medium heat and then pour in the dal mixture. Bring it to a boil.

Add the sambhar powder, add 1 cup of water, and stir. Bring it to a boil for an additional 10 minutes.

Now it is time to do the tempering. Cut the green chilli lengthwise first.

In the small omelette pan, heat up the oil and pour in the mustard seeds. 

Add the green chilli soon after, before the mustard seeds start to sputter.

When the mustard seeds start to sputter, add the asefoetida, red chillies, and curry leaves. 

Saute for about a minute, and then pour the mixture into the boiling Sambhar, then stir and add salt. 

Boil for an additional 5 minutes, and then garnish with fresh coriander.

And voila!

This dish can eaten a variety of ways. It can be eaten with rice, as a soup, with roti, or it is a nice accompaniment to idly or dosa. 



  1. I love how you write your recipes, it's so clear with all the pictures!

  2. Wow, honestly I am a big fan of sambhar made by my wife, but this onion sambhar is in fact looking too delicious.


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