Wednesday, March 14, 2018



In South India, we refer to small onions used for making sambar as shallots. They are also called Baby Onions and are much smaller in size than the regular onions.  Elsewhere in this blog you will find the recipe for Ulli Theeyal, a popular dish from Kerala made using shallots.

One of the most famous dishes prepared using shallots is the famous Chinna Vengaya Sambar of Tamilnadu. This goes great not only with rice at the meal but also as an accompaniment with idli, dosa, etc at breakfast.

It takes more time and effort to peel the shallots but I can assure you the sambar makes it worth it. Fortunately, peeled shallots are readily available, for a price of course, in many Supermarkets these days.

Today's recipe has been adapted from Onion Sambar/Vengaya Sambar from the popular blog, Subbu's Kitchen. We tried this out and it was very aromatic and so delicious!


  • Shallots, ( Baby Onions), 250 gms or 25-30 nos. approx. 
  • Tur Dal, (Arhar Dal), 1/2 cup
  • Tamarind, lemon-sized ball
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/4 tsp
  • Salt, to taste 
  • Coriander Leaves, finely chopped, for garnish

To Be Roasted & Ground Into A Paste ;

  • Asafoetida, (Hing), 1/4 tsp
  • Byadgi Red Chilies, 7-8
  • Channa Dal, 1 tbsp
  • Coriander Seeds, 1 tbsp
  • Fenugreek Seeds, 1/4 tsp
  • Shallots, peeled, 5
  • Coconut Gratings, 2 tbsp
  • Oil, 2 tsp (for roasting) 
For Seasoning: 
  • Mustard Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves, a few
  • Asafoetida, a pinch
  • Oil, 2 tsp

Wash and peel the shallots 
Wash and cook the tur dal in adequate water adding the turmeric powder, in a pressure cooker for 3-4 whistles or till it gets well cooked. Once it cools, remove the cooked dal from the pressure cooker, mash it and keep aside
Soak the tamarind in warm water and extract the juice. Keep aside.
Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan and when it gets hot, add the asafoetida and fry for a few seconds till it gives off a good aroma
Add the red chillies and when they get roasted remove them and keep aside.
In the same pan, add the channa dal, coriander seeds, and fenugreek seeds and fry them on medium flame till the dal changes colour
Once they are cooled, transfer the roasted red chillies, channa dal, fenugreek seeds and coriander seeds to a mixer and grind them along with the coconut gratings and 5 peeled shallots to a smooth paste adding a little water. Keep the ground paste aside.
Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan  and when it gets hot add the mustard seeds on medium flame and when they splutter add the curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida and saute for a few seconds
Now add the remaining peeled shallots and saute till they turn transparent and continue till they turn slightly golden in colour. (Do not saute them excessively as this will make them burnt and taste bitter.)
Add the tamarind extract and salt, mix well and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes
Next add the cooked and mashed tur dal and the ground paste prepared earlier and mix well
To this add the required amount of water to get the sambar consistency and bring to a boil
Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, switch off the gas and finally garnish with the chopped coriander leaves