Onion Sambar- Everyone’s favorite

Say Sambar and you’ll have everyone drooling. I don’t know of a single person I’ve met or known who doesn’t like this dish. You can never have enough of it. For us Sambar is a Sunday specialty with its aroma filling the lazy Sunday atmosphere and whetting our appetite for a sumptuous lunch. Though Sambar can be made with most vegetables, I’m giving the recipe for onion sambar which is a super specialty!! This is the recipe as made by my Grandma and nothing beats it.

Onion Sambar


  • Toor/ Arhar Dal – 1/2 cup
  • 1 cup of small Madras onions
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – As required
  • Tamarind – A gooseberry sized ball
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves – A few
  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Asafetida- 1/2 tsp

For Sambar Masala

  • Fenugreek seeds- 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander seeds: 1 tsp
  • 1 tsp Chana dal (Bengal gram)
  • Curry leaves
  • Dry red chillies – 2 – 3 nos
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut


  • Pressure cook the dal with the required amount of salt and turmeric.
  • Keep it aside in the cooker for thirty minutes and then churn it.
  • Leave the tamarind ball in water for 10 minutes, squeeze out the extract and pour it into a cooking pan
  • Peel and roast the onions in some oil/ghee and add them into the tamarind water.
  • Add salt, turmeric and bring it to a boil
  • Fry all ingredients of the Sambar Masala, excepting coconut in 1 tbsp of oil and grind in with coconut after it cools
  • Add the Sambar masala in the boiling tamarind water.
  • Add the cooked dal and bring it to a boil
  • Add asafetida and more salt if required
  • Give a tadka of mustard, curry leaves in coconut oil

Serve hot with rice

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

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