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May 19, 2014


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This is my basic South Indian style sambar recipe for rice. Chinna vengaya sambar/Small Onion sambar is one of the most aromatic sambar recipes next to drumstick sambar.  Last year I posted brahmin(iyer)style arachuvitta sambar recipe with onions and drumstick adding freshly roasted and ground paste. But this sambar is very simple and easy to prepare which needs no grinding and no coconut. It can be made within 10 minutes if you have cooked toor dal ready in hand. Even bachelor’s can try this sambar.

This is my MIL’s basic sambar recipe with onions. Mostly I make this sambar when I run short of vegetables. As shallots are very costly in Bangalore compared to Salem, my in-laws buy one or two kgs for me whenever they visit my place. So I keep making onion recipes like sambar, chutney or pickle at least twice in a week. This vengaya sambar is our family favourite. 

Raksha loves to have this sambar for idli, dosa too. So I dilute this sambar slightly and serve it with mini idli drizzling with ghee. Ok, Lets see how to prepare this south indian onion sambar recipe.
Onion sambar recipe

Onion sambar recipe/Vengaya sambar

Onion sambar recipe/Vengaya sambar Small onion sambar recipe - South indian style sambar recipe with step by step pictures.
Cuisine: Indian
Category: Lunch
Serves: 3
Prep time: 15 Minutes
Cook time: 10 Minutes
Total time: 25 Minutes

1 cup - 250ml
To pressure cook
  • Toor dal - 1/3 cup
  • Turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
  • Red chilli - 1 no (pinched)
  • Curry leaves - few
  • Cooking oil - 2 drops
  • Water - as needed
To temper & saute
  • Cooking oil + Ghee - 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Methi seeds - 1/3 tsp
  • Red chilli - 1 no ( pinch into 2)
  • Green chillies – 3 – 4 nos
  • Small onions/Shallots - 20 nos OR Sliced Big onion - 2 nos
  • Tomato – 1 no ( cut into small pieces)
  • Curry leaves - few
  • Hing/Asafetida - 2 generous pinches
For sambar
  • Tamarind - Big gooseberry size
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Sugar or jaggery – 1/4 tsp
  • Sambar powder - 1 to 1.5 tsp (homemade or any brand powder)
  • Salt & water - as needed
Coriander leaves - few

  • Pressure cook toor dal adding all the ingredients mentioned under “to pressure cook “.  Pressure cook in low flame for one whistle adding enough water. Open the lid and mash the dal well with a ladle. Set aside.
  • Soak tamarind in 1/2 cup of water. Wash and peel the small onions, slit green chillies and set aside.
  • Take the tamarind extract adding 1-1.5 cups of water. Extract should be 1.5-2 cups in total. Add sambar powder, turmeric powder, salt, hing and pinched raw curry leaves to it.
  • In a kadai, heat oil+ghee and splutter mustard seeds. When it starts to crackle, add methi seeds, pinched red chillies, green chillies, small onions, tomato pieces  & curry leaves. Saute until onion turns transparent.
vengaya sambar step1
  • Now add the tamarind extract mixture, sambar powder and boil well till onions gets cooked well yet firm without losing its shape.
  • After the mixture is reduced in quantity, add cooked toor dal and sugar or jaggery. Add little water if necessary. Boil for 2 minutes. Adjust the consistency. Check for taste.
vengaya sambar step2
vengaya sambar step3
  • Garnish with coriander leaves, boil for few seconds and switch off the flame ! Transfer it to a vessel. Add a tsp of ghee. Cover it with a lid. Give a standing time of 30 minutes and then serve.


  • Adding ghee while tempering gives a nice smell to the sambar like in restaurants.
  • Use sliced big onions in place of shallots if you don’t have in hand but small onions gives a nice flavor than big ones.
  • Adjust the quantity of tamarind if you add tomato else sambar will become tangy.
  • If you feel the sambar is tangy, add some plain red chilli powder & allow it to boil for sometime. It helps to balance the taste.
Enjoy vengaya sambar with vathal/vadam or appalam & poriyal. I had with simple tindora curry.
Onion sambar lunch menu
Do check out my other sambar recipes if interested

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Rafeeda AR said...

looks really so easy and delicious...

Anonymous said...

Onion sambhar, one of a sure hit dish with rice/ tfn..nice pic

great-secret-of-life said...

my fav sambar... looks very yum!

Anusha said...

Love the platter with the sambar, rice, vadam and all. Cant imagine life without sambar na? Sambar la ethanai vakai?!!

AparnaRajeshkumar said...

very very handy sambhar... yes when u have cooked toor dal and shallots :D u get a nice combo

Radhika's Kitchen said...

Love the last pic very much Chitra. I love china vengaya sambar of all the other sambar varieties though getting rid of the skin can be a pain at times.

Chitra said...

Correct,oru recipe pala variety ;)

Unknown said...

Flavorful sambhar........looking yummm!

Sona said...

Delicious and flavorful sambar.. Nice clicks..

Priya Suresh said...

Such a comforting food, can survive many days with it. That last pic torturing me.

puratchi said...

Very nice

vv said...

Simple sambar, tastes so good!

Chitra said...

Thank you:)