Jan 22, 2014

Vengaya Sambar

An elegant , tangy and intensely flavored onion (called as vengaya in Tamil) sambar is prepared with freshly ground spices. The roasted pearl onions are cooked in a tangy tamarind sauce and ground masala made up of - red chilies, coriander seeds, bengal gram , fenugreek seeds, curry leaves and coconut. 

Vengaya sambhar is a perfect accompaniment for idly and dosa. This sambar is so tasty that it reminds me of a Sagar Fast Food in Rajajinagar, Bangalore which serves excellent sambar for idly.  

I have been trying to create as well as borrow onion sambar recipes from many. But thanks to my sister Bhavya, who shared this recipe with me.


15 Pearl red onions
1/2 cup Toor dal
Marble sized Tamarind
3/4 tsp Jaggery
4 tsp Oil/ Ghee, divided

For the masala ~
2 tsp Coriander seeds
1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp Channa dal
A sprig of Curry leaves
5 Byadagi  Red Chilies
1/4 tsp Asafoetida (hing)
3 Pearl Onions
1/2 cup freshly grated coconut

For tempering ~
2 tsp Oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds
a sprig of Curry leaves


  • Wash and cook dal with 3 cups of water in a pressure pan for 10 -15 minutes. After it has cooled, mash the dal completely

  • Soak tamarind in hot water and extract tamarind pulp

  • In a large pot, heat 2 tsp of oil. Roast all the ingredients listed under masala  except coconut. Grind these ingredients with coconut into a smooth paste

  • In the same pot, roast onions with 2 tsp of oil until it brown. Add tamarind juice and jaggery. Simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens

  • Return ground masala and dal to the pot. Adjust thickness of water depending upon thickness. Season with salt and simmer for 10 minutes

  • In a pan, heat oil. When it turns smoky, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Pour it on sambar

  • Serve hot with idly and dosa

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