When ever I make Onion Sambar, I am reminded of this; It was about a year ago, my daughter fell down on the tennis court while reaching for the ball and hit her face and head very badly. We rushed her to the emergency room, since her head was hurting and she was feeling giddy, The doctor checked her and found that she chipped a tooth (it was a baby tooth) and said if she faints or anything like that bring her back, but make sure she is speaks coherently etc. (With a head injury you have to watch the child.)
So any way we come back home, I had made Mini Idlis and Shallot Sambar for lunch. My husband thought she can have the idlis with sugar since her mouth was swollen, and asked her if she wants idlis with sugar or sambar,
she asked "What sambar have you made?"
I replied, "Shallot sambar"
She said "I will have idli and sambar"
My husband heaved a sigh of releif, and exclaimed "Everything is fine with her!!"
Back to our recipe
When you want to make Onion Sambar, you have got to use shallots. Do not use pearl onions since they really do not have any extraordinary taste, except being tiny and hard to peel. You could also make this sambar with big Onions (sliced big onions), even though they may not taste better than Shallots.
This measurement will feed approximately 8 people or twice for a family of 4!
Items you need
First Soak a plum tomato sized tamarind piece in 1½ cups of water
Oil -- 3 Teaspoons
Shallots --Approximately 15 (Peeled, and cut in halves or fours)
Shallots are Small Onions or (Vengayam means Onions in Tamil) (Chinna means Small)
Toor Dal (Split Pigeon peas)-- ¾ th cup
Tomato --1 medium (cut in pieces) Optional
Sambar powder -- 1 ½ teaspoon
Turmeric powder-- ½ teaspoon
Asafoetida --½ teaspoon
Salt -- 1½ teaspoon
Mustard ½ teaspoon
Dry Red Chili - 2
Curry leaves and Corainder for Garnish
--> Cook the toor Dal in the pressure cooker. Please wash the dal under running water and fill the container with 1½cups of water, add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder and give it about 3 whistles or until the Dal is soft and easy to mash with a fork. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can cook this in a electric rice cooker. I have not tried this before, but some of my friends did.
-->Squeeze the juice out of the tamarind pulp and filter the tamarind out.
-->In a pan, add 2 teaspoons oil, add one red chili and the curry leaves, once the oil is hot and the leaves start to sizzle, add the shallots, saute them till light brown and not really dark brown, make sure the fire is in medium high
-->Once the shallots are all loose, slowly add the sambhar powder, turmeric powder, and the tamarind water and let it come to a boil.
Add 1 cup of water to this if you feel the mixture is too thick. It should of tomato soup consistency
-->By this time your dal should be ready, lightly mash it with a fork and add this to the Pan.
After you add the dal, it should come to cream of Tomato soup consistency.
-->In a separate pan, add the remaining oil, add mustard seeds and Red chili, once the seeds start sputtering, add the hing and pour over the boiling sambar, garnish with coriander leaves.
I added one tomato to the onions while I was sauteing them .
To make this even tastier, I removed about a handful of the onions while sauteing and grind them to a pulp and add them back to pan, I find this makes the sambar more richer than usual.
You can eat this with hot rice (white or brown), Idlis or Dosas