Onion sambar is essentially a broth made with toovar dal, and is very popular in the cooking of southern regions of India. The toovar dal are cooked until they are crumbling. A mixture of ground spices known as sambar powder (which contains roasted coriander seeds, chillies, lentils, and other spices) and tamarind are added to the dal.
Sambar onions are small and purple in color in India. It is also called pearl onions or shallots in America) are the best for this sambar. They are a little more pungent but in a good way and carry a flavour different from the big onions. The shallots you get in America are a bit bigger than the indian ones, You may have to chop it smaller.
Thoor Daal 1 cup
small onions(whole) or pearl 15 medium size
water 2 cups
Green chilies 4 medium size
Red chilies 2 medium size
Turmeric 1/2 tbsp
Tomatoes 1 medium size
Chili powder 1/2 tbsp
Tamarind paste 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder 1/2 tsp
Asofetida 1/4 tsp
Garlic 2 pods
Ulath daal 1/2 tsp
Mustard seed 1/2 tsp
Oil 1 tbsp
Cilantro 1/4 bunch
Salt to taste
1 In pressure cooker add the daal, turmeric, asafetida, water and garlic and close it with the weight on
2 Once the high steam comes turn to low heat and let it cook for 10 mts
3 Then add the small onions (do not chop them), tomatoes, green chilies, chilies powder, and salt and some extra water for the vegetables to cook
4 Once the mustard seeds begin to pop remove the pan pour the seasoned ingredients into the cooker which is boiling
5 Add the tamarind paste and Sambar powder and boil for just exactly a second. Remove and garnish it with the chopped cilantro. Serve with white rice, pongal, idli or dosa
Vegetables and spices such as turmeric and chilli powder are also added. The dal and vegetable stew is heated until the vegetables cook. A wide variety of vegetables may be added to sambar. Typical vegetables include okra, drumstick, carrot, radish, pumpkin, tomatoes, and whole or halved shallots or onions, but many different vegetables may be used with adequate results. Typically sambar will contain one or several seasonal vegetables as the main vegetables in the soup.
The cooked sambar is typically finished with an oil-fried spice mixture containing items such mustard seeds, urad dal, dried red chillies, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, and asafoetida. Fresh curry leaves or coriander leaves may be added at the very end to enhance the flavor. Curry leaves in particular are an essential element of authentic sambar; their aroma and flavor provide sambar with a distinct and pleasant herbal essence.