Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Sambhar with Shallots (Baby Onions)

Last week I purchased one packet of shallots (baby onions). With them, I prepared a south Indian special ‘shallot sambhar’ i.e. tiny, baby onions are first peeled out of their dry skin/coverings, then cooked as whole, in thick lentil (toor dal) soup. Tasty and delightful! Like all babies, they are tiny bundles of joy, a gastronomic kind:) and worth the high price.

 Shallot(Baby onion) Sambhar, Toor dal
Shallot Sambhar – Light and refreshing


My sambhar cooking routine is a three-step process.

1. Pressure-cook the toor dal until soft, so that it can be mashed/pureed into smooth paste. Soak the tamarind in water to extract the juice.

2. In the meantime, cut and cook vegetables for sambhar- usually tomatoes and vegetables (shallots). The process I follow is like this. Heat one teaspoon of oil a big saucepan, add and toast popu ingredients. To it, I’ll add chopped tomatoes and cook them until they turn soft and mushy. Then I’ll add and cook shallots (or vegetables), one cup of water and also the seasoning (sambhar powder, turmeric, red chilli powder and salt).

3. Simmering 1 and 2 together- To the cooked tomato-shallot mixture, add the mashed toor dal paste and tamarind juice. Stirring in between, let simmer for about 15 to 30 minutes. Just before turning off the heat, garnish with finely chopped cilantro and serve.

4 fistfuls of toor dal (3/4 cup)
12 to 15 shallots (baby onions)
2 ripe juicy tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tamarind juice
1 tsp of sambhar powder
1/2 tsp of red chilli powder and salt
1/4 tsp of turmeric
Cilantro for garnish
Popu or tadka:
1 tsp each of mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal, curry leaves, minced garlic. Also few curry leaves and dried red chilli pieces
I prepared this sambhar for idlies and for idly sambhar, I usually add half tsp of cloves & cinnamon powder, to spice up the sambhar a little bit.

Mashed Toor dal, Tamarind juice, tomatoes, shallots (Baby onions), cloves and cinnamon
Ingredients for shallot sambhar

For more detailed sambhar recipe (like how to prepare home made sambhar powder etc.,), check out my other blogged recipes- Okra Sambhar and white radish sambhar.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Onions,Shallots,Toor Dal (Monday February 20, 2006 at 3:28 pm- permalink)
Comments (19)

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19 comments for Sambhar with Shallots (Baby Onions) »

  1. hi indira
    nice to read about the way you make sambhar. i will try it using your method. i usually pour in the tamarind juice after toasting the popu ingredients. then i wait for five minutes or so until the strong tamarind smell goes away. it is only then that i add sambhar powder and the the veggies usually sauteed or boiled separately.
    ps – i absolutely love your photos. which software do you use to jazz them up? are there any online tutorials you know of for food photography?

    Comment by lulu — February 20, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

  2. Hi Lulu,

    Everyone has their own method of preparing the sambhar, Is’t it? .:)
    I prepare tamarind extract from raw tamarind and I usually add it later in the recipe. No smell and cooks fast and thorough too.

    Thanks for your comments on photos. I hate to jazz up the photos. Believe it or not, the pictures here are exactly how I shoot them with my camera. Because I reduce them significantly in size to fit in my blog, they lose the sharpness of its original size. I sometimes sharpen them a little bit using adobe. That’s about it. Whatever jazzing I do, I do it with my camera lense.:)

    I follow photography discussion on ‘Food Blog School’ and also my husband Vijay’s(he is a professional photographer) advice. I also read and follow some good photography sites, mainly observing how they are shooting the object etc., There is one site “Food Photography Blog”, check it out for some useful tips.
    Hope this helps.:)

    Comment by Indira — February 20, 2006 @ 4:25 pm

  3. Hey Indira..
    Great pictures Indira..I tried your menthi-kura-pappu and it turned out very comforting and I have tried your pesarapappu charu too which also turned out too gooddd and comforting for my tummy..Thanks a tonne and I look forward to try more recipes from your site…
    I have added your recipe to my sideblog…

    Comment by BDSN — February 20, 2006 @ 7:07 pm

  4. Wow Indira! This is my kind of Sambhar! I always make Sambhar only using tomatoes and onions, since both me and my hubby don’t like veggies in it.

    PS: On a different note, I do hope you remember the FRM event coming up. I can’t wait to see what you have instore for the love theme! :o)

    Hugs, Meena

    Comment by Meena — February 20, 2006 @ 8:20 pm

  5. Indira – I love shallot sambar with dosa idlis. Do you have a post on making the batter for them? My past several attempts at fermenting the batter for dosas have gone ‘un-sour’ (pun intended). I think the cold temperatures in my kitchen added to the batter not ground well are some reasons for this. I would love your suggestions on ‘better batters’ when you get a chance. Thanks!

    Comment by Garam Masala — February 21, 2006 @ 10:35 am

  6. Hi Indira,
    Your blog is awesome! Pictures are superb.


    Comment by priti — February 21, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

  7. Indira,
    Thankyou for the link about the food photography.

    Comment by Arjuna — February 21, 2006 @ 2:08 pm

  8. thanks for the tips, indira. your photos are just gorgeous!

    Comment by lulu — February 21, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

  9. Hi Indira,
    Made my first sambar today! I used your recipe but with different veggies. I think it came out very delicious if I don’t say so myself. The aroma of the sambar powder is heaven! I’m bringing it to my nutrition class this evening for our snack…if there is any left 😉 ha!
    Thanks for your recipe! I hope to get to the idlis soon.
    Best, Sandy

    Comment by Sandy — March 1, 2006 @ 5:51 pm

  10. Hello Dear Indra,

    Your recipe of sambar & dosa are very easy to cook and serve to my punjabi family.This is tasty and easy to digest dish.

    Thanks for your recipe .

    Comment by Mamta Vohra 8-9-06

    Comment by mamta vohra — September 8, 2006 @ 6:12 am

  11. This site is incredible! I love it.

    Comment by Jason — October 29, 2006 @ 9:41 am

  12. madam.
    Thank you for the wonderful web site. you are keeping alive the traditional art of cooking
    Lord Venkateswara Bless your family.

    with regards .NAMASTHE.

    Comment by narsimha rao.b.v. — November 12, 2006 @ 7:07 am

  13. Hi! Indira,
    I have been an avid fan of your blog ever since I retired 6 months ago, and have tried a number of your recipes specially the vegetables. My latest try was Idlis after seeing your mouthwatering pictures. I used Swad Parbiled Idli Rava in the proportion of 1:3 urad dal to the rice rava. I used methi seeds as you suggested and kept the covered batter on my deck during the day to ferment. Idlis turned out very good, even without the baking powder, but perhaps that is because it is presently very warm in NJ. The Swad parboiled Idli Rava was a new find for me, and I am wondering if you have ever tried it.
    Thank you for the wonderful blog, my daily visit.

    Comment by Shula — August 26, 2007 @ 7:35 am

  14. Hi Indira,

    I am big fan of ur blog and i am trying the recipies like south indian recipes.You have explained everything good and have taken a good pictures of them. From today i will try cooking different recipies
    Thank u very much. A Wonderful Blog

    Comment by kkpraveen — November 27, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

  15. hi indira

    this site is really very useful for working women who have no experience in cooking.

    Comment by sugasini — January 10, 2008 @ 8:48 pm

  16. Hi Indira, I would like to purchase your Recipe Book and Video CD’s. Please inform me where do I get your VCD’s and Books. Thanks

    Comment by Anita Correa — February 19, 2009 @ 12:11 pm

  17. I am a very good fan of you and I ate the sambhar with the masala dosa at an Indian restaurant and I realy like this and I wanted to know how to make it now as I know how to make it so I’m going to try this at home. I would like to have a recipe book so I can try more things. Thank you.

    Comment by ashneel — April 28, 2009 @ 5:30 pm

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