Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kutti Vengaya Sambar (small onion sambar)


Deepavali mornings were very special.  We would wake up super early, have an oil bath, quickly wear our new clothes, and run outside, to be the first on our block to start bursting crackers!  I am sure the adults in our neighborhood were cursing us – wishing we would give them a couple of more hours to sleep in! 

Vengaya Sambar

After we exhausted our cracker supply, we would come in, ravenous, to a delicious meal of vengaya (onion) sambar, rasam, urilaikizhangu (potato) curry, avial or kootu, appalam, vadai, and payasam. What a feast!

I thought that this was the tradition only in my house, but we went to a friends’ place on deepavali, and she pretty much recited the same menu, saying that they made this the night before for a deepavali dinner.

Deepavali is the one festival, where you can use onions in your cooking, and there is no neivedyam (or offering of prasadam to God) – at least not in my house.



I followed this menu at home this year for our deepavali lunch.  I did not make payasam, but make pedas instead.  I also made kootu instead of avial.

Kutti vengaya (small onion) sambar adds a festive feel to any meal.  It is almost as easy to make as any other type of sambar, and when you serve it, people think you have gone to a lot of trouble.

Here is what you need:


  • ½ cup toor dal, washed and cooked in a pressure-cooker, till done
  • small lime –sized ball of tamarind, soaked in warm water, or 2 -3 tsp. tamarind paste
  • 10 -1 2 small red onions
  • 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 4 – 6 red chilies
  • ¼ tsp. methi seeds (fenugreek)
  • 1 tsp. jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 2 tsp. channa dal
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup coconut
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • ¼ medium onion, chopped
  • ½ tomato, chopped
  • 2 tsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 2 red chilies
  • ¼ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • ¼ tsp. methi (fenugreek seeds)
  • few curry leaves
  • salt to taste

Here is how I made it:


  1. Extract the juice from the tamarind and discard the remaining pulp (if you are using tamarind)
  2. Peel the skin off the baby onions.  An easy way to do this – cut the top and bottom off the onions and dry roast in a hot pan for 2 - 3 minutes.  Let it cool slightly and then rub off the papery skin.
  3. Dry roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chilies, channa dal, pepper, and methi. Set aside
  4. Heat 1 tsp. oil in a small sauce pan.  Fry the chopped onions till translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for a couple of more minutes.  Let this cool for a few minutes.
  5. Blend the dry roasted masalas, the onions, tomatoes, and coconut to a smooth paste.  Set aside.
  6. Heat oil in a pot.  Add mustard seeds, red chilies, hing, and methi seeds.
  7. When the mustard seeds sputter, add the small onions and curry leaves.  Fry for a few minutes.
  8. Add the tamarind extract (or a little bit of water mixed with the tamarind paste) and salt to taste.  Let this come to a boil.  Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes till the raw smell goes from the tamarind and the onions are cooked.
  9. Add the ground paste and cook for a few more minutes.
  10. Mix the cooked toor dal with a little water, and mash it up well.  Pour this into the sambar.  Let this whole thing simmer for about 10 minutes.
  11. Check to make sure that salt is adequate and turn off the heat.


Serve hot with rice, urilaikizhangu curry, and appalam.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...