Vengaya Sambar

Vengaya Sambar is my second favourite sambar type, after the drumstick one course! This simple recipe is primarily made with pearl onions, arhar (tur) dal & sambar powder. Just like other varieties of sambar, this one pairs very well with plain steamed rice & a kootu on the side 😋 A lot of restaurants serve this sambar along with meals, dosa or idlis. It is absolutely lip-smacking & full of flavour. This recipe calls for small/pearl onions but they might not be available everywhere, in which case you can use regular onions (please don’t).
I usually make sambar for lunch as we don’t eat rice regularly at night. Serve it with a side fry of potatoes/beetroot/beans, some appalam, chilled curd, a simple salad & you have a satisfying meal ready to be enjoyed 😃 Try out the Vengaya Sambar recipe & you’ll be surprised how something as basic as onions can lift a dish this much!

Vengaya Sambar

Course: MainCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time



A South Indian favourite made with lentils & pearl onions.


  • Arhar (tur) dal: 1 cup; soaked for 1 hour

  • Pearl onions: 1 cup

  • Tomato: 1; chopped

  • Tamarind paste: 1tsp

  • Sambar powder: 2tbsp

  • Turmeric: 1tsp

  • Salt to taste


  • Mustard Seeds: 1tsp

  • Heeng (asafoetida): 1/2tsp

  • Dried red chillies: 2

  • Curry leaves: 1 sprig

  • Fresh coriander: A handful; chopped

  • Oil


  • Add the soaked dal into a pressure cooker with turmeric, salt & 2.5 cups water for 4 whistles or until the dal is cooked well.
  • In the same pressure cooker, add 2 teaspoons of oil and tip the the pearl onions in it. Roast the onions for 4-5 minutes. Once the onions are roasted, add the tomatoes, sambar powder & the tamarind paste.
  • Close the pressure cooker and let the onions & masala to pressure cook for 2 whistles. When the pressure releases, open the cooker, add the dal & combine the sambar well. Check for seasoning.
  • Take a small tadka pan with oil. Add heeng, mustard seeds, dry red chilli & let it crackle. Add the curry leaves and add the tempering to the sambar & bring to a rolling boil.
  • Once done, add the chopped coriander & serve the Vengaya Sambar with steamed rice & a side dish.


  • The sambar of course tastes best with homemade sambar powder but I’m often too lazy for that so I use this brand called Eastern. It’s good!
  • Use regular onions (don’t) if you can’t find shallots.

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