Onion Sambhar/ Ulli Sambhar


My favourite Indian breakfast is Dosa, sambhar and chutney. Oh wait! It is Poori Bhaji (fried Indian bread with a spicy potato side) but dosa comes second. I love crispy dosa with little bit of ghee, to go with that a hot serving of sambhar and a delicious coconut chutney.

There are many different variations of a sambhar. Every place cooks it in their own unique way. I don’t think there is a right or wrong version to any of these. The base ingredients is always the same- lentils, vegetables, tamarind, dry roasted spices. In an onion sambhar, as the name suggests the main ingredient is shallots and the rest of process is almost the same as any sambhar. This recipe is adapted again from my favourite blogger. Hope you enjoy this.


Ingredients : 

Shallots /Small Onion /Ulli : 1 cup
Tomatoes : 1 (medium, chopped into big pieces)
Tuvara, Sambar Parippu / Toor Dal /Yellow Pigeon Pea : 1/2 cup
Green chilies : 2-3 (slit)
Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp
Tamarind /Puli : gooseberry sized ball

Asafoetida (Kayam) : A pinch
Red Chilly powder : 1 tsp
Coriander Powder : 2 tsp
Sambar Powder : 3 tsp
Mustard Seeds : 1/2 tsp
Dry Whole Red Chillies : 3
Curry Leaves : A sprig
Coconut Oil : 3 tbsp + 1/4 tsp
Water as needed
Chopped Coriander Leaves – 2 tsp
Salt to taste


1. Pressure cook toor daal with water, 1/4 tsp of tumeric powder and salt for 4-5whistle. After the pressure settles open the cooker and keep it aside.

2. Soak tamarind in 1/2 cup of warm water for sometime, squeeze and take the extract from it. Keep aside.
3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan and add small onions and green chillies and saute for 2 minutes now
add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, chopped tomatoes and enough water and cover the pan and allow to boil.

4. When small onions are cooked and done, remove the lid of the pan and add in the tamarind juice and cooked dal. Stir and simmer on low flame for some more time and add more salt if needed.
5. Add chopped coriander leaves and and sprinkle asafoetida powder and simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove from flame and keep aside.
6. Heat oil in a wok and allow mustard seeds to splutter, throw the dried red chillies and curry leaves and fry for a minute.
7. Mix in the sambar powder, coriander powder and chilly powder and saute for 2 minutes on low flame.
8. Pour the sambar to the wok and mix well for a few minutes. Remove from flame and sprinkle 1/4 tsp coconut oil and keep covered till served. Serve with Idli or Dosa or with rice and Enjoy!




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