Arachuvitta Vengaya Sambaar ~ South Indian Shallot Lentil Stew

I am a literal sambaar fan. However, this seems to be the first sambaar recipe on this blog. Why is that? Because we always make our sambaar using store bought sambaar powder and believe me, I do not want to post a recipe when you can get it right at the back of the box! For those who don’t know what is sambaar, then it is a South Indian lentil stew filled with vegetables, that goes so apt with any South Indian fare, like rice, dosas (crepes) and idlis (rice discs!). My favorite vegetarian eatery in this part of the world is Sangeetha’s and I always eat from there at least once a month. Our menu is mostly standard – vadas, ghee roast or the mini thali. It rotates between the three of us – ie. me and the kids. HD is never a part of our eat-out escapades, but when he is there, one more thing adds to the menu – idlis. It is me who always finishes up the sambaar and the chutneys on all the platters, as the kids just prefer the white coconut chutney.

When I saw the recipe for shallot sambaar with ground spices on two of my favorite blogs here and here, I decided to mix up the two and make my own version of this sambaar. First of all this one has no vegetables, except loads of shallots or pearl onions or cheriyulli, as we call it. And secondly, the ground masala makes this sambaar taste just out of the world. You can definitely replace part of the pearl onions with some vegetable and cook this one too. I know it needs a lot of patience to peel a full cup of them, but once you make the sambaar and taste it, all the pain of the hard work disappears!


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5 from 2 votes

Arachuvitta Vengaya Sambaar ~ Pearl Onion Sambaar

Course Vegeterian
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Author Rafeeda


  • 1 cup pearl onions cheriyulli, peeled
  • 1/2 cup toor dal
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 big pc tamarind
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp jaggery optional
  • Salt to taste
  • For grinding:
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp chana dal
  • 3 dried red chillies
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds methi
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • For tempering:
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves


  • Wash the pearl onions. You can cut the bigger ones into half.
  • Pressure cook the toor dal with just enough water, turmeric and salt till done.
  • Soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Squeeze out the liquid and discard the waste.
  • Dry roast the ingredients except the coconut in the "for grinding" section till a nice aroma comes. Allow to cool. Grind along with the coconut with very little water to a coarse paste.
  • Heat ghee in a "manchatti" (earthern pot). Add the pearl onions and saute till it starts to cook. Once the raw smell is gone, add the tamarind water and around a cup of water. Allow the mixture to boil and then add the jaggery. Now continue to cook till the onions starts wilting and looks cooked.
  • Add in the cooked toor dal and continue to cook till it gets fully done. Add in more water at this stage depending upon the consistency required. Finally add in the ground paste and cook for not more than a couple of minutes - do not allow it to boil. Switch and give a nice mix.
  • Heat oil in a little saucepan. Splutter the mustard seeds and fry the curry leaves. Pour into the prepared sambar. Relish hot with rice!



Join the Conversation

  1. i want to dig into this sambar and its been months i made this.going to make this tomorrow

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Ramya…

  2. Raf, same reason why I am not posting my all time fav.. tamalachi’s fav 🙂 I have made this once and thats it.. I kinda stir away from having to grind paste etc.. but when craving calls.. I do it like its a cake walk… Thank you for sharing the recipe and two wonderful food blogs..

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Hehe, tamilachi! 😛 We rarely have a full on lunch and this was my first attempt… HD just sat drinking the remaining of the sambaar… that good! 🙂 In fact, I somehow hate making from the packet, each brand tastes different… 🙁 Thanks a lot Fami…

  3. Sambar looks delicious

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thanks a lot Beena…

  4. That is one flavorful sambar!

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thanks a lot Beulah…

  5. 5 stars
    Sambar from scratch is the best dear. looks delicious.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Viki…

  6. I love ulli sambhar. And this sounds delicious.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Sreelatha…

  7. My mom’s signature dish. Love it totally.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thanks a lot Sowmia…

  8. I love making sambhar as one can any sort of vegetable in it. Sambhar and rice is our comfort food.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Mayuri…

  9. Hi Raf,

    The combination of spices that you have used must be making your sambaar very flavoursome 😀


    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Zoe… 🙂

  10. My absolute favorite.. Yum yum..don’t tempt me pls.. :&)

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Vidya… 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    Love this version of sambar. Amazingly delicious 🙂

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Kushi… 🙂

  12. My older son loves the smell of sambar both love samber with idlis or dosa . Thanks for the recipe

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Nammi…

  13. One of my favorite sambar! yummm…

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Priya…

  14. randu dosa pinne aa sambaarum thannu enne oru side’il eruthiyal mathi …happy soul i would be…

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Anupa…

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