BABY ONION SAMBAR
A great many varieties of Kozambus (thick gravies) are served with rice as the first course of a meal in all South Indian homes. Kozambus with dal, without dal, with tamarind, without tamarind and even without either, are the many varieties served as a routine. Among all of the kozambus, Sambar occupies the first and foremost place. Sambar is prepared by cooking dal and vegetables in tamarind juice and spices.
I consider baby onion sambar as the king of all sambars. It is a delicacy, and is usually
prepared for special guests. Onion sambar is prepared in all restaurants and served along with idlies, dosas and vadas. Vadas soaked in sambar is a connoisseur’s delight.
We took our friend’s family for a treat to a restaurant which was famous for its mouth watering masala dosas and basundi milk sweet). My friend’s 3 year old daughter was bowled over by the taste of the sambar, served with the dosa. We were all awe struck to see the little girl slurp cup after cup of the spicy hot sambar as though she were relishing a cup of ice cream. Now restaurants usually serve an extra cup of sambar free of cost on request. Watching cup after cup disappear, my husband assured the flabbergasted waiter that he would pay for all those additional cups. The poor waiter finally looked greatly relieved!
Tur Dal (Red gram lentil) – 1 tea cup
Tamarind - enough to roll into the size of a small marble.
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Curry leaves – 10
Cooking oil – 3 tbsps
For Sambar Masala Paste
Bengal gram dal (chana dal) – 1 tbsp
Black gram dal (urad dal)1 tsp
Coriander seeds -1 tbsp
Red chillies – 8
Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp
Dry coconut gratings or
Roasted fresh coconut gratings – 1 tbsp
1. Soak tamarind in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes, and extract the juice.
For Sambar Masala Paste
1. Heat ¼ tsp of oil and fry the asafoetida.
2. Add black gram dal, bengal gram dal, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds and lastly the red chillies, and roast till crisp and golden in colour.
3. Dry grind all the roasted ingredients.
4. Now add the dry coconut gratings and grind again with some water and keep the paste aside.
To prepare the Sambar
1. Heat the remaining oil and add mustard seeds followed by curry leaves.
2. After the mustard splutters add the peeled baby onions and stir.
3. Cover with a lid and cook on low flame.
4. When the onions are done and look glassy, pour in the tamarind extract.
5. Add salt and cook for for 5minutes on a medium flame.
6. Add the cooked dal and stir well avoiding lumps.
7. Now add the ground sambar masala paste. If the masala is too thick, you can dissolve in ½ cup of water and then stir it in.
8. Let the sambar boil for 2 more minutes until all the ingredients blend together giving out a delicious aroma.
9. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving.
Enjoy baby onion sambar with rice or any other dish of your choice.