Easy Onion Sambhar


Sambhar is an authentic staple stew of South Indian cuisine served with rice which is made with cooked lentils, onion, tomato and tamarind juice and flavourful seasonings. A variation of sambhar called “tiffin sambhar” is served with idly, dosa and pongal. It is made in all South Indian homes and Indian restaurants everyday. Come, let’s see how to make this basic version of sambhar at home with easy method and step by step pictures.


Category: Vegan

Cuisine: South Indian

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4


  1. Onion- 1
  2. Tomato- 2
  3. Green chillies- 2
  4. Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
  5. Sambhar powder- 1.5 tbsp
  6. Salt- as required
  7. Chopped Coriander leaves- 1 tbsp

For Cooking Dal

  1. Toor dal – 1/2 cup
  2. Water- 2 cups
  3. Turmeric powder- a pinch  

(For Extracting Tamarind juice

  1. Tamarind- 1 small lemon sized ball
  2. Water- 3/4 cup

To temper

  1. Oil- 2 tsp
  2. Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
  3. Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
  4. Red chilli- 1
  5. Curry leaves- 1 sprig
  6. Asafoetida- a pinch


1. Preparation: chop onion and tomato into cubes and set aside. Slit green chillies and finely chop coriander leaves.

2. To cook Dal: Pressure cook 1/2 cup toor dal with 2 cups water and pinch of turmeric for 7 to 8 whistles. Once the pressure releases, mash it and set aside


3. To extract tamarind : Soak tamarind in hot water for 20 minutes and squeeze using your hands and extract the juice. Filter and set aside. Alternatively, you can add tamarind and water to a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds and extract the juice.


4. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and allow to crackle. Then add cumin seeds and let it crackle


5. Add curry leaves, red chilli, asafoetida and sauté for a few seconds.


6. Add onion and green chilli and sauté till onion turns golden. Do not brown the onion.


7. Add tomatoes along with salt and turmeric powder and allow to cook.


8. Add the mashed dal to it and adjust the water consistency (about 3/4 cup water) and check for salt. Let it come to a boil. (NOTE: Sambhar thickens on cooling, so add water accordingly)


9. Now add sambhar powder and cook for 2-3 minutes until it boils.


10. Add the extracted tamarind juice and boil well until the raw smell leaves (about 5-6 minutes)


11. Add chopped coriander and switch off the flame. Serve hot with rice topped with a tsp of ghee and any curry/ poriyal or papad of your choice. Delicious and easy sambhar is ready to eat.



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