Vengaya sambar – shallots in lentil soup


Sunday menus often feature this delicacy. A spicy lentil soup featuring shallots (chinna vengayam) and a mix of spices. In our home vengaya sambar is part of weekend lunch and leftovers had with puris or adai in the evening.

Stuff you will need:

Shallots – 1 cup peeled and slit
1 cup thuvar dhal
Tamarind – a ball the size of a small lime.
Sambar powder – 2 tsp
Coriander seeds – 2 tsp
Bengal gram dhal – 1 tsp
Dry red chillies – 2
Coconut gratings – 1 handful
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dhal – 1 tsp
Turmeric – 1 pinch
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Oil – 3 tsp
Ghee – 1 tsp
Coriander – 1/2 bunch washed trimmed and chopped to garnish

How to make it?

Pressure cook thuvar dhal, mash and set aside. Soak tamarind in water, extract pulp and set aside. Dry roast coriander seeds, bengal gram dhal, dry red chillies and coconut gratings till reddish brown, cool and grind to smooth powder. Set aside.

In a wok or deep vessel heat oil. Add mustard seeds and when it bursts add urad dhal and a pinch of turmeric and asafoetida. Add shallots and saute till translucent. Add sambar powder and stir fry till smell of sambar powder fills the air. Add tamarind water and let simmer till smell of raw tamarind goes away. Add powdered spice mix and mashed thuvar dhal and simmer on medium hot for 5 – 10 mins. Garnish with ghee and cut coriander.

Serve hot with rice and vegetable or as a side to adai or puri.

Serves four

Special notes:

Add half a spoon of sugar to enhance the taste of spices. Garnish with ghee optional but makes the sambar taste authentic.


Ezhu kari kootu


Ezhu kari kootu or seven vegetable stew is a savory stew of vegetables in tamarind water garnished with a spice mix that replaces the sambar powder. This is usually served with Thiruvadhirai Kali or Chakkara pongal. It is customary to use seven, nine, eleven or odd numbered vegetables.

Stuff you will need:

Seven vegetables that are a combination of root vegetables, pods, over the ground vegetables etc. A sample list is as under. Cut these into equal sized bits. Ideally 1″ bits so they retain shape even when pressure cooked.

White pumpkin
Red pumpkin
Flat beans (Sabre beans)
Green banana
Seppan kizhangu (no idea what it is called in other languages)
Green peas
Mocchai (similar to lima beans)
Dry red chillies – 8
Bengal gram – a handful
Coriander seeds – 2 tsp
1/4 of a coconut shredded
Curry leaves – 2 – 3 twigs
Thuvar dhal – 2 handfuls
Salt to taste
Turmeric – 2 tsp
Tamarind the size of a small lemon – soaked and extracted to a pulp
Oil for tempering
Black mustard seeds – 1tsp
Urad dhal – 1 tsp
Jaggery – 1 tbsp

How to make it?

Dry roast and grind the chillies, bengal gram dhal, coriander seeds, coconut gratings and curry leaves. Set aside. Pressure cook vegetables and thuvar dhal with salt, turmeric and asafoetida in little water. In a wok, heat oil, season mustard and urad dhal. When done add tamarind pulp, cooked vegetables/dhal, ground spice mix, jaggery and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Turn stove off and garnish with coriander leaves.

Serves six

Special Notes:

This is usually served with Thiruvadhirai kali or Chakkara pongal.