Ulli Sambar in Kerala Style | Shallots Sambhar | Onion Sambar | Kerala Sadhya Recipe | Side Dish for Rice, Dosa, Idly

Web 2 Kerala Style Ulli Sambar

Sambar, also spelled as Sambhar is a very popular dish in India, especially South India. Normally, this lentil-based vegetable stew is served as a side dish for rice, dosa or idly. Whether it is for breakfast, lunch or dinner, no matter what, people have an immense love for SAMBAR!

As cited in Wikipedia and other sources in the internet (Quora , Sthotra Ratna), it is said that Sambar is originated in the kitchens of the Thanjavur Maratha King in 17th century. However, there are so many variations of Sambar across different states. Now, let’s talk about the Kerala Style Sambar.

Sambar have an important place in Kerala Cuisine. It is a main dish in a Kerala Sadhya (banquet). A typical Kerala Style Sambar is made by cooking split pigeon peas (toor dal or thuvara parippu) and vegetables along with home made sambar masala. Home made Sambar masala includes: dry red chillies (vattal mulaku), coriander seeds (malli), fenugreek seeds (uluva), skinned black gram (uzhunnu), asafoetida (kaayam) and grated coconut. Even though there are numerous brands of ready made Sambar powders available in the market, many people still prefer the traditional way of making Sambar.

Let’s see how to make Ulli Sambar or Shallots Sambar in a traditional style. This recipe doesn’t require any vegetables other than shallots and tomatoes. But, you may add vegetables of your choice to make Varutharacha Sambar.



  1. Shallots (Cheriyulli) – 2 cups or 300 gms, peeled (do not slice)
  2. Split pigeon peas (Thuvara Parippu / Toor Dal) – ½ cup, washed well
  3. Tamarind – a small gooseberry sized or 10 gm
  4. Tomato – 2 medium-sized, chopped
  5. Green chillies – 3 slit
  6. Turmeric powder – ¼  tsp
  7. Water – 3 cups
  8. Salt – as per taste
  9. Coconut Oil – 2 tbsp

To roast and grind

  1. Dry red chillies – 8
  2. Coriander seeds – 1.5 tbsp
  3. Fenugreek seeds (uluva) – ¼ tsp
  4. Skinned black gram (Uzhunnu parippu or Urad dal) – 1 tbsp 
  5. Grated coconut – ½ cup
  6. Asafoetida powder (kaayam podi) – 1 tsp

To temper

  1. Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
  2. Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
  3. Dry red chillies – 3
  4. Curry leaves – 1 sprig


Stage 1

  1. Soak tamarind in 1/4 cup warm water for 15 minutes. Take the extract and keep it aside.

Stage 2

  1. Pressure cook toor dal in 1 cup of water for 4 or 5 whistles. When the pressure settles, mash the dal and keep it aside.

Stage 3

  1. In a pan, dry roast dry red chillies, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, skinned black gram until it releases a nice aroma and turns slightly brown.
  2. Add the grated coconut and roast till it turns brown. Take care not to burn the coconut. Keep the flame in medium-low. Once it is well roasted, keep it aside to cool.
  3. Grind the roasted coconut mix to make a smooth paste. Keep it aside.

Stage 4

  1. In another thick bottomed pan, heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil.
  2. Add shallots, green chillies, tomatoes and salt. Saute till the shallots turns translucent.
  3. Add the tamarind extract to the shallots. Let it boil.
  4. Add the mashed dal and the coconut paste.
  5. Add 2 cups of water to it. Adjust the amount of water according to your preference. Let it boil. Switch off the flame when the shallots are cooked well.

Stage 5 – The Final Stage. Now it is time to temper the dish.

  1. Heat 2 tbsp coconut oil in a kadai.
  2. Add mustard seeds. Let it splutter.
  3. Add 3 dry red chillies and 1 sprig curry leaves.
  4. Add this tempering to the Sambar and mix well.

Serve with rice, dosa or idly.  Also, Try Puttu + Sambar combination.


  1. If using solid asafoetida, fry it in little oil and add it while grinding.

Web 3 Kerala Style Ulli Sambar

Enjoy! 🙂

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