Monday, August 7, 2017

Arachuvitta Sambar Instant Pot

I recently posted my views and experience about an Instant Pot. You can check it out HERE
Today, I am presenting a simple, tasty sambar made with pearl onions or chinna vengayam. My kids love these pearl onions and call them baby onions. I used to buy fresh ones them in a bag, but it takes a long time to peel them. As, I my kids eat a lot of these onions, I use the frozen ones available from Trader Joe's.

This is for those who don't know much about sambar. In the south, you have 2 main types of sambar. The first one is called " podi potta sambar" which literally means sambar  made with pre ground spice powder. The next one is a " arachu vitta sambar" which means roasted and freshly ground masala sambar. One can add any vegetables to be in this sambar. But traditionally people use, onions, moringa or drumsticks, egg plant, okra etc.

There was a recent article on pubmed which showed there is les chances of developing dementia at older age if you eat sambar every day! So, all my friends make sambar and keep your memory cells.

I made  this pearl onion arachu vitta sambar over the weekend to go with hot fluffy idlis. My kids enjoyed it thoroughly and am hoping you all will too. This is a very easy recipe and I used precooked toor dal. If you don't have pre cooked dal, just wash & soak toor dal in water for about 20 mins and directly add to the recipe.

Get Ready:

To Roast and grind

  • 2 tbsp Coriander seeds ( dhania)
  • 2 Tbsp Channa dal
  • 1/4 tsp methi seeds/ fenugreek
  • 3 -4 red chillies ( depending on your spice level)
  • 1/4 cup thawed dessicated coconut
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder

To Temper/ tadka

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • a few sprigs of curry leaves or kariveppilai

For the sambar

  • 1  cup pearl onions
  •  1/2 Roma tomato chopped
  • 1/4 carrot cut into pieces
  • a small marble sized tamarind ,soaked in 1/4 cup water and juice extracted
  • 4 tbsp cooked toor dal ( if dry use 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tsp salt or per taste
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • a small piece of jaggery ( optional)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • cilantro to garnish


  • On the stove top, take a pan add a tsp of oil & roast all the ingredients under roast and grind except coconut and asafoetida powder till golden and aromatic.
  • Let it cool. grind the roasted ingredients with coconut and asafoetida with water to a smooth paste. Set this aside.
Ground masala with water

  • Plug in the IP, turn on saute mode.
  • Add the coconut oil, once hot, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle.

  • Add the curry leaves.
  • Add the pearl onions and saute for a few mins.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, carrots and saute for a min.

  • Add the tamarind extract, turmeric powder, salt, jaggery &the ground paste and mix. Check for salt level and adjust as per taste.
tamarind extract and cooked toor dal

  • Add 1/4  cup of water.
ground coconut masala paste added

  • Press cancel on IP
  • Press Pressure cook on you mini ( manual on regular IP) and reduce the time to 6 mins.  ( use 8 mins if using uncooked dal)
  • Close the IP with the vent on the sealing position.
  • You will notice the IP will start counting down from 6 once it attains full pressure and the metal prong pops up.
  • Once it is cooked for 8 mins, the IP will go on to display L00. wait for natural pressure release and open the IP

  • Your sambar is ready. Mix well. if very watery, let in simmer on saute for a few mins. But the sambar will thicken naturally once it is cool. if too thick add a little hot water and simmer till the desired consistency is reached.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve piping hot. It goes well with Idli, dosa, pongal or just to mix with rice and eat.


  1. Nice sambar. Where did you add Tuvar dal?

  2. Thanks Ms Chitchat for stopping by. I added with the tamarind extract as I used previously cooked dal.


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