Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Vengaya Sambhar made with Koli Masala

There is more than just a few sessions of FOCUS FOOD BLOGGING, goodies that filled bag loads
(for which I paid excess fare to carry home), two days of fun, food and wonderment that the IFBMeet gave me. I got to connect with people whom I share common interest with. Some of them I had known, others not even on networking platforms; all of whom only through their respective blogs.
I had known Anjali through her blog Annaparabrahma,  and through friends who had her on their list of friends. We had not been introduced even virtually, until few messages that were on a group chat in connection with the Meet at Bangalore, and arrangements for our stay during the period. I met her at the serviced apartments with other friends. It was an immediate connect with her. Through the two days, I observed that she was very committed to her goal and took in all of the sessions with a seriousness of a student. The IFBM just whizzed by and we were saying our goodbyes; that is then she handed me a bulky packet of her home made masala that wafted an aroma through the packing. That was the koli masala that she makes and distributes through her e-shop.

This is a fine compound of 18 spices in certain specific proportions that are ground together; it has a heady aroma and adds such good flavour to curries. I believe it is a basic masala they add to fish curries and such, while Anjali being vegetarian has posted more vegetarian dishes using the masala. I had actually read up her recipes and recreate a dish, but then I was also raring to try giving my regular dishes an added twist. The outcome of such an idea is this vengaya sambhar.
I have never before used sambhar powder or any powder in my vengaya sambhar. I may add an extra spice, sometimes ginger, sometimes cloves, yet grind fresh for the sambhar and no compromise on that for the vengaya sambhar. Then there has to be a first for anything and I chose to try cooking my vengaya sambhar with the Koli masala. I am happy with the choice that we enjoyed the flavour packed, pungent with browning shallots and the subtle sweet from the coconut milk, that I had added to it.

Vengaya  Sambhar made with Koli masala and Coconut milk
Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup (120-125 ml) thuvar dhal/ split yellow lentils
1 tablespoon tamarind -tightly packed
200 grams shallots/ chinna vengayam/ sambhar onions/ Madras onions
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1&1/2 teaspoon Koli Masala
1/3 cup coconut milk, made slightly thin with addition of a little water
2 tablespoons sesame seeds oil/ gingelly oil (any cooking oil)
Salt to taste

For Tempering:
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves

Rub a few drops oil over the shallots to make it easy to peel them. Peel the shallots.
Soak the tamarind in 1/4 cup of water for a little while. Squeeze out the pulp; add some more water and extract most of the pulp. You may repeat this to achieve more from the tamarind.
Wash the thuvar dhal and pressure cook adding the turmeric powder and sufficient water until very soft and almost mash-able. Allow to cool and mash coarsely.
Take the gingelly oil in a pan and heat it. Add the shallots and sauté until they turn pale and shining. Allowing them to brown just so little will add to the taste, but do not overdo that.
Add some water to the sautéed onions and cook them till slightly soft.
Add the tamarind extract, salt, and the koli masala and allow to simmer over medium heat to let the raw taste subside.
Add the cooked dhal, adjust the water and cook for 7 to 10 minutes.
Pour in the coconut milk, reduce the heat and allow the sambhar to thicken to required consistency.
In a separate pan heat the oil for tempering and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the curry leaves and toss for a few seconds. Temper the sambhar with the same.

Serve the sambhar with hot steamed rice, idlis and dosais as desired.
The combination of vengaya sambhar and urulai kizhangu roast kari (shallow fried spicy potato dry curry) is an unbeatable pair. Try them, you will sure enjoy.


  1. Lataji, it was so wonderful to meet you at IFBM and especially the stay at Aranha that bound us as friends. Thank you for the kind words and continue enjoying the masala. It was very generous of you to share it with more blogger buddies and above all I am proud that my masala travelled to Africa with you! Love.

  2. Lata, and Anjali. This recipe is a great way to showcase the diversity of Indian food to the world. Adding coconut milk and spice powders renders it an almost Chettinad preparation. Fantastic!

  3. sambar looks very delicious.. First time here. Glad to follow you via GFC. Do visit mine if you find time.


Welcome and thank you for taking time to drop by.
I appreciate your valuable comments and tips.
I sincerely hope to improve with them.
Hope we shall interact often.
Thanks once again,
Lata Raja.