There are so many variations of sambar. In the north of Kerala, they grind fried copra and add that to sambar, In Malaysia, they add fish curry powder.Yes they do!!!
my favourite is shallots sambar
Shallots:200 gm, clean and slice them
green chilli:5. split in to half
sambar dal(toovar dal) :50 gm
tamarind:1 t spn( if not using the paste, soak a small goosberry size tamarind, in 2 tbl spn hot water and strain the pulp)
chilli powder:1 tsp
coriander powder:2 tsp
turmeric powder:1 tsp
asafoetida:a small pinch
fenugreek seeds:1/2 tspn
mustard seeds:1 tspn
dried red chilli:3
curry leaves:1 sprig
coconut oil:2 tbl spn( yes coconut oil..remember onam. and the sadya isn't saday till you cook the malu way and we use coconut oil!)
Among the masses of all the dals at the shop, i could never figure out which one is sambar/toovar dal. I finally figured, the thinner uglier one is toovar dal and the chubbier cute one is chana dal that is used for parippuvada!
Clean and wash the dal and cook it in 3 cups of water, till it is soft.
Meanwhile, in a wok heat a tbl spn oil and fry the shallots and green chillies till the shallots are slightly browned.
Mix the fried shallots to the boiled dal, add all the coriander, chilli, turmeric powder, tamarind and salt. Add water to dilute. When it is boiled well, take it off from fire.
heat the wok, add a tbl spn coconut oil, add a pich of asafoetida, when it bubbles add the mustard and fenugreek seeds, when they finished spluttering add the dried chilli and curry leaves, fry for a minute till it is browned. Pour over the sambar. Serve hot.