On a skillet, heat up 2 or 3 tsp oil. Add all the shallots and fry till they become translucent.
Now add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute. Add the rest of the spice and fry till they are light brown.
Now add the grated coconut and roast it with the rest of the spices till everything is browned and you get a fragrant aroma. Let this mixture cool.
Once, cooled, grind this roasted spice mixture in the grinder with some water.
To make the sambar
First, boil the tuvar dal till in a pressure cooker with the sliced or chopped onion and hing, till the dal is soft and well cooked. Mash the cooked dal slightly with a spoon when done.
Chop all your vegetables. Add all the vegetables except for the okras (bhindi) to the cooked tuvar dal along with turmeric powder and some water. Give a nice stir to the entire mixture.
Cook the dal with the vegetables until they are half cooked. This takes about 11-12 minutes.
Now add the chopped okra, tamarind pulp, and the ground masala. Add some more water if the sambar has become thick.
Add salt and give the sambar a boil once and then simmer till the veggies are cooked. This will approximately take about 15-16 minutes.
Close the flame when all the ingredients in the sambar have nicely infused with one another and you have a lovely sambar aroma. Keep the sambar closed with a lid and move on to the next step of tempering the sambar.
In a pan or the tadka utensil, heat oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Then add all the other ingredients and fry them till they become fragrant. Take care they do not get burnt.
Once the tadka is ready, directly pour the hot tadka on the hot sambar.
Immediately, cover the sambar with a lid and let it stay closed for some 5 minutes.
Serving the Sambar
Give the sambar a standing time of 2-3 hrs. The sambar tastes good when kept for some hours after making it. The taste of a freshly prepared sambar is different than the taste of a sambar which has been made a few hours ago.
Serve the kerala sambar with boiled rice and pappadums, accompanied by a side vegetable dish and a bowl of yogurt or raita. Enjoy.
Traditionally ginger and garlic is not added. You can skip them if you want.