Sunday, May 8, 2011

Idli Sambar

Idli Sambar is one of the most common breakfast dishes in most South Indian homes. At my Amma's place idli sambar is, by default, the breakfast on sundays. Somehow I have never taken a fancy to idli-sambar in restaurants - the strong smell of sambar totally puts me off. But this one, I like. I learnt this from my Pachi (aunt) when she visited us in Bangalore. She did all the cooking and I did all the hogging but thankfully I took some notes.

There are a few variations in making the idli batter. Some people add 1:2 (dal: rice) measure, some add cooked rice, some add beaten rice, fenugreek seeds. I have never tried these methods since I'm quite satisfied with this measure.

1 cup urad dal
1 1/2 cups idli rava

Wash and soak urad dal in about 3 cups water for three to four hours. Drain completely.
Grind with very little water [start with 1/2 cup water and add more as needed] into a thick but pour-able consistency. [ Make sure the dal is completely ground]. Transfer to a large vessel.
Wash idli rava. Squeeze out all the excess water and add the idli rava to the ground dal. Mix thoroughly.

Cover and place the vessel in a warm place and allow to ferment overnight.
[The vessel has to have enough place to accommodate the fermented batter or else the batter will spill out.]

Next morning, mix the idli batter, add salt [there are times when I have totally forgotten to add salt!] and mix again.

Boil some water in a pressure cooker or steamer. Grease the idli plates with oil or cooking spray. Pour idli batter into each mould till it is 3/4th full [the batter will expand when heated, so leave some room].

Place the idli stand in the cooker. Make sure that the holes and the moulds alternate so that steam can escape easily, otherwise the idlis will become soggy. [Also, I use a perforated steel plate under the idli stand (upside-down), so that it gets some height and the lowest one doesn't get soggy -  a useful tip from my mum-in-law].
If using a pressure cooker, do not add the weight. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. Switch the gas off and allow to cool for sometime. Remove the idlis from the stand with the back of a spoon or a flat butter knife.

3/4 cup dal (I used 1/2 cup toordal + 1/4 cup moong dal)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 gooseberry sized tamarind
3 to 4 tsp sambar powder
Oil / ghee
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
6 to 8 curry leaves

Pressure cook dal with about 2 1/2 cups water for 3 to 4 whistles. Churn with a whisk or large spoon.
Soak tamarind in 3 tbsp warm water, pressing it into the water.

In a large deep bottomed pan, heat oil + ghee. Saute onions till they turn transluscent.
Add sambar powder and roast for a couple of minutes. Squeeze out and discard tamarind and add the tamarind water to the onions. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

Now add dal and mix. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil. [I like my sambar a little watery, so adjust water accordingly. Also if you refrigerate the sambar, it will thicken so add more water and boil before serving]. Add salt and cook.

To season, heat oil/ ghee. Add mustard seeds, when they splutter add curry leaves. Immediately add to the sambar.

Serve idlis with steaming hot sambar. My dad likes to put a dollop of curd on top. It does add a different taste.

Note - If you stay in a cold region where the batter does not ferment overnight, you can heat the oven to about 105ºF. Turn the oven off and after a couple of minutes, place the batter in the oven. The warmth in the oven will speed up the fermenting process. Thought it's spring here right now and the weather is warm, I applied this method to make sure the batter ferments.

Sending this to Bookmarked Recipes.



  1. tempting sambar and soft idly..looks great..

  2. what sambar powder do u use apy?

  3. I usually use Aruna Sambar Powder (you don't get it here), but this time I ran out of it so used some unbranded (home-made) sambar powder from India.

  4. Love this comfy brkfast anytime...

  5. My fav breakfast, simply inviting..

  6. Wow.. Wow.. and Wowwww... looks simply amazing and perfect dear... lovely step by step clicks.. Awesome job :) :)
    Indian Cuisine

  7. your pictures are so helpful for beginners...really very comforting breakfast

    Hamaree Rasoi

  8. Yummy and healthy breakfast..

  9. perfectly shaped idlis and sambar is a quick one

  10. Idli sambhar, the name itself makes me hungry..looks so good!

  11. I tried the sambhar (added veggies) and it turned out great!! :)

  12. Thanks fr trying. Adding veggies sounds good :).

  13. Delicious idlies and flavourful to have it any time.

  14. Can I have your sambar powder recipe please

  15. I used store bought sambar powder.

  16. appy can i used it same????????????pls tell me

  17. can i use the samolina insted of idli rava??????

    1. If idli rava is not available you can soak rice and grind it. You may have to soak 3 or 4 cups of rice.

      I haven't replaced idli rava with semolina anytime for this recipe. But you can make rava idli instead which uses semoilina. I don;t have a recipe in my blog so you can check online. I do have a vermicilli idli recipe, do check my breakfast section in recipe index.
      Hope this helps.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...