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].
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.