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Idli Sambar Recipe

Updated on September 12, 2012

The popular Idli recipe

Idli is a favorite dish of every south Indian. Now it has become very popular even in the other parts of India and all over the world because of its simple yet delicious taste and also because you can eat it even when you are ill. It is good for health because it needs the minimum ingredients that are almost fat-free (about 1% fat) and contains essential nutrients too. Its main nutrient is carbohydrates the others being proteins and minerals.

After many attempts at making idli, taking advice from everyone I met in order to get fluffy idlis, I succeeded at last. If you are using a wet grinder, the proportions I have given will be ideal. If you are using a blender, then, you'll have to add more urad dal, say 1 cup for 2 1/2 cups rice.

I am giving you the exact proportions I used, so you are bound to get the recipe right if you follow this recipe religiously. I have tried to mention all the little things too, because it is due to these that a recipe turns out well or otherwise. Try it out and let me in on your opinions please.



Idli rice 2 1/2 cups

Urad dal 1/2 cup

Fenugreek seeds 1/2 tsp

Salt 2 1/2 - 3 tsp

Soak rice in 3 cups water and dal in 1 1/2 cups water separately for at least 6 to 8 hours.

Add fenugreek seeds to either rice or dal.

Soaking overnight is helpful.



Grind urad dal first with all the water for 45 minutes till it is frothy and smooth. Take care to scrape the sides of the grinder with a spatula after about 15 minutes to mix the chunks of dal that may be sticking to the sides.

Remove dal on to a container and then add rice to the grinder.

Grind for about 15 minutes using all the water till the batter is a little coarse (no issues even if it is ground to a smooth paste).

Add the ground urad dal paste, add salt and grind for another 5 minutes. You can also add the rice batter to the container with urad dal paste and mix well with the hand after adding salt. Mixing with the hand is said to induce heat and aids in quicker fermentation.

Remove and let it ferment for at least 8 to 10 hours.

Grease idli plates with a little oil.

Pour the batter into the plates.

Boil 2 cups of water in pressure cooker.

When the water boils, place the idli stand in the pressure cooker. Close the cooker and wait till steam is emitted and then reduce the flame.

Steam cook for 10 to 12 minutes on medium flame.

Serve hot with coconut chutney, tomato chutney, onion tomato chutney and/or sambhar.

Refrigerate the remaining batter after use.


Tips to getting fluffy idlis

  • Grinding urad dal well is one of the secrets to getting soft and fluffy idlis.
  • Never add water to the batter just before making idlis as this will spoil the texture of the idlis.
  • When you remove the batter from the grinder or blender, ensure the right consistency of the batter. Add water if necessary and let it ferment. The batter should be of a pouring consistency.
  • The best solution to this issue is to buy ready made idli batter once and check out its consistency. You'll have a fair idea about the batter then. But ready made batter is not always consistent. I am sure that with one or two trials idlis should turn out very well.

Any recipe turns out well only with practice. So, with a lot of practice and experimenting, you are bound to become an expert cook very soon. Good luck!!


Sambar | Source

Delicious Idli sambar

Idli sambar recipe is something which almost every Indian likes to know about because it is a favorite dish of most people in this country. As far as I remember, my grand mother and mother used to prepare sambar (very tasty) but I always had the feeling that it was way too complicated with coconut and other spices roasted and ground and added to the recipe at the right time so as to give the recipe its special flavor. But the sambar with ground spices and coconut goes well with rice while the other recipe without coconut goes well with breakfast items like Idli, Pongal, Vadai etc.

South Indian sambar can be prepared in two different ways:

  • With coconut and other spices as I mentioned earlier
  • Without grinding coconut in a much simpler way

I have found the second recipe for sambar easier and less time consuming. For this recipe you need to powder the spices and add to the tamarind pulp, so you'll be able to make the dish almost instantly, provided you have a few nice veggies to add.I have been preparing this type of sambar all these years and did not find the need to look for an alternative as this method itself was pretty simple and liked by everyone at home.


All about Idli sambar and its popularity

Idli is tastier only with side dishes like any type of chutney and/or sambar. There are people who would eat idli just for the sambar that comes with it, such is the special taste that sambar has.

Two days ago, when I wanted to prepare this 'special' South Indian sambar, I found to my dismay that I had run out of the sambar powder that I always stored in my kitchen. Idlis were cooking and I had already cooked dal and prepared the tamarind pulp for the sambar, but didn't know how to proceed because sambar powder, the most important ingredient was missing. It was at this moment that I decided that I WAS going to prepare sambar, irrespective of the availability of the spice powder.

I prepared sambar and was thrilled to hear all at home praising the idli sambar recipe. So here goes the instant South Indian idli sambar recipe that gives five servings:



Tamarind pulp -- 3 tbsp.

Small onions/Sambhar onions -- 10 nos.

Potato -- 1 small

Carrot -- 1 small

Capsicum -- a small piece

Tomato -- 1 (alternatively add 2 tomatoes and omit tamarind)

Red gram dal (Toor dal) -- 200 grams

Asafoetida -- 1/2 tsp.

Turmeric powder -- 1/2 tsp.

Chilli powder -- 2 full tsp.

Coriander powder -- 2 full tsp.

Fenugreek (Methi) powder -- 1/4 tsp.

Salt -- as per taste

Curry leaves -- a few

Fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) -- 2 or 3 tsp. finely chopped

For seasoning:

Oil -- 3 tsp.

Mustard -- 1/2 tsp.

Black gram dhal (Urad dal) -- 1/2 tsp.

Bengal gram dhal (Chana dal) -- 1/2 tsp.

Red chillies -- 2 or 3 broken



  • Pressure cook toor dal with turmeric powder and asafetida , beat it and keep aside.
  • Wash and cut veggies into slices except the onions which should be used whole.
  • In a pan, heat oil and fry onions and when they turn pink, add the rest of the vegetables and fry for a minute.
  • Mix in chilli powder, coriander powder and fenugreek powder. Take care to add only a little quantity of fenugreek powder as more of it will make the sambhar bitter.
  • Add tamarind pulp and tomato sliced finely.
  • Let it boil for 5 minutes so that the vegetables become soft; add salt.
  • Mix in the cooked and beaten dal and let it boil for a few more minutes.
  • If you think the consistency of the sambar is watery, make a paste of 1 tsp of wheat flour and a little water, add it to the sambar when it boils, stirring all the while , otherwise lumps will be formed and spoil the idli sambar recipe.
  • Garnish with cilantro leaves.
  • Instant South Indian sambar is ready to be consumed with soft and fluffy idlis, the South Indian favorite food.

Of course instant sambar means sambar prepared without having to do a lot of work; in this recipe, if you have cooked dal, the other things are easier to do and it becomes an almost instant recipe.

A tip for getting dal cook well and faster is to keep it soaked in water for an hour before cooking it; alternatively, boil the dal in a vessel directly before cooking it in a pressure cooker,it cooks faster. If you can't soak it or boil it, the fastest and easiest way to cook dal is to pressure-cook it directly (instead of double boiling) in the pressure cooker.

I'd be glad to hear your feedback about this instant recipe which proves that you don't have to always depend on specific ingredients for cooking. There are always alternatives which when used wisely, will give better recipes than even the original ones. Happy cooking!!

For some more Indian recipes you can look up My Cookbook of Indian Recipes.


These are a few of my favorite things

Which is your most favorite South Indian breakfast recipe?

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