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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?

See results


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    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thanks Michelle for the compliment and the pin, share etc. Cheers, Rema.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Delicious, Rema. You are a great cook!! Pinning and sharing!

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thank you very much tillsontitan for stopping by and commenting. Cheers, Rema.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      What interesting dishes! So many different foods to try. Loved the photos. Voted up and interesting.

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thank you very much jennzie for your kind words. Nowadays, idli batter is readily available in all grocery stores, so once this is available, making idlis is a breeze. I wish you would try it and enjoy. Thanks again. Cheers, Rema.

    • jennzie profile image


      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      This is a unique recipe that I would be interested in trying. Great hub, voted up!

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thanks Anamika for the comment.

      Cheers, Rema.

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S Jain 

      7 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      A South Indli Sambar sounds great!

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thank you naimishika for stopping by. Cheers, Rema.

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Deepika,

      Thanks for the comment. Cheers, Rema.

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi jainismus,

      Very nice of you to visit my hub and post a comment here. I had a few of our English friends say that idli-sambar is their favorite too. My sister-in-law who is an American loves it. So we can say that this dish is becoming a universal favorite. Thank you. Cheers, Rema.

    • Deepika Arun profile image

      Deepika Arun 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Nothing can beat Idly Sambar! Voted Up and Useful!

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      7 years ago from Pune, India

      Idli Sambar is my favorite dish, like millions of others. Originally a South Indian dish, now has become popular everywhere in South Asia. Thank you Rema, for sharing the recipe of South Indian Sambar. Voted up and shared with my followers.

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Kumar.

      Thanks for the visit and the comment. Cheers, Rema.

    • profile image


      7 years ago from Fuck of HUBPAGES

      I love Wada Sambhar more than Idli Sambhar. When my Mom make it, I eat it till the Sambhar bowl is empty . Great hub , and will eat it today.

      Sharing to share Indian food !

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Ashish.

      The dosas made from the idli batter are very crispy and nice. So you can enjoy the sambhar with dosas made from the same batter.

      I'm sure your mom will find the recipe much simpler and tastier too. Thank you very much for the visit. Cheers, Rema

    • ashish04joshi profile image

      Ashish Joshi 

      7 years ago from India

      I too love sambhar...with dosa though.

      Thank you for this recipe...I guess I can forward it to my Mom...I'm sure she'll love it.

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thanks a lot ishwaryaa for the positive feedback. I appreciate your visit and the sharing. Cheers, Rema

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      I like eating idlis with chutneys and sambhar. I agree with you that they are healthy and tasty. Your recipes are clearly explained. You highlighted the importance of idli sambhar, being the favorite of India and now, occupied an important place in the global cuisine. An engaging recipe hub! Well-done!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up & Socially Shared.

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thank you very much CC for the good feedback. I am sure most people love idli sambar for its great taste. Glad that you prepare wonderful idlis at home. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers, Rema

    • cloudy_cool profile image


      7 years ago from London, UK

      I love Idli-Sambar and learnt how to make them when I Bangalore, IN.

      My MIL is from Delhi, but loves my homemade Idlis so much that she gifted me with an idli cooker soon after the wedding :)

      Very nice recipe, VOTED UP!


    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks very much for voting up and sharing. I thought Westerners don't find use for coconut as much as we, at the other end do. We ourselves are reducing the coconut consumption for health reasons. That is why I did not elaborate the way in which coconut is added to this dish. Anyway, I really hope you like the dish when you prepare it [with coconut of course:)].



    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      This sounds delicious! I think I will try it with the coconut! I just ate some spicy Chicken Vindaloo tonight and this food is very similar to Khmer Cambodian food in the ingredients! I like the photos! Voted up and SHARING!


    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Glad you found my hub when you thought of the dish. Thanks for the visit dipsmi.



    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi dinkan53,

      Of course sambar is not typically prepared this way. This is just a quick recipe when you don't have sambar powder. Just a short cut method. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thanks a ton chamilj for the good feedback.



    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thank you very much Radhika for voting up and for the great comment.



    • dipsmi profile image


      7 years ago from Plymouth, Minnisota

      I woke up this morning with a sudden urge of eating idli sambhar and wow! I find this. thank you so much for the recipe.

    • dinkan53 profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Idli or Dosa with sambar is a typical south Indian food and I love to have it. I usually make it slightly different way. Anyway thanks for the recipe.

    • chamilj profile image


      7 years ago from Sri Lanka

      WOW! Nice recipe! I love South Indian Foods.

    • radhikasree profile image

      Radhika Sreekanth 

      7 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Chennai Sambhar is very famous and each time I come to Chennai, there would be a "must" visit to 'Saravana' to enjoy Sambhar. You've prepared a wonderful recipe that anyone can give it a try.

      Up, useful and awesome! Sharing with my friends here.

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      8 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Suhail,

      I am sure it works out for every one who try it out, it's such a simple recipe. I am happy it turned out well for you too. Thanks for the visit.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I din't think so it would work out but actually i did thanx:)

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      8 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Nell,

      Nice to hear that you love Indian food!! Thanks a million for your good feedback!!



      Hi laconic,

      Oh yes, I will put up a pic soon. I prepare this sambar at least twice a week and it is ironic that I haven't been able to put up a photo here. You are right. Thank you.



    • laconic profile image


      8 years ago from Siesta Key, FL

      Sounds delicious. You should put up a photo!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      8 years ago from England

      Hi, I love Indian food! but then I am English! lol I seem to live on it! if I don't eat any for a week I get withdrawal syndrome! bookmarked and rated up! cheers nell

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      8 years ago from Chennai, India

      @Chatkath Glad to hear that you like Indian food Chatkath. Thanks for the comment.

      @vydyulashashi Thanks for stopping by Shashi and posting a comment

    • vydyulashashi profile image


      8 years ago from Hyderabad,India

      Sambar is the trademark food of south India.

      Good guide how to make this one more tasty.

      God Bless You!

    • Chatkath profile image


      8 years ago from California

      I love Indian Food, first time I really lived on it was in England, when I came home I missed it. Thanks for sharing your recipe remaniki.

    • remaniki profile imageAUTHOR

      Rema T V 

      8 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thanks Ruchira for the comment. For any gravy recipe, if you find it to be more watery than necessary, you can add wheat flour paste(not a paste actually but slightly more liquid) to it to make it thicker.

    • Ruchira profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      the wheat flour paste was something new...i read. will give it a try..found this hub useful :)


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