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Idli (with Idli Rava) & Very Easy Hotel Style Sambar for Idli

This is one of my mom’s specialty. I would never eat idli sambar at school, but I used to be very very excited when Amma gave me this. You might wonder why! Well, the reason was that I could exchange my lunch with my friends and get to eat their food!!! I used to happily give away my idlis for paranta and pulav and pulusu!! Hehe…But now that I’m away from home, I miss this too much. I’ve started making this at home. I do not make idli the traditional way as I do not own a grinder. I find idli rava convenient and tasty, so its fine with me. A lot of my friends do not make idli at home thinking it is too laborious a process. Idli rava does make life easier as you only have to grind urad dal and mix in the rava. The sambar recipe I’m sharing with you all today goes extremely well with Idli and dosa rather than rice. It is very easy to make and super flavorful. So here are the recipes for Idli and my Amma’s special sambar.



Idli Rava – 2 cups (I like to buy Parboiled Idli Rava)
Split Urad Dal/Black Gram – 1 cup
Salt – 1 tbsp

Note: I never add baking powder or baking soda to the idli batter. The batter prepared in the following way will give you nice soft idlis.


  • Wash and soak the urad dal atleast for 2 hours.
  • Grind the urad dal in a blender/wet grinder adding just enough water. The urad dal usually increases a little bit in volume after grinding and becomes creamy. Add water only as required, not too much. Grind into a fine batter.
  • Wash the idli rava. Take idli rava in a big vessel and fill water in it. Just run your hand through the idli rava and water and let it sit for a minute. All the impurities will float on the top and you can then throw the water away. Drain the water completely. You don’t have to use a strainer, but remove as much water as possible.
  • Now mix the idli rava and ground urad dal in a big vessel. The vessel should be big enough, as the idli batter will ferment and expand in volume. If you use a small vessel the batter would overflow by the time you get up in the morning. So choose a vessel in which the initial batter fills up 3/4 of the volume.
  • Add salt and mix the urad dal, idli rava and salt together thoroughly using your HANDS. Yes, using your hands is very very very important. The warmth from your hands initiates the fermentation process. Mix for about 5 minutes. The batter should not be too runny nor too thick. Cover and keep in a warm place. Let it ferment overnight.

Tip: In winters, the idli batter will not ferment easily. Turn your oven on at 200 F for 5 mins and turn it off. After 5 mins place the covered idli batter in the oven. It will not turn up too much in volume, but you will get the desired sourness in the batter.

  • Next morning, when the batter has should have increased in volume or you will be hit by a sour smell as soon as you open the lid. Then you know that the batter is ready. You can also taste the batter to see if it is sour and ready. Using a long ladle, mix the batter thoroughly.
  • Prepare the idli stand. Grease the idli mold with some oil. Pour a small ladle full of batter in each idli mold(See picture). Do not pour too much batter as the idlis will expand in size as they cook.
  • Now steam the idlis for about 10-12 mins on high. I use my pressure cooker to steam. Add 1 cup of water in the pressure cooker and keep the idli stand in it. The water level should be lower than that of the last idli plate. Cover with the lid of the pressure cooker with the WHISTLE/WEIGHT REMOVED.
  • After 10-12 mins remove the idli stand from the pressure cooker and let rest for 3-4 mins. Now remove each idli carefully using a flat spoon. You will do it right after the first few times. In India, you get special flat spoons for this purpose. You could purchase them the next time you go there.
  • Serve with chutney and sambar. This is how we like to eat them, dunked in sambar!!

Easy Hotel Style Sambar for Idli


Group 1

Toor Dal/Arhar dal – 1 cup
Split Moong Dal/Green gram – 1/4 cup
Eggplant – 2-3 no. (the small ones/1/2 of a large one, Optional)
Potato – 1 small (Optional)
Capsicum/Green Pepper – 1 small
Onion – 1 medium
Green Chili – 3 no. (or more, according to your taste)
Tomato – 2 small
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Group 2

Tamarind paste – 2 tsp (or 1 small lemon size tamarind)
Sambar Powder – 1 tbsp
Coriander/Cilantro leaves – a handful
Salt – to taste
Oil – For Tempering
(You can avoid using tamarind completely and substitute it with 3-4 ripe tomatoes, that’s the way my mom makes this)

For Tempering:

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Dry Red Chillies – 2 no.
Curry Leaves – 1 sprig
Hing/Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Oil/Ghee – 1 tbsp


  • Take both the dals in a pressure cooker vessel and wash them. Chop all the vegetables, preferable into small cubes. Combine all the group 1 ingredients in the pressure cooker vessel(or directly in the pressure cooker, if you have Hawkins) and add sufficient water. Cook for 3-4 whistles.
  • Once the pressure is released, add the group 2 ingredients and bring the sambar to boil on a medium flame. Add some water if you want to adjust the consistency. Cook for about 10 mins, until the raw smell of tamarind and sambar powder goes away.
  • For tempering, heat 1 tbsp of oil, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the curry leaves, dry red chillies and hing. Saute for 15-20 secs and pour over the sambar. Finish the sambar with freshly chopped coriander leaves!!

Simple, ain’t it??

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Coconut Milk Peas Biriyani by Sharmilee @Sharmi’s Passions

Sambar Avalakki (Poha/Aval) – A light, no-cook snack!

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