Recipe for Idli ( from Idli Rava) and Sambar

Recipe for Idli ( from Idli Rava) and Sambar

Idli is undoubtedly one of the healthiest breakfasts in the world. It is easy to make, nutritious and light. This breakfast is very popular in the southern parts of India.

So what is Idli? Idli is a steamed dumpling made with rice and lentils. Nowadays, many recipes for idli have come up. People are experimenting with Oats Idli, millet Idli, all lentils Idli etc. But traditionally, it has been made with rice and black gram ( skinless ) lentils. The grains are soaked and then ground together. Then they are fermented overnight. Then the fermented batter is poured into idli moulds and steamed. The idlis are then eaten with Sambar or Chutney.

Idli is made in every south Indian home. In south India, small and big restaurants serve idly along with many other south Indian delicacies for breakfast. It is a simple and humble breakfast that has been feeding generations of Indians for ages.

Idli is made in many ways too. Today, the recipe I am sharing is made with Idli Rawa and lentils. Idly Rava is coarsely ground rice. Using Idli Rava reduces your work drastically as you don’t have to bother grinding rice ( which is done in traditional Idli making). Along with it, I am sharing a Sambar recipe too. Some days back, I posted a recipe for Sambar, which goes well with rice. This recipe goes well with Idli.

So, let us start. I am breaking this recipe into two parts:

PART 1: Preparing Idlis

PART 2: Preparing Sambar

PART 1: Preparing Idlis

Ingredients needed for making Idlis:

  1. Idli Rava: 3 cups, soaked overnight in 3 cups of water

    See below: Idli Rava, before and after soaking.


  2. Urad Dal (Split Black gram lentils): 1 cup, soaked overnight in 2 cups of water

    See below: lentils before and after soaking.


  3. Salt: 1 teaspoon
  4. Water: To adjust the consistency.

Method for making Idlis:

  1. Grind the soaked lentils to a fine paste.
  2. Combine with the soaked Idli Rava. Mix well and let it ferment ( for about 8-10 hours) in a warm place.


  3. Once fermented, add salt.


  4. Mix well.


  5. Grease idly plates with oil or ghee. Now pour the fermented batter.


  6. Heat water in an idly stand and bring it to a boil.
  7. Now place the idly plates inside the idly maker and let them steam for 15 minutes on high heat.
  8. Once done, remove it from the heat and let it stay closed for about 5 minutes. Then take out the plates and let them rest on the kitchen counter for about 1 minute.


  9. Then sprinkle some water on the trays. It will help in removing the idlis easily. Remove the idlis with the help of a spoon.


PART 2: Preparing Sambar

Ingredients needed for making Sambar:

To make Sambar, we will first prepare a masala paste. Then we will add it to fried onions and tomatoes and complete the process of making sambar. Therefore, I am splitting the ingredients list into two parts- Ingredients needed for making masala paste & Ingredients needed to make the sambar.

Ingredients needed for the masala paste:

  1. Urad Dal ( Split Black Gram): 1 teaspoon
  2. Chana Dal ( Split Chickpeas): 1 teaspoon
  3. Black peppercorns: 1 teaspoon
  4. Fenugreek seeds: 1 teaspoon
  5. Cumin seeds: 1 teaspoon
  6. Coconut: 1 few pieces.
  7. Coriander seeds: 2 tablespoons
  8. Curry leaves: 5-8
  9. Kashmiri Red Chili Powder: 2 teaspoons

Other ingredients needed for Sambar:

  1. Sesame oil: 1 tablespoon
  2. Asafoetida: 1/2 teaspoon
  3. Dry red chillies: 3-4
  4. Curry leaves: 8-10
  5. Cumin seeds: 1 teaspoon
  6. Onion: 2 medium-sized, cubed
  7. Tomato: 1 medium, roughly chopped
  8. Salt: 2 teaspoons
  9. Powdered Jaggery: 1 tablespoon
  10. Turmeric Powder: 1 teaspoon
  11. Tamarind water: Extracted from lemon-sized tamarind pulp
  12. Water: 5-6 cups

Method for making Sambar:

Method for making Masala Paste

  1. Dry roast chana dal ( split chickpeas), Urad dal(split black gram), fenugreek seeds and black peppercorns on medium heat.
  2. When the lentils become light brown, add coriander seeds and cumin seeds.


  3. Now transfer to a mixer grinder. Grind along with red chilli powder, curry leaves and coconut.


  4. Add water to make a fine paste. Keep aside.

Method to make Sambar:

  1. In a pan, heat oil.
  2. On medium heat, add asafoetida, cumin seeds, curry leaves and dry red chillies.


  3. Now add onions and fry them till they become translucent.


  4. Now add tomatoes and fry for 30 seconds.


  5. Now add the paste.


  6. Add 5 cups of water. Add turmeric powder, salt, jaggery and tamarind water.


  7. Boil for 10-15 minutes on medium heat.

Sambar is ready. Serve it with hot steamed idlis. Sambar can either be served in a bowl, and spoonfuls of sambar can be combined with idli and eaten, OR you can take a serving bowl and dip the idlis in sambar and serve.

Some additional notes:

  1. For my readers in Europe, below are the pictures of Idli Rava and Urad Dal that you need for this recipe. These pictures are just for reference just to help you identify the product.

    Idli Rava
  2. To get fluffy and soft idlis, the batter must get fermented properly. If the weather is hot, the batter will get fermented easily in 8-10 hours, even when kept on the kitchen counter. However, if it is cold, keep the batter near a warm place for fermentation. E.g., inside the oven with the light on.
  3. An idli steamer is a necessary tool for making idlis. However, you can even make idlis in a regular steamer too. You can pour the idli batter into the steamer plate and steam the idlis.
  4. Before keeping the idlis for steaming, always make sure that the water in the steamer is boiling, else the idlis may become hard.

Check out other recipes from my kitchen here.

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