Sambar idli is a very popular dish in South India. Normal sized or mini (button) idlis are soaked in delicious sambar (lentil gravy) and served. The mini idlis or 14 idlis served in several vegetarian restaurants like Saravana bhavan are very popular. Here the idlis are literally floating in the sambar. This is my mother's recipe which can be used to recreate the delicious taste of idli sambar at home.


For the idli
2 cups idli rice (white khar rice)
½ cup urad dal
¼ tsp soda
Salt to taste

For the sambar

1 cup Toor dal washed and soaked in water for about ½ an hour
2 tomatoes washed and deseeded
1 drumstick cut into 1” pieces
1 medium length carrot cut into large pieces
1 tsp red chilli powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp cumin seeds
5 or 6 cloves of garlic
A large lemon sized ball of tamarind

For tempering

1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp urad dal
8 to 10 curry leaves
12 to 14 small onions (shallots)
2 to 3 whole red chillies deseeded
2 ½ tsp sambar powder
¼ tsp asafoetida powder
1 tsp Salt or to taste


Step 1: Idli batter

Soak white khar rice and urad dal together in a bowl of water overnight or for 7 to 8 hours. Wash several times and grind it along with water to a paste. (The paste should not be very smooth. A slightly coarse paste would do). Now transfer this to a large bowl, dissolve soda in ¼ cup of water and add this to the bowl. Mix well, close a lid and set this aside for 4 to 5 hours. The batter should have raised in height by now. You can use this now or refrigerate for later use.

Step 2: Preparing the idlis

Take the idli batter, add water and salt to taste and mix well. Increase or decrease the quantity of water to get the desired consistency of the batter. Pour this into idli moulds and steam for 10 minutes. When it cools down, remove the idlis from the moulds and keep ready.

Step 3: Preparing the Sambar

Wash and soak the tamarind in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Then take the pulp and throw away the residue.

Now take a pressure cooker and add dal, tomatoes, drumsticks, carrots, chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin seeds, and garlic cloves. Add 2 to 3 cups of water and close the lid and cook for about 10 minutes or 3 whistles. The dal would have cooked by now. Switch off the gas and allow it to cool. Then separate the drumsticks and carrots from the dal mix and set aside. Cut the carrots into small pieces. Transfer the gravy to a mixi and grind it to a fine paste. Transfer this to a bowl, add drumsticks and carrots and set aside.

For the tempering, heat oil in a large frying pan, add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, urad dal, red chillies and curry leaves. Then add onions and sauté for some time till it turns golden. Then add asafoetida and sambar powder and mix well. Now add the dal mix to it along with tamarind pulp and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 more minutes. Switch off the gas. Sambar is now ready to be served.

Step 4: Assembling

Take a serving bowl, add idlis and pour hot sambar on top. Set aside for 15 minutes. The idlis would have soaked sambar by now. Add more sambar, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.


  1. Oh I love this combo!So good

  2. Sambar Idli is my all time favorite breakfast !! Looks appetizing!!

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  3. My favorite. Yours look so yummy.

  4. This is mouthwatering... Got me hungry...

  5. Lovely it looks amina.

  6. Love this on any day...looks very yum

  7. i m so fond of idlies ameena love them to the last bite and yours look fab

  8. Love this with loads of ghee.. Yummy

  9. Kids wud love this so much..

  10. Amina Ji, I'm hungry right away after looking at it and there are no moulds with me for idlis...what do I do now?? :(((((((((
    Maybe after I'm back in Bangalore....m highly tempted with those bright colors. :)

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  11. Mini idlis are my daughter's favourite breakfast meal! they look very tempting and delicious.

  12. Nicely explained recipe n tempting too,Amina!!

    Erivum Puliyum

  13. yummy... yummy... yummmy. I can have this combo for breakfast, lunch, with tea in the evening and also for dinner.. Its too tempting to see these pics....

  14. Perfect breakfast! Looks cute! :)

  15. hi amina, nice pic, looks yum. sambhar is quite popular this time around huh. have a nice day

  16. Yum yum,feel like finishing that whole platter, my fav mini idlis..

  17. Wow, this seems like it would take a while to make, but looks well worth it!
    It looks scrumptious!

  18. really healthy n yummy one.looks nice.all time fav..

  19. They look very cute and delicious.

  20. very comforting dish..would love to grab that inviting you to the kerala kitchen event at my space

  21. mini idles are so tasty & mom made ones are way too good.. thanks for linking:)

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  22. Very healthy and yummy breakfast. Thanks for linking my event.

    Cuisine Delights

  23. Comforting and tastier mini idlis.. love this combo and thanks for the entry to the event.

    Kitchen Chronicles ~ Heirloom Recipes


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