Mini Sambar idli or 14 idli sambar is a delicious dish that is very popular in Tamil Nadu. This is a family favorite and we order this whenever we visit Saravana Bhavan Hotel or any other Vegetarian Hotel. Due to lockdown we could not move out of our homes much, so I tried to replicate the taste of the Sambar idli at home. The Mini Sambar idlis came out awesome and everyone at home simply loved it. Nowadays I make this Mini Idli Sambar at least once a week for dinner as it is healthy and tasty and my daughter too likes it.

Here there are basically 4 parts in making the dish. One is preparing the Idli batter, the second is cooking the mini idlis in small idli moulds. The third is cooking the sambar. The final step is assembling the mini idlis in a bowl, adding a few ladles of Sambar and few tsps of ghee on top. And viola, Mini Idli sambar is ready to be served.

I usually make the idli batter a day earlier and store it in the refrigerator. I take out idli batter and keep it out for at least 2 hours and then make idlis using it. 

Let's move on to the recipe of making Mini Sambar idli at home.

For making the Idlis

2 cups idli rice (white khar rice)
½ cup urad dal
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 cup cooked rice (optional)
1/2 tsp soda
Salt to taste

For the sambar

1 cup Toor dal washed and soaked in water for about ½ an hour (1 cup =180 ml)
1 tomatoes chopped
1 drumstick cut into 1” pieces
1 medium length carrot cut into small pieces
¼ tsp turmeric powder
A lemon sized ball of tamarind
2 and 1/2 tbsp sambar powder
Salt to taste

To grind
1 tomato
2 tbsp coconut paste
2 tsp roasted gram
2 dry red chillies

For tempering
1 tbsp oil
3 tbsp ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
8 to 10 curry leaves
12 to 14 small onions (shallots) or 1 large onion sliced
2 to 3 whole red chillies 
Pinch of asafoetida powder
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds/ methi
1 green chilli
handful of coriander leaves


Step 1: Idli batter

  • Take white khar rice, fenugreek seeds and urad dal together in a large bowl. 
  • Wash twice with water, then add sufficient water and let it soak overnight or for 7 to 8 hours. 
  • Then add cooked rice and mix well.
  • Drain away the water and grind the mix in a mixer jar in small batches. 
  • Add some water and grind to a paste. (The paste should not be very smooth. A slightly coarse paste would do). 
  • Now transfer this to a large bowl. Gently mix with your hands and close a lid.
  • Set the batter aside to ferment for 5 to 8 hours depending on the climatic conditions of the place you live. By this time the batter would have increased in volume.
  • Take a ladle and give the batter a mix and then transfer it to an air tight container.
  • You can refrigerate it for later use.

Step 2: Preparing the idlis

  • When you are going to prepare idlis, take out the idli batter from the fridge at least 2 hours prior to making idlis, dissolve soda and salt to taste  in 1/4 cup of water and add this to the batter.
  • Mix well and keep ready. You will have a moderately thick batter. 
  • Take the idli stand and add a glass of water.
  • Then grease the idli mould with oil and pour the idli batter in the idli moulds using a spoon and place it inside the idli stand.
  • Close the lid and let it cook in steam for at least 15 minutes in medium flame.
  • Carefully open the lid and take out the stand. Sprinkle water on top of the idlis and wait for at least 5 minutes.
  • Dip a spoon in water and use it to remove the idlis one by one. The idlis will easily come out of the mould.

Step 3: Preparing the Sambar

  • Wash and soak the tamarind in 1 cup of warm water for 5 minutes. Then extract the pulp and throw away the residue.
  • Now pressure cook the toor dal with a pinch of turmeric powder and 3 cups water for 4 to 5 whistles and keep ready. When it cools down, grind to a smooth paste.
  • Grind the the tomato, coconut paste, roasted gram and dry red chilli in a mixer jar and keep this ready as well.
  • Now take the carrots, tomatoes and drumstick in the same pressure cooker and pressure cook with 1 and 1/2 cup water for 1 or 2 whistles.
  • Once done, open the lid, and add sambar powder and boil for 3 to 4 minutes. 
  • Then add the grinded paste and boil again for 5 minutes.
  • Now add the cooked Dal paste and tamarind pulp, sufficient water and bring everything to a boil.
  • Add salt and let it boil for about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat another pan, add 1 tbsp each oil and ghee, then add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, dry red chillies, green chilli, asafoetida and curry leaves.
  • When the seeds have stopped sputtering, add onions and saute till the onions turn golden.
  • Add this tempering to the cooked Sambar and mix well. 
  • Add coriander leaves and 2 tbsp ghee. 
  • Check for taste, add salt if necessary.
  • Switch off the gas.
  • Our Sambar is ready.

Step 4: Assembling

  • Take a serving bowl, add 14 mini idlis and pour hot sambar on top. Add few spoons of ghee and coriander leaves and serve hot.

Do try out the recipe at home and let me know your views in the comments below. Stay tuned for more amazing recipes. Thanks for visiting!

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