Mini Idli ‘n Sambar


Mini Idli and Sambar is a killer combination. I had never seen mini idlis till I came to US and went to Saravana Bhavan with my colleagues. As an appetizer they ordered the 14 piece mini idlis and I thought I wouldn’t like it. But to my surprise, I loved it. The small idlis looked so cute. And when served with a bowl of delicious sambar and ghee, mouth is watering already 😛 Ever since, I have always ordered this appetizer when I go there.

Though I had bought idli plates, I had never used it. To be honest, I wasn’t a great fan of idli ever. I always thought it is to be eaten only when you are sick 😉 But now, I wanted to buy mini idli plates. I went around all the Indian grocery stores and finally got what I wanted. Though I am not a fan of idli, I somehow like mini idlis 🙂 But you should get your idlis right. It should be soft and fluffy. If it is hard, then it won’t taste good.

See my post on Idli to get those perfect soft idlis. I have seen, with idli and dosa batter, many people use many variations to get it right. I also had to go through some experiments, to finally get my perfect batter. Whatever method you follow, as long as it works for you, thats all that matters 😉



Idli Batter – as needed
(click for Idli batter recipe)
Sambar – as needed
(click for Sambar recipe / click for Palakkadan Sambar recipe )
Ghee – 1 tsp


1. In steamer, keep some water for boiling.
2. Grease the mini idli plates with oil.
3. Using a spoon, pour/drop the idli batter into the moulds. Stack the plates.
4. Once the water boils, lower the idli plates into the steamer and steam it for 4-5 mins.
5. Once ready, let the idli cool down a little. Using a knife or sharp spoon, scoop out the idlis into a plate.
6. In a bowl, take hot sambar and add ghee into it.
7. Before serving, put the mini idlis into the sambar bowl.

Serve hot!



Sambar is one of my all time favorites. So is it for DD 🙂 From my childhood, this is one thing that I have consistently liked. Usually in my home, mom mostly prepares Palakkadan Sambar. Taste-wise, no doubt I like that better, but when it comes to ease of making it, the regular sambar is the best. Especially because I just make it all in one shot, in pressure cooker. There would be rarely any South Indian family that doesn’t have sambar atleast once a week 🙂 These days, things are a little different though, specially when you are in other countries 😛

Though there are various curries that could be used with rice like rasam, moru, dal etc. etc., according to me, there is no replacement for sambar. Till I met people from other states, I was thinking that Sambar is made of assorted vegetables and thats the only way it could be made. But from friends and colleagues, I came to know that they make Drumstick sambar, Raddish sambar, Okra sambar etc. Its individual preference, but atleast the place I come from, Sambar is a lovely combination of lentils and all kinds of assorted vegetables. The aroma of sambar can awaken your pallets. The best part is that it is such a healthy dish to have. I don’t know why I didn’t post this recipe earlier 😮


Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Toor dal(yellow dal) – 1 cup
Shallots – 4-5 nos
Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
Tamarind – 1 inch sized ball
(If you are using tamarind extract – 1 tsp)
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 3/4 tsp
Sambar powder – 1 heaped tsp
Tomato – 1 no, cubed
Assorted vegetables cut lengthwise:
Carrot – 1/2 no
Drumsticks – 1 no
Green Beans – 9-10
Raw banana – 1 no, small sized
Baby brinjal – 2 nos
Salt – to taste (apprx. 1 tsp)
Coconut Oil – 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilli – 2 nos
Curry leaves – 2 strands
Coriander leaves – 3 strands


1. Soak toor dal in water for sometime, say 30 mins. Boil it in cooker and give 3 whistles. Mash the cooked dal to form a thick smooth paste.
(For those who do not know how much quantity of water to use to boil the dal, use 1:1.5 ratio of dal vs water)
2. Soak the tamarind in warm water for few mins and extract the tamarind juice.
3. In the same cooker, to the dal, add shallots, asafoetida, tamarind, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, sambar powder, tomato, all the cut vegetables, 1 spring curry leaves and salt. Add 3-4 cups of water also.
4. Close the pressure cooker and cook sambar in high flame. After 2 whistles, keep in simmer/low flame for 5 mins.
5. Once all the steam escapes, open the cooker and mix the sambar well. At this time, you can adjust the consistency of the sambar by either adding more water or boiling it for some more time to make it thicker.
6. In a pan, heat coconut oil. Add mustard seeds, let it splutter. Then add broken red chillies and curry leaves to it. Switch off the stove and add this tempering to the sambar.
7. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves and sambar is ready in no time.

Serve with Idli / Mini Idli / Dosa or rice!