Mini Idlis in Sambhar

Idli-Vada-Sambhar…who doesn’t enjoy this heavenly combo for breakfast? I can eat them anytime of day, anytime of year. When it comes to breakfast, this is my perfect idea of comfort food. And its healthy too (sans the vada of course!).This Sambhar is specially for Jennifer Kumar. Though I’d promised to email her the recipe long back, I thought giving her a pic to drool at would make it even better, what say Jennifer? 😉 Hope you enjoy this one.

This is not the regular sambhar which I make for lunch/dinner. It’s specially made only to go with Idlis, ala Udupi hotel-style. For my Idli batter proportion, check here.


  • Tur Dal – 1/2 cup
  • Onions – 2 nos (large-sized; julienned and halved to a shorter length)
  • Tomatoes – 3 nos (large-sized; cubed into 1/2″ pieces)
  • Curry leaves – a sprig; finely chopped
  • Coriander/Cilantro – a handful; finely chopped
  • Tamarind puree – 1/2 cup
  • Rasam powder – 2 tbsps
  • Salt – to taste
  • Jaggery – 1 tbsp
  • Oil – 1 tbsp

Note: You could replace the onions with shallots or pearl onions. They make this sambhar taste even better!

To grind together:

  • Freshly grated coconut – 1/2 cup
  • Onion – 1 no (large-sized; cubed)
  • Jeera/Cumin seeds – 2 tbsps

For the tempering:

  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida – a generous pinch
  • Ghee – 1 tsp


  • Pressure cook the tur dal and tomatoes together (with adequate water), till the dal is softly cooked and set aside.
  • In a wok, heat 1 tbsp oil and saute the onions on a medium flame till they are cooked tender.
  • Add the tamarind puree, rasam powder, salt and jaggery. Also add the curry leaves and coriander, and let it boil on a medium flame for 15-20 minutes (A lovely aroma will fill the kitchen and the entire house by now, and your tummy will start preparing for the treat that will ensue soon!).
  • Mash the cooked dal+tomato mixture and add to the wok. Let boil another 10 minutes. Add adequate warm water to adjust the consistency.
  • In the meanwhile, grind together the ingredients mentioned (for grinding) to a smooth paste, with adequate water.
  • Add the ground paste to the sambhar and let it boil on medium for another 5 minutes, or till you see a frothy surface on the top.
  • Prepare the tempering and stir in.
  • Serve hot with idlis (and/or vadas) for that perfectly divine, South-Indian breakfast! To make it even more heavenly, drizzle some ghee on top and dig in!


20 responses to “Mini Idlis in Sambhar

  1. Wow!! Count me in too for this breakfast anytime!! And with ghee.. double yumm!!

  2. Man..I love udipi style sambar – love these kutti idlis. I remember eating these always in Sai Vihar where its served with some cut raw onions on top – crazy but awesome!

    Love it! Love it!

  3. Slurppp, those floating mini cuties makes me hungry….feel like having rite now..

  4. Yummy Madhuri. When I was browsing FB, my girls saw this picture and wanted me to click it. They said baby idly looks yummy amma:)

  5. hey these mini idlis look so cute..I will loose the count of it while eating..LOL

  6. Mini idli looks wonderful. Would love to dig into it now.

  7. Wow..It looks delicious. Can you send this over? It is breakfast time here.

  8. Looks very nice,mine sometimes turns soggy,and nice idea to use rasam powder,sure will try that!

  9. @Deepa: Thanks girl! Same here…most often than not, I end up over-eating the mini idlis 🙂

    @Jayashree: Thanks so much! And thanks very much for dropping by.

    @Radhika: Thanks much! I’d love to send them over. Check your mail a week later 🙂

    Raks: Thanks Raks. Do try it and let me know.

  10. suma venkatappa

    Hi Madhuri,

    I made this.. turned out delicious as I already told you.. but have a small suggestion, for cooks like me… it would be great if you could add the number of people that can be served,…. I am bad with that.. so thought would let you know….

    • Suma,
      Thanks for that testimonial. Im glad you guys loved it!
      As for how many people can be served using the proportions on the site, I’d say 2-3 people with a decent appetite. Since it is just the two of us living together, I mostly cook for 2 people, plus a little extra (to cater to the hubby’s voracious appetite). If you’re cooking for poor eaters, the proportions in most recipes should easily be able to feed atleast 3 persons. In our case, its one moderate eater (me), and one voracious eater (the hubby). Now, go figure!

  11. suma venkatappa

    should we saute the onions before grinding them?

  12. My search for the restaurant style sambhar ended here 🙂 The sambhar was really lip smacking 🙂

  13. vijaya narasimhan

    these mini idlis are really awesome when my children were small we use to make for a family of 10 including my inlaws and all others we use to loose count how much everyone ate this is the real enjoyment of joint family on a sunday morning breakfast

  14. Hi , I made ur recipe today for dinner for Guest @ home, they loved it so much … Thanks for the recipe.

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