Let’s get started!
This recipe will require you to purchase a few supplies as viewed in this photo.
Living in Guatemala I had to purchase everything from Amazon.com and as it turns out after much research they had the best prices and quick shipments. Having said that if you are fortunate enough to live in an area with an Indian market you might find these locally and most likely for even less money!
Bottom line, it is worth the investment!
What You Need
Here is what you need to purchase prior to making this recipe as far as “hardware”:
- Idli maker! This is a simple stacking tray of idli molds. I purchased a fairly small size one that makes 16 idli and it fits into my stockpot really well and with room to spare. It is $17.09 at Amazon Prime and here is the link.
- Idli mix! I have now purchased this mix three times and it really is amazing! My last two arrivals from Amazon were “bug free” so please do not let my earlier review about the bugs distract you. This mix is really good and I have tried others. YES! I can make this from scratch however the machine required is over $200 and it takes a lot of time as idli is a fermented rice dish filled with amazingly good things for your body. Here is the link to Amazon for the mix, and at only $14.17 for a pack of 10 this really makes it a value.
- Sambar mix! Sri and I really enjoy this mix, however fair warning…it is spicy! This is easily altered by the amount of yogurt you use and the water when making the product. Remember for my recipe this is a base…here is the link. At $35 for a pack of 30 this might seem expensive, however each one pack makes easily enough for two meals and there are other options at Amazon to purchase as few as three bags if you don’t want to go for the full case initially.
While you are at Amazon you may want to also pick up two more items if they are not already in your kitchen:
- Dosai Mix! Imagine your favorite savory or sweet fillings rolled into a totally amazingly delicious lentil flour ‘crepe’. I am sharing my recipe for this in just a few weeks so if you are ordering, you may want to include these! Here is the link.
- Food Temperature Thermometer! There are a million reasons why this is a must and one of them is for my HOMEMADE Almond or Soy Yogurt without a yogurt maker! (I will give you this recipe next week!) Here is the link to the one I use, however they are all pretty much the same.
OK, lets cook!
Idli Sambar is a classic indian breakfast dish that is also used for many other meals. I love making the wonderful idli and getting creative with them. Try to think of them as wonderful, gluten-free dumplings that are light and fluffy.
Idli is fermented so carries with it a wonderful benefit of improved digestion and overall health. Made properly they are light and fluffy and Sri has been known to grab a hot idli, brush it with soy butter and walk away smiling!
First let’s put everything together and learn how to use it.
Large measuring cup and water where indicated
1 package of Idli Mix and a small wire whisk
1 package of Sambar Mix
1 cup of Toor Dal
(I also buy this at amazon. Here is the link
however it is most likely you can find this fairly easily.)
1 set of Idli trays…(this recipe makes 16 large idli)
Selection of vegetables to equal about 3-4 cups prior to cooking.
My personal favorites are: potatoes, carrots, tomato, celery and cauliflower
Serving Garnish & Flavor enhancer: Fresh Goat Yogurt and Fresh Mint leaves
Ready, Set, Cook!
This is actually a VERY EASY and QUICK meal to make. Once you get over any initial intimidation you will be delighted at how well this turns out.
Timing is the key so I have listed the steps in order so that everything times out together for serving.
Serves up to 8 people
- Wash the Toor Dal under water until it runs clear and then place into a large saucepan. Add 3 cups of BOILING water to the pan and turn the heat on medium high.
- Add your chopped vegetables to the saucepan and let everything boil for about 10 minutes then you can turn this down to simmer. Hint: use that 10 m inutes to prepare your idli trays described in step 3.
- Time to work with the idli mold trays. You will note in the photos below that the trays stack with a long threaded bolt that has a removable “handle” at the top. In the second photo I have removed the bolt and separated the trays which you must do prior to using. Also in this photo I am holding one of the stacking trays up so you can see that it has a smaller bottom riser. This is a middle tray.
- In the photo below, I am holding up the BOTTOM tray. This is the first tray you will fill as you prepare to cook your idli. If you have not used these before they can be easily tipped and spill your batter. If you simply fill them starting from the bottom while reassembling the trays you can avoid this.
- The trays must be lightly greased and I enjoy using Rice Oil however you can use any form of oil you enjoy. To insure that I do not use too much oil I first pour a small amount onto a paper towel and then wipe the mold. I also cover the rest of the tray so that removal is simple.
- It is now time to add the Sambar mix to your boiling water, dal and vegetables. Be sure to stir it in well or you will have clumps. Add another cup of water at this time as well. Simply open the pack, stir in and turn the heat down to simmer. This will produce some bubbling on the surface of the water.
- The sambar mixture needs to simmer for at least 30 minutes more, so this is the time I prepare my serving bowls and garnish. The purpose of this garnish is to fully expand the finished flavor and I miss this when we are out of it. By allowing the goat yogurt or any plain yogurt you enjoy to come to room temperature and mixing it with the mint leaves it takes on a wonderful aroma and flavor. I have shown you fresh mint leaves from my garden here, however for best results mince the mint leaves into the yogurt.
- Now it is time to prepare the idli! This mix makes things really easy and all you need is the mix, water a small whisk and I prefer a spatula that is more like a spoon. The rice oil in this photo is a reference for the idli molds and we are now done with this. Simply pour the mix into a measuring cup as seen in this photo and then add 1.5 times the amount of mix that was in your cup to the mixing bowl and stir with the whisk until “foamy”. If your mix in the cup was 1 cup dry than you added 1.5 cups of water to your bowl to mix.
- LET IT Sit…undisturbed for a full 10 minutes! IMPORTANT. Remember that this is a fermented food so this step cannot be rushed or compromised.
- During this 10 minutes prepare your pot to steam the idli. The water level should be high enough in your pot to not touch the bottom tray of the molds however sufficient for 20 minutes of steaming without running dry. In this photo I am showing you the amount in a pot that is actually slightly larger than needed. HINT: When I placed the trays in a smaller pot the water was not sufficient and I burned the pan!
- After 10 minutes you will notice that the idli batter has “risen” and has a lovely texture.
- It is time to turn on the water for the idli to start boiling and fill your trays as you carefully reassemble. Fill the bottom tray first, then start adding trays. As you add a tray you fill each mold to the top and you may want to hold onto the tray as you do so it does not tip.
- Once the trays are all filled be sure to screw the cap back onto the bolt so you can easily carry the molds by the cap. I place the filled molds into the pot just as the water begins to boil.
- Cover the pot tightly and steam for 20 minutes.
- The 20 minutes it takes for your idli to finish times with your sambar. Check on this often and stir. At this point it should start having some softening and blending of the vegetables and the dal. This is visible if you scoop it up as the top of the pot will still have mostly water bubbling.
- The sambar should be “cooking down” however if you feel you need more water you can add this if you like. Idli Sambar is an art form, so let your creativity flow.
- 20 minutes later you are Ready to serve! Carefully remove the idli molds holding by the black top of the mold! Remove the screw cap and unstack the trays. You will notice that the idli have transformed from a liquid batter to a lovely steamed patty. The top of the idli in the mold will have a slight shine to it however when you remove it using your plastic spatula you will find a delightful fluffy treat.
- After placing as many idli as you would enjoy into a pasta bowl, add a generous portion of your now perfect sambar!
- Garnish with a generous dollop of your yogurt/mint mixture and allow the blessing of a day at the ashram grace your heart and your spirit.
- Send a blessing to yourself for taking the time to learn and embrace this wonderful dish and enjoy!
If the sambar is too spicy for you, just add more yogurt and you can “thin”
the recipe by only adding ½ the package of Sambar to this recipe.