If there is any food combination in the world that every South Indian will equally vouch for, that is none other than the legendary Idli-sambar combo. On one side of the plate, we have the beautifully rounded, perfectly white, tasty little idili’s and on the other side we have the thick, heavily flavored, rich sambar that is good enough to give every food lover a run for taste.
One of the tastiest and easiest breakfast in the world, let’s take a look at how to prepare the ever-heavenly sambar that you can savor with idli made using store bought batter!
Cooking the lentils
1. Rinse the lentils well in fresh water and then add them in a 2 liter pressure cooker.
Add ¼ tsp turmeric powder and 1.25 to 1.5 cups of water in the pressure cooker.
2. Pressure cook the lentils till they are soft, mushy and well cooked for about 7 to 8 whistles or 11 to 12 minutes on a medium flame.
3. Mash the lentils with a spoon or wired whisk and set aside.
Making tamarind pulp
4. Take 1 tablespoon tamarind and soak it in ¼ to ⅓ hot or warm water for 20 to 30 minutes. Later squeeze the tamarind in the water and you get the tamarind pulp.
Preparing sambar powder
5. In a heavy small frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons of oil. Keep the flame to its lowest. First add mustard seeds. Mix and stir.
6. Add the remaining whole spices – coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper, chana dal (husked and split bengal gram). Mix and stir.
7. Afterwards, add 5 Kashmiri red chillies or 5 byadagi chilies (broken and seeds removed) and curry leaves.
8. Once the spices are roasted well, you can also add 2 to 3 tablespoons of fresh coconut or desiccated coconut. Keep aside.
9. Rinse and peel the veggies. Chop them and keep aside. You can use a mix of drumsticks, carrots, pearl onions, yellow pumpkin, radish, green beans, ash gourd, potatoes, brinjal (eggplant), okra etc. Keep aside
10. In a pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil first. Keep flame to a low or medium-low flame. Add the mustard seeds and let them crackle.
11. Then add the urad dal (husked and split black gram).
12. Then add quartered onions or pearl onions (whole or halved), curry leaves and asafoetida (hing). Stir and saute for 2 minutes on a medium-low flame.
13. Then add the chopped tomatoes. Next add veggies which take more time to cook like carrots, beans, potatoes, drumsticks etc. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes on medium-low flame stirring often.
14. Then add remaining quick-cooking veggies like brinjals, ladyfingers (okra), pumpkin etc now. Mix well.
15. Add the prepared tamarind pulp.
16. Add water and cover the pan and simmer on a medium-low flame until the raw aroma of the tamarind goes away and the veggies are almost cooked.
17. Add the ground sambar masala powder which we have already prepared earlier.
18. Add the mashed dal and mix well.
19. Stir and simmer without lid for about 6 to 7 minutes or till it comes to a boil. Then switch off the flame.
20. Meanwhile when you keep the dal for pressure cooking, you can steam idli. You can use a store bought batter for the same.
Enjoy your hot plate of steamy idlis and tasty sambar and kick start your day happily!