Idli sambar recipe – A quick tiffin sambar recipe that goes good with South Indian breakfasts. You can enjoy this flavorful & delicious tiffin sambar with idli, Instant Rava idli, medu Vada, khara pongal, Crispy dosa and most other tiffins.
On most weekdays, we eat the typical South Indian breakfast like idli, dosa and pesarattu since they are high in protein and healthy as well.
Sometimes I make mini idli for dinner when the kids ask for it. This sambar along with the mini idli and ghee is one of my kids’ favorites.
There are few different ways a sambhar is made, one of them is the South Indian sambar which i shared before.
But today’s recipe is made in a very simple method using quick cooking veggies like shallots, carrots and beans.
Hence it doesn’t take much time to prepare and can be made even in the early morning.
I am also sharing how to make instant sambar powder just enough for this recipe. I always make this tiffin sambar with homemade powder.
Tips to make idli sambar
- The taste and aroma of a sambhar depends on the powder used. So if you like to use a ready powder, use one that has a good aroma. You can also make the powder from this sambar powder recipe.
- To make tiffin sambar avoid using veggies like brinjal, and bhindi as they lend a different flavor that doesn’t go well with idli or any breakfasts.
- Most hotels use pumpkin to make tiffin sambar as it lends a unique sweet flavor & thickens the sambar. If you have golden pumpkin just go ahead and add few cubes along with the dal to pressure cook. Mash them up very well along with dal.
- Most tiffin centers use a mix of tuvar and masoor dal to make idli sambar. I prefer to use toor dal and moong dal. You can experiment with these 3 kinds of lentils.
- I make the sambar powder the previous night as it saves some time in the morning.
- This idli sambar can be prepared just under 35 mins including cooking dal, making sambar powder and making the sambar. If you add veggies like drumsticks it will take longer.
Idli sambar or Tiffin sambar recipe
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
to roast & powder
- 1 tablespoon chana dal or bengal gram
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- ½ tablespoon urad dal or skinned black gram
- ½ teaspoon cumin or jeera
- ¼ teaspoon methi seeds
- 3 red chilies (adjust as needed)
- 2 tablespoon coconut grated fresh (optional)
other ingredients for idli sambar recipe
- ¾ cup dal or lentils (refer notes)
- 2 cups water to cook dal
- 2 tablespoon tamarind (use as needed)
- Salt as needed
- 12 to 15 shallots or sambar onions
- 6 to 8 beans
- 1 medium carrot
- ½ cup pumpkin cubed (optional)
- 1 large tomato ripe
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric or haldi
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves or cilantro with stalks chopped finely
- 4½ cups water (adjust depending on quality of dal)
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1 red chili broken
- ¾ teaspoon cumin or jeera
- ¾ teaspoon mustard
- 1 pinch methi or fenugreek seeds
- 1 pinch hing or asafoetida
How to make the recipe
Preparation for idli sambar
- Rinse and pressure cook dal with 2 cups of water for 2 whistles or until soft.
- Or alternately cook in a pot until soft. If using a Instant pot, pressure cook on high pressure for 10 mins & wait for natural pressure release.
- Mash it and set aside. If you like the hotel style tiffin sambar, you can also add pumpkin to the dal for cooking.
- Mash everything together and set aside.
- Soak tamarind in little hot water, squeeze and extract the pulp. Keep this aside.
making tiffin sambar powder
- In a pan, dry roast red chilies, chana dal and urad dal on a medium flame until lightly golden.
- Next add coriander seeds and roast all of them until a nice smell comes.
- When the dals turn deep golden remove to a plate.
- Next in the same pan saute methi seeds until slightly dark then add cumin.
- When the cumin turns aromatic remove to a plate. Cool these completely and make a fine powder.
How to make idli sambar
- Add oil to a pot and heat up. Throw in the cumin, mustard and methi.
- When they pop, add red chilies, curry leaves and hing.
- When the leaves turn crisp, set aside half the tempering if you wish to add at the end.
- Add veggies and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and saute until soft.
- Sprinkle sambhar powder and saute for a minute without burning.
- Pour water and cook until the vegetables are soft cooked.
- Next pour filtered tamarind and then the mashed dal. Stir and bring the idli sambar to a boil.
- Add the rest of the tempering and coriander leaves.
- When it begins to bubble. Switch off. You can also make a fresh tempering but I don’t do.
- Serve idli sambar hot with idli, dosa, uthappam, pongal & vada.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
If you are new to cooking, follow my detailed step by step photo instructions for best results.
Preparation idli sambar recipe
1. Pressure cook dal for 2 whistles or until soft. You can also add a piece of red pumpkin to the dal. When the pressure goes off, mash it well to very smooth. If using red pumpkin, mash that as well to smooth. That lends a unique sweet flavor that we often find in South Indian Hotels.
2. On a medium to low flame, dry roast red chilies, chana dal, urad dal until light golden.
3. Roast coriander seeds until they begin to crackle. Remove to a plate. Then add methi. Fry until the methi seeds turn slightly dark. Then add cumin. If using coconut you can add it now and saute for a minute. This time i did not have so i skipped it. Cool this and make a fine powder.
4. Soak tamarind in hot water, you can also use tamarind paste as needed.
How to make idli sambar
5. Heat oil in a pot. Add cumin, mustard, methi seeds. When they begin to splutter, add curry leaves and red chilies. Saute until the red chilies turn crisp. Add hing. I set aside half of this tempering to add at the end.
6. Add shallots, carrot and beans.
7. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
8. Add chopped or mashed ripe tomatoes, turmeric and salt.
9. Saute until the tomatoes turn mushy. Since they are fine chopped they get cooked fast.
10. Add sambar powder, saute for a minute without burning. this brings out the aroma of sambar powder.
11. Pour water and add a bit of jaggery. It is optional to use jaggery.
12. Cook until the veggies are soft cooked. Filter tamarind to the pot. If you do not like the flavor of tamarind, you can boil the sambar for a while before adding the dal.
13. Add mashed dal to the pot. Dal must be mashed completely. Mix and allow to bubble.
14. This step is optional. Add the tempering that was set aside along with coriander leaves. When the sambar begin to bubble, switch off the stove.
You may want to check this detailed recipe of soft idli. I usually make mini idli or the regular idli to go with this sambar. But this also goes well with other breakfasts like pongal, dosa, uthappam , vada .
Place the idlis in a deep serving bowl or plate. Add ghee and then pour the sambhar. Serve hot.