Idli Sambar with Coconut Mint Chutney

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.  -John Gunther

Idli Sambar with Coconut Mint Chutney
This recipe always makes me smile when I make it, more so because of the memories around it.  Idli is a soft rice cake that is a very popular breakfast food in Southern India. This was the first recipe that my MIL passed on to me after Hubby Darling and I got married. I was thrilled at the fact that when I cooked it for the first time, he told me it tasted just like his Mom’s… score!
When I was younger and my Mom would make Idli, I would always ask her if she didn’t feel like cooking (Idli takes 15 minutes to steam so when you are a kid you think “eh, no effort”)…. *laughs* when I think back now that was probably a horrible thing to say, but it was probably because I preferred it’s crispier cousin, the dosa (recipe to follow later). Well karma has a funny way of working out and wouldn’t you know it years later I married an Idli lover!! To top it off, when Hubby Darling and I went to India to visit family after getting married there was a time where we were served Idli for breakfast several times in one week.  He was in idli heaven! I on the other hand remember telling him “if you don’t feed me something else, I’m going to turn into an idli.” Looking back now, we laugh about it especially since I make it pretty often for him on the weekends.

Idli Sambar with Coconut Mint Chutney

Idli is often served with Sambar (A yellow lentil and vegetable stew) and Coconut Chutney. This my version of the Idli, Sambar recipe I learned from my MIL. I added a twist to my coconut chutney and incorporated mint to make it light and refreshing.

Idli Sambar with Coconut Mint ChutneyIngredients:

1 1/2 cups white rice
2/3 cup urad daal (white lentils)
1 tablespoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
oil for greasing

Coconut-Mint Chutney:
1/2  cup grated coconut
2 tablespoons of chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 small green chilies
5-6 curry leaves
1/8 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of oil

1 cup toor daal (yellow split lentils)
3 cups water
1/3 cup tamarind pulp
1 large semi boiled potato, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup saragawa (drumsticks)
1/2 cup mixed vegetables
6-7 curry leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
3 dried red chili peppers
3 tablespoons of grated coconut
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder

Idli Sambar with Coconut Mint Chutney


For the Idli – Wash and soak the lentils for 2-3 hours. Wash and drain the rice. Grind the lentils and rice in a blender until the mixture is smooth and frothy. Mix the salt and baking soda and set aside in a warm place overnight for fermenting. Idlis are ready to be cooked when the batter is well fermented. Grease the Idli maker and fill them 3/4 full of batter. Steam cook idlis on medium-high for about 15 minutes or until firm. Use a large metal spoon to remove the idlis.

For the Coconut-Mint Chutney – Grind the coconut into a fine paste in the food processor. In a small pan, heat the oil, once hot add the mustard seeds, curry leaves,  and green chillies. Fry until the chilies start to sputter. Remove and add to the coconut paste. Add salt and chopped mint, mix well.  Chill and serve.

For the Sambar – Pressure cook the yellow split lentils in a saucepan with 3 cups water (one whistle should be enough, make sure lentils are soft.) Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat, and add the mustard seed, cumin seed, curry leaves, turmeric powder, and asafoetida powder. Once the mustard seeds start to sputter and the mixture is fragrant add the onions. Once the onions turn translucent add the potato, tomato, drumsticks, and mixed vegetables. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes or until vegetables are slightly cooked. You don’t want to cook them too long otherwise they will become mushy later. Meanwhile, grind the coriander seeds, coconut and chilies to a paste using a mortar and pestle or food processor. Add this paste to the vegetables along with the tamarind pulp. Once mixed, add mixture to the lentils and bring to a boil for 5-10 minutes. Serve hot.


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