Idli Sambar- Rice cakes in Lentil Soup

Idli Sambar is one of the Universal foods that has made its impact globally. Traditionally a South Indian staple, Idli Sambar is now a known dish in all parts of India/world and no longer a madrasi( As all south India was Madras to us when we were small) Staple. While we were growing up, eating out was more coz of necessity than whim. My mom never said that I am bored to cook and I also need a break, today we will take out food from the restaurant. There were some meals that were only one pot meals, like khichadi, theplas or pithla-bhat. Pizza and Pasta and even soups were non existent, they were only introduced to us in mid-80's. There was  a time when we visited my uncle in Delhi. My cousin who was working at that time, had brought pizza's for us for dinner. That was my first time ever tasting  Pizza. Never before in my all those 8-10 yrs of life had I seen a Bread disc that big with goodies on top. How ignorant and naive were we to the cocoon my parents had woven around us. Exploring the world, food and travel came much later in our lives. We were a content middle class family of working class Bombay.

Restaurant was a HOTEL to eat in and there were some kid friendly menu's like Idli Sambar and Medu Vada dunked in Sambar. Whenever we went shopping we were bribed to behave and cooperate. If all went well, we were treated to a eat in at Hotel and mostly it was Idli Sambar for my brother and Medu Wada dunked in Sambar for me. As time went by , my mom started making them at home and we were allowed to have any number of these rice dumplings or cake or Idli. It was served with white coconut chutney also, but I am not great fan of coconut and so are my munchkins. So we kind of skip it altogether.

To make Idli;
2 cups rice or idli rava
1 cup Urad dal
2 tbspn Oil
Salt to taste

 Soak the rice and urad dal in water for 6-8 hours. If using idli rava skip soaking the rava; soak only the dal and then grind it fine into a smooth paste, use the water from the soaking if needed. remove this in a bigger vessel, then grind the idli rava or soaked rice and remove it in the same vessel as the grinded dal. Mix the grinded dal and rava with your hand. This is because the heat of your palms will help in fermenting the batter faster. Then cover this vessel and keep it in a warm place to ferment and rise up. Take  a bigger vessel and fill the batter only half way as the batter will rise and double in size. After the rising, add the oil and the salt to the batter and mix with a spoon. Grease the idli stand with some oil and steam these idli's for 10-12 minutes.

Enjoy the steamed idli's with sambar and chutney or make masala idli.

Making Sambar
For the exact recipe, you guys will need to order Pedatha's book from Pritya Books. But since I am so giving , I will post the recipe which I tweaked to suit our tastes here.

You will need;
1 Cup Toor dal, Boiled with little Turmeric and Hing and mashed well
1 small Eggplant, chopped fine
1 Onion
2-3 Cloves Garlic
1 Tomato chopped
1 Small Carrot
1 tbspn Tamarind Pulp-
**Soak a coin sized ball of tamarind in warm water for 10-15 mins and squeeze and use the pulp. Alternatively you can use the Tamarind concentrate but use about 1 Tspn a sit is really very tart.
1 tbspn MTR Sambar Powder
Salt to taste
Little Jaggery/Gur
1 tbspn Oil

1 Tspn Oil/Ghee
1 tspn Cumin/Jeera
Few Curry leaves

In a pot heat some oil, add the onions and the eggplant and the tomato and saute for a minute. Then add the Crushed garlic and  carrots and enough water to cover the veggies. After the veggies are fully cooked and mashed, add the Sambar Powder and salt and the Tamarind Paste. Lastly add the cooked dal and Gur and bring it to a boil. Simultaneously prepare the tempering. Heat the ghee in another pan, once hot, add the jeera and the curry leaves and then add this tempering to the dal mixture. Garnish with Cilantro and serve hot with Idli, Dosa or rice.

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