Saturday, December 31, 2005

Good-bye 2005...with a favorite dish!

The past few days, a knee injury has kept me out of commission, but I am healing slowly in time to say good-bye to 2005 with one of my favorite dishes. 2005 has been an eventful year, and 2006 promises to be even more so. To bid farewell to 2005, I chose Idli-Sambar. A meal that is nutritious, wholesome and affordable. Idli-Sambar is a traditional Southern Indian breakfast recipe, but now finds its way into homes all across India, and indeed Indian restaurants all over the world. The recipe for the idli is from my mom and we make no claims to authenticity, but it is a tried and tested recipe that always turns out!
The idlis themselves are steamed dumplings made from a fermented rice-lentil batter. They are served with sambar, a tasty spicy dal that I add lots of fresh veggies to. There are other reasons why this dish is a favorite for me: the idlis can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen. They reheat *beautifully* in the microwave and taste as good as new! The sambar can also be made ahead of time, making this an ideal brunch dish.
In fact, I had planned a New Years brunch for some of our friends today...with an international brunch menu including idli-sambar (India), huevos rancheros (Mexico), spinch-mushroom quiche (France?) and brownies (America). But the knee injury left me in so much pain, unable to stand for long, that I had to cancel the brunch :( Maybe next time...
For making idlis, you do need some special equipment in the form of idli molds, pictured here beautifully by Shammi. Of course, in a pinch, any greased vessel will do.


(The pretty red serving dish was a thoughtful holiday gift from my lovely friend L!)

For the Idlis
1 cup urad dal
2 cups idli rava (coarsely ground rice)
salt to taste
Non-stick spray (such as "Pam") for greasing molds
1. Soak urad dal overnight in warm water. Grind it to a fine paste.
2. Soak idli rava for 30 minutes in warm water.
3. Mix the soaked idli rava and ground urad dal in a bowl, cover and leave overnight to ferment.
4. Once the batter is doubled in volume, use it right away or place it in the refrigerator until needed.
5. To make idlis, spray the molds with non-stick spray (or brush with oil). Add salt to the idli batter, mix lightly and scoop into the molds (half-full).
6. Steam for 10-15 minutes till a knife inserted into the idli comes clean.

1 cup toor dal (split yellow peas), cooked
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
5-6 fresh curry leaves
pinch of asafoetida
1/2 small onion, minced
2 cups mixed diced veggies of your choice (I used eggplant, peas, carrot, cauliflower)
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp sambar powder (available in stores)
2 tbsp cilantro, minced
1. Make a "tadka" by heating oil and adding cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida.
2. Add onion, turmeric, salt, chilli powder and saute for a minute.
3. Add veggies and saute for a minute.
4. Add enough water to cover the veggies, tamarind paste, sambar powder and let the veggies simmer till just tender (5-7 minutes).
5. Add cooked dal, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Garnish with cilantro.

Here's to a wonderful new year 2006. My wish: a wholesome meal in every home on this planet and enough food and love for all!


  1. These look so good! Sorry to hear about your knee, Nupur- I have had knee problems in the past, and they are defintely no fun. Hope you are better very soon- and have a very Happy New Year.

  2. Get well soon Nupur ...happy new year to you. take care

  3. Sorry to hear about your knee. Happy New Year!

  4. Looks delicious Nupur! I've had Idlis a couple of times at my local restaurant, but I suspect they're much better homemade!

    I'm so sorry about your knee - hope you heal quickly. Have a very happy new year!

  5. Hi Nupur,

    I have been visiting ur blog for quite sometime now but this is the first time i am putting in a few words.

    Hope ur knee gets fine soon.

    Wish u a very happy new year :)

  6. Get well soon chef!, Wish you have a great 'knee'w year, 2006!

  7. Talk about bad luck... I've twisted something in my knee as well and it looks like a small balloon :( Here's hoping we both get better real soon, Nupur!

    Thanks for the tip about the idlis - I didnt know they could be frozen and re-heated and still taste good! Never tried before, but definitely will now.

    PS. Made "potato song" using your recipe yesterday and it was a smash hit with everybody, including my fussy brother-in-law's kids. :) Thanks!

  8. Oops... kids fussy, not the brother-in-law! :D

  9. hey nup,
    hope your knee gets better soon. Mine was like that last winter and a friend suggested voluntary retirement. Had to remind him that I havent started working yet.
    Amen to your wish gal, and a very happy new year to you, your folks and offcourse V and Dale.
    Take care.

  10. Nupur, so sorry about your knee. Best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery and happy new year to you, V and Dale.
    What happened? whatever did this to you, it's bad bad bad thing!

  11. I mean, how did the knee injury happened?

  12. Hi Nupur,
    I hope you get well soon. Happy new year to you.

  13. Hi Nupur,
    Sorry to hear about your knee. Hope you're feeling better now. I'd like you wish you a speedy recovery, as well as Happy 2006 to you and your family. May you new year be filled with health and happiness. :)

  14. Hi everyone, thanks for the good wishes. My knee is healing well and I am fine now :)

  15. Hi nupur,

    I tired your rava idly this weekend but it did not come out well the idly's were very soggy and watery. I just followed your recipe what mistake do u think i would have made. Any suggestions appreciated cause i have lot of batter left and tried to make some doses but dosas also did not come out properly dont want to waste the batter.



  16. Joe,
    I am sorry they did not turn out! I am almost sure that the reason was a batter that was too thin (watery). I was not able to convey the idea of how thick the batter should be :(
    I would suggest adding rice flour to the batter and then trying to make dosas.
    I am afraid that idlis are tricky to make, especially if you have not observed them being made before.

  17. Hi,

    We're organising an event for a charitable event.. and were wondering if we could use your idli sambar image. This is entirely non-profit.
    Do let us know.

    Thanks sincerely

  18. Vee- Please contact me using the contact form on the right sidebar to let me know exactly where/how you will be using this image. Then I'll be happy to give you permission to use it. Thanks.


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