Let me introduce you to Idli-Samar, the “Burger & Fries” of Indian food.


A heart meal for a Family Brunch

I know it doesn’t look or taste anything close to burger and fries but trust me; I have my reasons for comparing the two. Nachiket says I have an obsessive need to find similarities and compare things which are not even remotely related. But, I call it a coping strategy. If I can find similarities between the new concept/place/idea and the existing one in my head (with which I am as familiar as with the back of my hand), does it not make understanding & accepting the new one that much more easier??

Read these features about burger & fries and notice that they are all characteristics of idli sambar too:

a)      The most easily available meal, around every other corner– Check!

b)      Kid Friendly – Check!

c)      The cheapest yet, filling meal available- Check!

d)      Go hand in hand and can almost not be eaten by themselves – Check!

What do you say? Eh? Idli-Sambar, the new burger & fries of Indian food! 😀


Since this is a two-component dish, I am going to make it a 2-part thing giving you the recipe for one component at a time. First, the sambar.


The sambar powder can be home made and preserved or store bought or freshly prepared every time. The choice is yours.

PS: I shall post the recipe for idli soon and link it with this for your convenience

Recipe for Sambar


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 2-3



    For the Spice powder (Can substitute store-bought)
  • 1 tsp Coriander seeds (Dhaniya)
  • 1 inch cinnamon (Dalchini)
  • 1 petal of star anise
  • 8-10 dried whole red chilies
  • 1/4 cup dried coconut flakes (can be omitted)
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  • For the Sambar/ Stew
  • 1/4 cup Split pigeon peas (Toor Dal)
  • 1 cup pearl onions
  • 1 cup diced vegetables (optional)
  • 2 tbsp tamaring pulp (I use Maggi tamarind sauce)
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro (coriander)
  • For Tempering
  • 3-4 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp asafoetida
  • 2 cups diced tomato
  • Salt to taste


  1. Dry roast all the ingredients for the spice powder until golden and the aroma of the roasted spices spread through the air.
  2. Grind into a fine powder. This can be stored in airtight container for a span of 6 months. Or you can use store bought sambar powder and skip this step altogether.
  3. I like using freshly ground spices. So, this recipe calls for quantities just for a one-time use.
  4. Meanwhile cook the lentil (dal), vegetables and pearl onion till the lentils turn soft. I use a pressure cooker. This can be easily dome using a microwave or a crock-pot.
  5. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and cook till they crackle.
  6. Add the asafetida, curry leaves and diced tomatoes.
  7. Cook till the tomatoes turn mushy. Add the spice powder and salt. If using store bought, add about 3-4 tbsp of spice powder.
  8. Cook for 1/2 a min and transfer the tempered mixture into the cooked dal mixture.
  9. Mix well. Add more water if required depending on the consistency you like. Adjust salt again.
  10. Add the tamarind pulp and boil for about 3-5 min.
  11. Turn off, Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with steaming hot idli or rice.

My Take:

The vegetables are optional. The conventional sambar hardly has any.

The quantity of lentils changes the consistency of the sambar and hence the taste. Find your balance.

Yummily Yours’


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  1. hello…
    For the very first time i saw your website i was very happy .
    I am following your receipes .

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