Arachuvitta Sambar for Idlis

Idli being a staple breakfast and dinner at home we never get tired of it (do I kid myself? every other day I complain) but not really on the idlis but on the side dish we make. The usual ones are the coconut chutney, tomato chutney, onion chutney or the humble idli milagai podi. Some time this very simple podi too can spike the more so plain idlis.

Occassionally atleast once in a week or two I make this arachuvita sambar to make idlis a celebration. I have not done justice regarding the photos as posting the sambar without idlis are totally bad. But will promise that I will update once I make it again. But the mini idlis or pieces of idli floating in a bowl full of this sambar and a drizzle of ghee is a definite treat that too for a Sunday morning.

After bathing and feeding the two kids and my late morning bath on a Sunday I would settle with this bowl full in the balcony with my favorite Tamil weekly. And that calls for a perfect weekend 😉

The primary ingredient of this is the sambar onions or shallots and hence if that is not available please please do not substitute with the large onions. Wait till you get the little ones and make this. I can never give my word for the taste front if there is a substitution !

Ingredients :

Toor dal cooked – 1 Cup (If you have the water cooked along with it reserve it)

Tamarind – 1 small lime sized (soak it in 1 Cup of water)

Sambar onions/ shallots – 20 nos (peeled and washed)

Sambar powder – 1.5 teaspoon

Tomato chopped – 3/4 cup

Peanut oil – 3 T spoon

Coriander leaves for garnishing – 1 handful

For the paste :

Coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon

Coconut – Freshly grated 1/4 cup

Red chilly – 3 nos

How to make it ?


In a thick bottomed wide skillet heat 1.5 T spoon of peanut oil. Once it is smoking lower the flame to medium and add the shallots (don’t chop them unless they were more than of 1 inch size). Fry till the outer layer starts wilting and about to peel off. Now add the chopped toamtoes and saute till they become soft. Add the Sambar powder, cooked toor dal and enough water to make it to a desired consistency. It should be like a thick soup. Add salt to taste and cover and let it boil for 7-10 minutes. In the mean time squeeze the tamarind with the water and extract the pulp. Filter it using a colander and reserve the extract. When the dal mix was boiled for the said time add this extract and let it boil for another 5 minutes. In the mean time in a separate thick bottomed vessel heat the remaining peanut oil and when hot add the coriander seeds and fry till you get a nice aroma. Add the chilies and fry till they turn crisp. Add the coconut and fry till the coconut starts browning. Switch off the stove and let this cool. Take it in a stone grinder or a mixie and grind it to a coarse paste with very little water. Add spoon by spoon by listening to our mixie’s sounds.

When the sambar is boiled after adding the tamarind extract for 5 mins. add this round paste and mix well. Let this boil for 2-3 mins and add a handful of chopped coriander leaves and switch off the stove. Cover vessel immediately.

Laddle the sambar in a large soup bowl. Float mini idlis or pieces of idlis. Drizzle a spoon of melted ghee and enjoy with a spoon ! Slurp 😉
This amount serves 3 very hungry people but at home where people drink a bowl full of sambar for just two idlis it would be enough for 2 persons having 4 idlis each 😉



9 comments on “Arachuvitta Sambar for Idlis

  1. I like idlis with the chutneys best, don’t like dunking it in sambhar 😉 Guess I am not a pro yet

  2. Now I am craving for some sambhar dunked idlis.

  3. Hello
    I was just searching the web for authentic tamilian recipies and I came across your site. I cannot thank you enough for doing this. Not only are you helping us tamils that are missing our home cooked food, but you are preserving our traditions and culture. I appreciate what you are doing a great deal. I have lost all my grandparents and elders in my family. I am often very sad and regret not having learned as much as could have from them. Sites like yours are a true joy and blessing. I thank you profusely for your efforts (so hard to do this when we are all busy).It is also a very pretty blog and I cannot believe that you are a beginner in photography because your photos are excellent. Again you have my heartfelt thanks.
    Please convey my gratitude and thanks to your Amma,the inspiration for your blog, as well.
    Many thanks Lena! I am so happy to hear that someone really likes my work!

  4. And also wishing you and your family a very HAPPY DIWALI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Wow….that’s an aromatic sambar….sounds flavourful too…

  6. Arachu vitta sambar is one of my favourites……your write up makes the combo sound delectable.

  7. Hello, I just discovered your blog and enjoyed it greatly. I would like to follow your recipes but I am in America and we use a different measuring system here. Can you pls tell me how much is your ‘cup’ when you measure a) liquid and b) dry ingredients?

    Like this recipe of yours asks for a cup of dal. So, how much would it be in grams or ounces?


  8. Hiiii happy new year to urs family…..i want learned this sambar i am very like this b’coz i want cook this in myown hotel pls ,,,,,,,if u have other dishes pls send to my id ,and i will try it ,,,,,,Happy new year
    thank you
    Glad that you like it Anil!

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