The super spongy mini idlies, the spicy murungakkai vengaya sambhar and all that ghee playing its part in pampering our taste buds..Am I in Kovai Annapoorna Gowshankar??? Voila!!
But the fact is, this restaurant style dish is no big mountainous task, and is such a simple yet sumptuous dish you can put forth in a jiffy if the idli batter is ready in hand!
Going on to the recipe:
There are a thousand expert ideas on making the idli batter and equal amount of contradictions too!
Well this is the what I follow(mom's recipe) to make the batter and yield good results.
You can use any recipe of your choice for the batter, but the end result has to be good!
Here it goes:
Ingredients for the Idlis:
Idli rice- 3 and 3/4 Cups
Raw rice- 1/4 Cup or little less
Urad dhal/ Muzhu ulundhu- 1 Cup
Fenugreek seeds/ Vendayam/Methi seeds- 1 Tbsp
Salt - roughly 1 Tbsp or as per your taste
Small idli size mould for making the idlis
A handful of beaten rice (poha/aval/ avalakki) or cooked rice is optional
A wee bit of luck too for the good fermentation of the batter!!
1.Wash the idli rice and raw rice well and soak them in water for about 5-7 hours.Same thing with the urad dhal and methi seeds but soak only for 45 mins to 1 hour. Do not soak urad dhal for long.
2.Grind the soaked urad dhal and methi seeds first into a silky satiny batter using minimum water.
3.Next grind the soaked rice into a fine batter ( a little coarse is ok or preferred in fact).
4.Cover well and keep the batter in a warm place overnight or for 6 hrs depending on the climate of the place you live. Do not forget to keep the batter in a big container so that it can hold the raised batter quantity after fermentation.I usually place a plate underneath the container to hold the batter in case it overflows and spills once it has risen.
5.Once the batter has fermented well and has risen, make idlis right away or store in the refrigerator till it is ready to be used. If storing the batter in the fridge, take only the required quantity of batter for the idlis in a separate vessel and leave it at room temperature at least for half an hour before making idlis.
6.Grease the idli moulds and for mini idlis grease the small idli mould and spoon in the batter and steam for 7-8 minutes until the idlis are cooked.
Ingredients for the Sambhar:
Traditionally minis idlies taste best when served with chinna vengaya sambhar or pearl onion sambhar. But any other sambhar like murungakkai sambhar or onion tomato sambhar would also do the needful justice!
There are again a thousand versions especially for a restaurant style sambhar, but this is my version of the sambhar and the taste was more than satisfactory and way better than any restaurant sambhar I have tasted so far!
Murungakkai / Drumstick- about 10-15 pieces
Onion- 1 Medium cut into thin strips
Tomato- 1 Medium chopped into 4 pieces.
Toor dhal/ Thuvaram Paruppu- 1 Cup
Tamarind- a small lemon size diluted with 1 Cup of water
Oil- 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Asafoetida/ peringayam/ hing- 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilly-1 no.
Curry leaves- a sprig
Chopped cilantro- a handful
Channa dhal- 1 Tbsp
Fried gram dhal (split dalia or pottukadalai)- 1 Tsp
Poppy seeds- 1/2 Tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 Tsp
Coriander seeds- 1 Tbsp
Fenugreek seeds- 1/2 Tsp
Dry red chillies- 4-5 nos.
A small piece of cinnamon (optional)
Pearl onions - 5 nos. or Garlic - 2 cloves (use pearl onions for pearl onion sambhar and garlic for other sambhar)
1.Cook toor dhal with water and make it into a fine paste using the back of the ladle or a hand blender.
2.Soak tamarind in warm water and extract the juice and set aside.
3.Roast the ingredients for the masala (except garlic or pearl onions if using) in a little oil and grind them into a fine paste using little water.
4.If using fresh drumstick, wash and cut it into finger size pieces. If using frozen, wash the pieces in warm water and thaw it a little.
5.Heat oil in a pan and throw in the mustard seeds,dry red chilly, hing and curry leaves. Add the onions and saute till they are soft.
6. Add the tomatoes and drumsticks next with some salt and turmeric and cook for 5- 8 minutes with the lid closed. If using fresh drumstick, add a little water as it will be very hard, frozen ones don't need water to cook.
7.Once the veggies are cooked, add the tamarind water and cook for five minutes till its raw smell is diffused.
8.Add the ground masala paste and let it cook for a few more minutes and then mix in the cooked dhal and let everything boil for a few minutes till the flavors combine. If the sambhar is too thick add a little water to dilute it.
9. Switch off the heat and garnish with the chopped cilantro and let the sambhar sit for a few minutes.
10. For the Ambassador idiles, arrange the idlies in a bowl and pour the sambhar on it and some ghee on top.
Note: The tempering can be done either in the beginning or at the end as you wish. I do it in the beginning in order to save time.