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Instant Pot Idli Sambar

Instant Pot Idli Sambar Recipe - Learn how to make quick and easy Idli Sambar in your Instant Pots. Kick start your day with a warm bowl of Idlis (soft & spongy rice cakes) dunk in a delicious bowl of Sambar (vegetable lentil soup). So comforting and soul soothing! Vegan. Gluten-Free.Video Recipe included.

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What is Idli Sambar?

If you already haven't relished Idli Sambar at an Indian household or an Indian restaurant yet, then this is a must try!

Idli Sambar are a typical South Indian breakfast that has become popular across the globe for it's soft spongy Idlis and lipsmackingly delicious Sambar. The Idlis are savory rice cakes that are steamed using fermented lentil and rice batter. Sambar is the tangy spicy vegetable lentil soup in which the Idli's are dunk.

Usually Idli Sambar is paired with either a green or white coconut chutney or the red chutney as seen in the picture. Lately it's been a staple at our home due to the 2020 Lockdown.

How to make Idli Sambar Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker?

Instant Pot Idli 

The soft spongy Idlis are made from steaming the fermented batter of rice and de-husked black gram in molds. Not everybody makes Idli batter at home, some buy ready batter from the store too. Making the Idli batter  at home is pretty easy. First the rice and lentils are soaked in water overnight. Then they are ground into a fine paste. Next you add water to the paste and turn it into a batter which needs to be fermented before being steamed into the molds.

The secret to making the best idlis lies in the idli batter. Thus we will shortly have a whole post sharing our tips and tricks to make the best idli batter ever. In the mean while we will use a ready batter which is either store bought (available at any Indian grocery store) or made at home.

How to make Idli in Instant Pot?

For this recipe, please use either a pre made or store bought idli batter. Make sure you check out the video recipe.

  1. Boil Water - Using the saute function, pour a cup of water in the inner pot and bring the water to boil.
  2. Grease and fill molds - While the water is heating, grease the idli molds with oil or ghee. Using a ladle pour the batter into the cavities of the idli steamer rack and assemble the rack.
  3. Steam - Place the rack inside the inner pot. Close the lid and do not seal the vent. Make sure the vent is is on venting position and using the steam function, steam the idlis for 10 minutes. Note - the steam function does not have a inbuilt timer so please use an external timer.
  4. Scoop the Idlis - Once the timer beeps after 10 minutes, manually release the pressure and carefully remove the idli steamer rack. Place it outside and wait for 5 minutes.  Using a sharp knife gently scoop out the idlis from the molds.
  5. Serve warm with Sambar and or chutney.

Instant Pot Sambar

Sambar is the lentil vegetable soup that is the perfect medley of all the flavors - savory, sweet, spicy, tangy and sour! Sure to tantalize your tastebuds. Sambar is prepared differently in different regions of India using different ingredients. Over the years I learnt multiple tricks from different people to make a lipsmakcingly delicious sambar, which I have shared in the tips below.

Sambar Ingredients

Note - This Sambar recipe calls for pantry staples and offers substitutes incase you are unable to step out during the 2020 Lockdown, like me :)  Below is just of list of the ingredients, the exact measurements are in the recipe card below.

  • Lentils - Toor Dal or Piegon Peas
  • Spices & Herbs - Homemade or store bought Sambar powder, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, dried red chillies, garlic, & curry leaves. I didn't have fresh curry leaves so used dried curry leaves. 
  • Flavor enhancers - Jaggery or sugar if you don't have jaggery handy. Tamarind pulp or kokum also known as dried mangosteen or even lemon juice if you don't have either of them handy. I didn't have  jaggery and tamarind pulp so I used kokum and lemon juice to bring out the tangy flavors. 
  • Vegetables - Typically the different veggies used in making are onions, tomatoes, carrots, drumsticks, okra, eggplant, french beans, bottle gourd or dosakai. I use whatever I have handy.
  • Coconut Milk, Water and Oil - Coconut milk is added to mellow down the spice and give the Sambar a creamy texture however it is optional. If you have it handy you can use it or else skip it entirely. 

How to make Sambar in Instant Pot (Pot in Pot Method)

Here is just a gist of the recipe, the exact measurements and details are in the recipe card below.Don;t forget to check out the video recipe.

  1. Gather and prepare all the ingredients - the lentils, spices, herbs, vegetables, oil, water etc. Thoroughly wash the toor dal and soak it in water while washing and cutting the vegetables. I used onions, tomatoes, carrots, drumsticks, french beans and bottle gourd. 
  2. Pot-in-Pot - Now throw in the toor dal and a cup of water in the inner pot. Using the stainless steel pot-in-pot stackable insert pans, add in the chopped veggies in one of the stackable inserts. Add a cup of water to the veggies too. Place a trivet in the inner pot and stack the stackable insert with veggies and water on the trivet. instant pot sambar recipe step instructions
  3. Pressure Cook - Cover the lid, seal the went and pressure cook on 'High Pressure' for 10 minutes, allowing natural pressure release. Note, it takes about 10 minutes for the pressure to build and another 10 minutes for the pressure to release.
  4. Mix the dal and veggies - Carefully open the lid. Using the pot handler remove the stackable pot and the trivet. Keep them aside. Whisky the toor dal to make the dal smooth. Add the sambar powder, salt, sweetener, and your choice of tang (tamarind pulp / kokum). Throw in the cooked veggies and water into the dal. Whisk it again to mix everything well.  Using the saute function, allow the flavors to assimilate until the toor dal starts boiling. Note - If you adding coconut milk, add it now and then bring it to boil.
  5. Temper - Take oil in a pan and bring it to heat. Add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, dried red chillies, minced garlic, and curry leaves. Once you hear the spices crackling, add the tempering to the instant pot, stir well and Sambar is ready to be served. If you want to add lemon juice for a little more tang you can do that now.instant pot sambar recipe step instructions

Tips for making Idli Sambar

  • Plan ahead - If plan to make a homemade batter plan ahead of time as the process of soaking and fermenting the batter takes a while.
  • Taste and texture - The taste and the texture of Idlis depends on how good the batter is, the rice to water ratio, the lentil to water ratio, how well the batter is fermented. The taste of the Sambar depends on the ingredients you add to it, the kind of sambar powder, the veggies the sweetener, the tang etc. Thus Sambar tastes different in different regions, homes and restaurants.
  • Pot-in-Pot - We love making sambar using the pot-inpot method as it's such a time saver plus you don't have to clean extra utensils and the veggies are cooked just right!

My Idlis don't turn out soft and spongy

As I mentioned before that the trick to make soft and spongy idlis is the perfect batter. The taste and the texture of Idlis depends on how good the batter is, the rice to water ratio, the lentil to water ratio, how well the batter is fermented. We will share a post on how to make your own idli batter at home soon.

Idli Sambar Serving Ideas

The best way to serve Idli Sambar is to serve piping hot Sambar with warm Idlis dunken in it. Or some like their sambar and idli seperate, pair it with a green, white or red coconut chutney and it's yum!

Is Idli Sambar vegan and gluten-free?

Yes! This recipe calls for using oil and is gluten-free too. 

Where to buy the Idli steamer rack or mold?

You can either buy the Idli steamer rack in an Indian Grocery store or order it online on Amazon. Click here to purchase mini idli stand

You can find more lentil recipes and rice recipes on the blog.

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idli sambar recipe

Instant Pot Idli Sambar Recipe

Yield: 4 servings

Instant Pot Idli Sambar Recipe - Learn how to make quick and easy Idli Sambar in your Instant Pots. Kick start your day with a warm bowl of Idlis (soft & spongy rice cakes) dunk in a delicious bowl of Sambar (vegetable lentil soup). So comforting and soul soothing! Vegan. Gluten-Free.Video Recipe included.

Ingredients

For Instant Pot Idli

  • Idli Batter (homemade or store bought)
  • 2 tablespoon oil 

For Instant Pot Sambar

Instructions

Instant Pot Idli Sambar Recipe


Instant Pot Idli Recipe

  1. Boil Water - Using the saute function, pour a cup of water in the inner pot and bring the water to boil.
  2. Grease and fill molds - While the water is heating, grease the idli molds with oil or ghee. Using a ladle pour the batter into the cavities of the idli steamer rack and assemble the rack.
  3. Steam - Place the rack inside the inner pot. Close the lid and do not seal the vent. Make sure the vent is is on venting position and using the steam function, steam the idlis for 10 minutes. Note - the steam function does not have a inbuilt timer so please use an external timer.
  4. Scoop the Idlis - Once the timer beeps after 10 minutes, manually release the pressure and carefully remove the idli steamer rack. Place it outside and wait for 5 minutes.  Using a sharp knife gently scoop out the idlis from the molds.
  5. Serve warm with Sambar and or chutney.

Instant Pot Sambar Recipe

  1. Gather and prepare all the ingredients - the lentils, spices, herbs, vegetables, oil, water etc. Thoroughly wash the toor dal and soak it in water while washing and cutting the vegetables.
  2. Pot-in-Pot - Now throw in the toor dal and a cup of water in the inner pot. Using the stainless steel pot-in-pot stackable insert pans, add in the chopped veggies in one of the stackable inserts. Add a cup of water to the veggies too. Place a trivet in the inner pot and stack the stackable insert with veggies and water on the trivet. 
  3. Pressure Cook - Cover the lid, seal the went and pressure cook on 'High Pressure' for 10 minutes, allowing natural pressure release. Note, it takes about 10 minutes for the pressure to build and another 10 minutes for the pressure to release.
  4. Mix the dal and veggies and flavor enhancers - Carefully open the lid. Using the pot handler remove the stackable pot and the trivet. Keep them aside. Whisky the toor dal to make the dal smooth. Add the sambar powder, salt, sweetener, and your choice of tang (tamarind pulp / kokum). Throw in the cooked veggies and water into the dal. Whisk it again to mix everything well.  Using the saute function, allow the flavors to assimilate until the toor dal starts boiling. Note - If you adding coconut milk, add it now and then bring it to boil.
  5. Temper - Take oil in a pan and bring it to heat. Add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, dried red chillies, minced garlic, and curry leaves. Once you hear the spices crackling, add the tempering to the instant pot, stir well and Sambar is ready to be served. If you want the sambar to be a little more tangy, add some lemon juice now.

Notes

Tips for making Idli Sambar

  • Plan ahead - If plan to make a homemade batter plan ahead of time as the process of soaking and fermenting the batter takes a while.
  • Taste and texture - The taste and the texture of Idlis depends on how good the batter is, the rice to water ratio, the lentil to water ratio, how well the batter is fermented. The taste of the Sambar depends on the ingredients you add to it, the kind of sambar powder, the veggies the sweetener, the tang etc. Thus Sambar tastes different in different regions, homes and restaurants.
  • Pot-in-Pot - We love making sambar using the pot-inpot method as it's such a time saver plus you don't have to clean extra utensils and the veggies are cooked just right!

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