Idli Vada Sambar - 3 in 1 Mini Tiffin

An innovative, scrumptious and soulful 3 in 1 traditional South Indian mini tiffin/ breakfast is a fulfilling feast in 1 bowl. The restaurant style traditional idli, vada and sambar all in 1 bowl, you can't find elsewhere😊. Get inspired to recreate for you and your loved ones.  

Idli's are vegan steamed rice cakes that are super soft and fluffy. Mini idlis well coated in vada batter and deep fried for crispness. These idli vada's are then dunked in piping hot Sambar ("Shree Annapoorna Sambar" a south indian chain restaurant style) and served along with coconut chutney and filter coffee. Click here for the "Shree Annapoorna Sambar" recipe from scratch.

Mark my word, this palatable and typical dish will knock your sock off when served to feast any day. The mini idli vada's can be made ahead and serve it with the flavorful hot sambar to steal the show as it can stand on its own. With no further delay let's get going with the recipe.

Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 195
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7 g11 %
Saturated Fat 1 g5 %
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 2 mg1 %
Sodium 139 mg6 %
Potassium 5 mg0 %
Total Carbohydrate 7 g2 %
Dietary Fiber 2 g7 %
Sugars 0 g
Protein 3 g5 %
Vitamin A4 %
Vitamin C1 %
Calcium5 %
Iron2 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
Idli Ingredients:
Idli rice - 4 cups
Urad dal / Black gram  - 1 cup
Sago/ Sabudana/ Javvarisi*- 2 tablespoons (optional)
Fenugreek seeds/ methi/ vendhayam - 1 tablespoon
Castor seeds - 4-5 nos*
Soy bean - 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Sesame oil for seasoning the idli moulds

Vada Ingredients:

Urad Dal - 1 cup
Green chillies - 2
Ginger - 1/4 inch
Salt to taste
Rice flour - 1 teaspoon (optional - used for crispness)
Coriander leaves - few 
Cumin/ Jeera - 1/4 teaspoon
Asafoetida -  1/8 teaspoon
Oil for deep frying
Water if required for grinding

Directions for Idli:

1. Rinse and soak idli rice and urad dal for 3-4 hours in two separate containers. In another small bowl soak fenugreek seeds, soybeans and sabudana*. 

2. Grind, methi, urad, soybeans and sabudana together along with castor seeds (peeled*) until smooth.
3. Transfer to a large container and set aside. Now grind the rice in the same until slightly coarse. Add required table salt or rock salt for 2 mins before you remove the batter in order to mix well. 

4. Transfer it to the Urad dal batter and fold in until incorporated well. Set this aside overnight (8-10 hours*) to ferment. Make sure you have enough space in the container for the batter to rise. 

5. Grease the idli moulds (plates) with oil and add required fermented batter and steam it for 10 minutes. Make sure your batter isn't too watery nor thick.

6. Steamed idlis are ready to to be removed. Allow the plates to cool for a minute or two. If in a hurry hold the plate using a mitten and put the bottom of the plate under cold running water. Dip your spoons in a cup of cold water and lift the idlis off immediately or save it to prepare the vada batter for idli vada sambar.

Vada Directions:
1. Soak Urad dal for 1 hour. Grind to a fine paste along with green chilly, cumin,  ginger, coriander leaves with less water as required. 

2. To this mixture add salt, asafoetida and rice flour. 

3. Heat required oil in a kadai or deep pan. Dip the cooked mini idlis and deep fry until golden brown.

3. Drain the oil and place it on a dry paper towel for the excess oil to be absorbed if any. 

4. You have Idly Vada ready to be dunked in Sambar.

5. For plating in a deep bowl fill with Sambar (click here for "Sree Annapoorna Sambar" recipe) and drop the  idli vada's in it. Serve immediately with chutney and filter coffee to relish this mini tiffin thoroughly!

Notes and Tips for Idli:

  • Always wash and then soak the rice and urad. Do not wash after soaking, this gives better results.
  • Sabudana or javarisi is used for the white light and frothy batter that results in moist white and soft idlis. Some sabhudana's don't soak very well, if so grind the dry sabudana in  mixer/ blender to fine powder and add to the urad batter. You may substitute sabudana with leftover cooked rice 1/2 cup or poha (but lacks white color).
  • Castor seeds must be peeled else it will cause indigestion. Use a pestle to give it a whack to peel the skin off easily. Also note pregnant woman and  lactating mothers please avoid these seeds. 
  • During cold climate, fermenting the batter can be challenging. I usually prefer to keep my batter in the oven with the oven light turned ON for overnight. The heat generated by this light is just right for fermentation.
  • I like my idlis to be made fresh exactly on the same day the batter ferments. Although it can be made after refrigerating the batter for the next two days. Always fold in the batter and use the top layer for idlis and the bottom for dosas. 

 Notes and Tips for Vada:
  • Make sure the oil is just the right temperature to avoid oily vada's. I like to drop a tiny vada batter to check if it rises immediately. 
  • Always keep the oil in medium heat not too high. these idly vada's are cooked on the inside completely. Hence they can be deep fried in no time. 

Notes and Tips for crispy Dosa/Roast:
  • I use the same batter for dosa as well. For crispy dosa always have the heat on high and sprinkle water to sizzle. This brings down the dosa tawa to the right temperature. Wipe off the excess water if necessary with a paper towel or clean cloth. I don't like to flip my dosas, so I cook it uncovered with generous amount of oil or ghee. Although I mix them both equally in a cup, ghee is for the taste and aroma of the dosa and oil to cut down fat. 
  • After flipping reduce the heat to medium-high and give it extra time to crisp for a crunchy roast/ dosa. 
  • If your tawa is very dry or if the dosa is difficult to get off the tawa, rub the tawa with onion and grease it with cooking oil. 
Do try this delicious dish and drop in your feedbacks and suggestions in the comment box given below. Thanks for your time and support! Get inspired to create your version to enjoy :)


  1. Amudha, looking really great!!! mouth watering....Pictures did do lot of justice. Combination is just amazing!!! Keep it up my friend. I am sure it would have tasted amazing...this combo would have been best dinner combo for all the folks at home.......Absolutely fantastic!!!

  2. Thank much Kiru :) It was always on my mind, wanting to make this unique dish from the time it striked. Certainly a wonderful treat with just the right spice from sambar and the crispy idli vada's texture. We made it for an evening snack :)

  3. Unique and irresistible mini tiffin. Photos are tempting

  4. Such a mouthwatering delicacy . Want. Want Want

  5. Hey Sowmya, I'm sure you will relish it. Can't wait to cook for you. Visit me soon

  6. My hubs fav. He's gonna freak out when I show him this tempting dish.

  7. Oh really, my husband loved it too ;) Thanks Nava!

  8. Yummy and Mouth watering dish. Perfect combination 👌👍

    1. You bet! I would love to hear from you if you get a chance to try it.
      Thank you Deepa for stopping by :)

  9. Wow simply Superb. Love the pictures. So yummy and mouth watering. Perfect combination. Awesome👏👏

    1. Thanks a lot Priya! I would love to hear from you when you get a chance to try this recipe. :)


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