Idli Siyali


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This dish is one of my earliest food memories. But until recently, I never knew what it was called. While growing up I always referred to it as “orange idli upma” or “gundu idli” (coz’ of the big chunks) or simply ” that idli thing you made when we went to the park”.  Then when I started to cook, this was one of my earlier trials(as you will see below, its quite a simple recipe),  I started calling it “Masala idli”, adding ‘masala’ to a food’s name makes it official, right ? 🙂 Recently, while I was browsing for something else, I stumbled upon this familiar recipe and figured out it is called “Idli Siyali”. After all, this has a name , that too such a sweet name. 🙂

  • This is usually made with left over idlis. Your idlis “must”  be in room temperature if not colder. Fresh idlis will lose form and crumble.

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  • Cut the idlis into big cubes, roughly 1 idli into 4 pieces.

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  • To make the masala, you will need 1 big red onion, 1 medium tomato and few curry leaves. Tomato and onion should be cubed , no fine chopping.
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  • In a pan/wok,heat 2 tbsp of oil (sesame oil, preferred), splutter a tsp of mustard seeds and fry a tsp each of urad dhal and channa dhal to golden brown.

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  • Saute the onions and curry leaves, Onions do not have to brown.

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  • Add the tomatoes. Sprinkle salt to sweat the tomatoes.

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  • Tomatoes do not have to soften too much. Add 1 tsp of turmeric powder, 3 tsp of sambar powder (add more or less as you wish) and some salt. If you do not have sambar powder, use 2 tsp of red chilli powder and 1 tsp of coriander powder. Let the powders mix with oil.

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  • Add about 1/2 cup of water. Water allows the sambar powder to cook fast. But don’t add too much water, as the gravy is going to be reduced to a thick paste anyways. Also add a pinchof vellam/jaggery/brown sugar.

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  • Allow the masala to boil thoroughly and reduce. When you see the oil separating , it is done.

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  • Add the cut idli pieces to the masala and mix it gently without breaking them.

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  • Sprinkle coriander leaves  and remove from heat.

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You can use boiled egg instead of idlis in this recipe to make a quick egg masala.

Another variation, is instead of using tomatoes ,you can also use tamarind juice.

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