Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Lava Idli (Sambar filled idli)

Savory lava cake; sambar filled idli is super delicious for breakfast or dinner. Super easy to make, this lava idli recipe will be a great variation from regular idli sambar! 



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Idli in any form is a favorite in our house. We enjoy it with chutney or sambar, fry the pieces of idli and serve with yogurt, convert them to upma or kaima idli and of course this lava idli. 

A popular dinner item, idli does make an appearance once a fortnight on our table.  

If you are a fan of idli like me, this recipe is definitely going to become your favorite. A savory version of lava cake; this is essentially rice cakes filled with sambar that comes out when the idli is cut.


Lava idli is a dish that is popular in restaurants and events. It can be made at home really easily. If you make idli with sambar and chutney, you SHOULD try this. It is the same idli sambar presented in a unique way! 

Still wondering what exactly is lava idli and how the sambar will get into the idli? Read on to find out. 



What is Lava Idli?


The BEST accompaniment for piping hot steamed idlis is sambar. When you can combine the two to make idlis that are stuffed with sambar; it definitely is a winner! 

Yes, just like chocolate lava cake; this is a savory form where hot sambar oozes out of rice cakes. Hence the name Lava Idli! 

The combination is perfect and the method to make it is simple; thanks to an easy technique.



Things needed to make Lava Idli


Now that you know what lava idli is, let us get to making it. To make these idlis there are a couple of things needed. 

First is a steamer. If you have a traditional idli maker with different plates like the one to steam, use that here. 

If you do not have that, a simple pan with trivet and steamer plate works too. I have used that to illustrate how to go about getting it right.

The Instant Pot or Mealthy Multipot will work perfectly for this recipe too. Just use the steam function to make the idlis. 


To make the idlis, the cavities in the idli stand are way too shallow for the sambar to fit in. So instead, we use silicone molds to make the idlis. Any deep containers or muffin molds will be great to use for this recipe. 

These are my favorite molds to use. They are great for tea time cakes as well as these idlis. 


Components of these Sambar Stuffed Idlis


The recipe for lava idli needs three elements; idli batter, thick sambar and a carrier for sambar. THAT IS IT! 


Idli Batter


If you have never made your own idli batter, I urge you to try it. 

With the abundance of appliances like a powerful blender to crush the rice and lentils and the Instant Pot or Mealthy Multipot to ferment the batter; there are barely any reasons for the batter to fail. 

This recipe using the instant pot will be handy to make your batter. 




Sambar


The next element is sambar. If you have a favorite recipe to make sambar, use that. However, you should skip adding large size vegetables in this as they will probably not fit in the idli. 

I kept the sambar simple by adding minimum vegetables. All the ones I added were chopped small. 

The sambar in this recipe needs to be thick. This is for two reasons; one that it should not spill out of the idli while steaming and thick sambar is more flavorful and a small amount is perfect to get the taste you are looking for. 



The carrier for sambar


If you are wondering how the sambar will get into the idli and remain there without mixing with the batter; the answer is puri! 

Once you have the idli batter and sambar ready, you need something to create a thin membrane between the two without interfering with the taste of either. 

The puri used in pani puri is a great thing to use here! Made from flour and semolina, it barely has any taste. 

However it is a perfect carrier for wet ingredients like the ones included in pani puri. An the size is such that it will fit into most molds very easily. And it is easy to find too. 

Make your own or buy it from the Indian store, both work equally fine here. 



What to serve with Lava Idlis?

While lava idlis are perfect to enjoy as is, they can be served with a lot of sides. 

The sambar used to stuff the idlis can be served with the idlis. It can be thinned out by adding some water. 

If you would like dipping sauces for the idli, make these one or more of these chutneys: Cilantro Coconut ChutneyRed Pepper ChutneySukha Coconut ChutneyTomato Onion Chutney

I have topped the idlis with some Ghee and dry milagai podi. My favorite brand for this is MTR.  

Indian Filter Coffee is a great way to complete the meal. 



Using an Instant Pot to steam idlis



To steam them in the instant pot add 1 cup water to the pot. Place the steamer plate on a trivet. Place the idlis and close the lid.

Move vent to venting. The timer will not work with this setting so use an external timer. Press cancel in 14-15 minutes and let the idli stand for a couple of minutes. 

Open the lid and remove the idlis. 



Options for the filling


While sambar is the BEST lava to use with idli batter, there are a few options. 

Filling in Coconut Chutney is great. The thick chutney will ooze out of the idli when cut. However, the chutney will become hot and may not taste the same! 

If you are looking for stuffed idli recipes, adding some potato masala that is used in masala dosa is a great option.



Method to make lava idli




1- Place a big pan on the stove. Place a trivet in it and add 1 cup water. Set a  steamer plate on the trivet. Cover and let the water come to a boil.

2- Grease silicone cups with non-stick spray or oil. Add a spoon of idli batter to each of the cups. 


3- Make tiny holes in the puris. Place a puri in each of them. 

4- Carefully fill the puris with sambar. 



5- Add another spoon of idli batter on it.

6- Place the cups on the steamer tray and cover immediately.



7- Let the idlis steam for 15-17 minutes. Once the top looks cooked, turn off the heat and let the idlis cool for a minute or two. 

8- Remove the idlis on a plate. Top them with 1/2 tbsp ghee and 1/2 tsp dry chutney. Cut the idli and enjoy with some coconut or tomato chutney on the side. 


Ingredients


Idli Batter using this recipe 
Puri used for Pani Puri 8
Ghee 4 tbsp
Dry Milagai Podi Chutney 4 tsp

For the filling


Toor Dal 1/2 cup

Onion 1/2 medium, diced 
Tomato 1 medium, diced
Peas 1/4 cup
Mustard Seeds 1/4 tsp
Cumin Seeds 1/4 tsp
Asafetida a pinch
Green Chili 1, minced
Ginger 1/4 tsp, grated
Curry Leaves 2-3, chopped finely
Salt 3/4 tsp
Turmeric Powder 1/4 tsp
Red Chili Powder 1/2 tsp





Method



Make the idli batter using this recipe. Set aside. 

To make the filling


Set the Instant Pot or Mealthy Multipot mode to Sauté. Let the display read hot.

Add oil, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafetida. Once the mustard seeds pop, add curry leaves, green chili, ginger and onion.

Sauté till the onions are light pink. Then add tomatoes and peas. Mix well.

Add salt, sambar masala, red chili powder and turmeric powder. Sauté for a couple of minutes and add the dal.

Deglaze using 1 cup water. Make sure all the bits and masalas are off the base. 

Close the lid and set mode to Pressure cook. Adjust the pressure level to high and time to 8 minutes. 

Once the instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes. 

Release the remaining pressure and open the instant pot. 

Using a ladle or wire whisk crush the dal a little. Set aside. 

To make the idlis


Place a big pan on the stove. Place a trivet in it and add 1 cup water. Set a seive or steamer plate on the trivet. Cover and let the water come to a boil.

Grease silicone cups with non-stick spray or oil. 

Make small holes in the puris and keep them ready. 

Add a spoon of idli batter to each of the cups. Place a puri in each of them. 

Carefully fill the puris with sambar. Try not to drip the sambar on the batter.

Add another spoon of idli batter on it. 

Place the cups on the steamer tray and cover immediately.

Let the idlis steam for 15-17 minutes. Once the top looks cooked, turn off the heat and let the idlis cool for a minute or two. 

Remove the idlis on a plate. Top them with 1/2 tbsp ghee and 1/2 tsp dry chutney. 

Cut the idli and enjoy with some coconut or tomato chutney on the side. 





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