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Light South Indian recipes for the summer

Soulful South Indian recipes to try at home

04 May, 2020 by Gargi Bisht

Soulful South Indian recipes to try at home

When it comes to food, there is nothing as soulful as South Indian cuisine. And in hot summer days, when you don’t feel like overstuffing yourself, light South Indian delicacies made with homely ingredients and packing a whole lot of flavor can come to your rescue. So, the next time you crave for something light yet delicious, try these easy to make at home South Indian recipes.

1. Rava Uttapam


  • ½ cup fine variety of rava (sooji or semolina)
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda or ⅛ teaspoon eno
  • salt as per taste
  • oil or ghee for greasing the pan and drizzling
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 green chili, finely chopped- optional


  • Mix the rava and water in a bowl. Keep the batter to rest for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, stir the batter again.
  • Then add 3 tsp lemon juice, salt, and 1/4 tsp baking soda or 1/8 tsp eno. Stir and mix very well.
  • Heat a tawa and spread some oil. You can also use a non-stick pan.
  • Take the batter in a large serving spoon, pour the batter and spread it gently. Don't spread too much.
  • When the batter is still raw from the top, add the onions-tomatoes-green chilies mix.
  • Gently press the onions-tomatoes with the spatula, so that they stick to the batter.
  • Drizzle some oil on the sides and the top. When the base is cooked and lightly browned, flip them gently.
  • Cook till the onions and tomatoes are light golden or golden.
  • Flip and serve hot with ketchup or chutney of your choice.

2. Rice Appam


  • 1 cup white raw rice
  • ½ cup grated coconut
  • ¼ cup cooked rice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt


  • Soak the rice in water for 5 hours.
  • In a blender- add soaked rice, grated coconut, cooked rice, coconut milk and water, grind to a smooth batter.
  • Pour the batter into a large bowl and keep aside on the countertop overnight to ferment.
  • After overnight fermentation and just before making appams- add baking soda and salt to the batter, combine well.
  • Keep the batter aside for 10 minutes.
  • Heat a pan and grease it nicely with oil.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, pour 1 to 1½ large spoonful of batter onto the pan and swirl the pan to coat the batter evenly on the pan.
  • Close the pan with its lid and cook for 4 minutes.
  • Open the lid, using a wooden spatula remove the appam from the pan, and place it on a plate.
  • Serve with any kind of veg/non-veg curries

3. Curd Rice


  • 1 cup rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1.5-2 cups curd, whisked
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup grated carrots, from 2 medium carrots
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • 1-2 green chili, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • Handful of pomegranate seeds- optional


  • Rinse 1 cup of rice and place it in a pressure cooker with 3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pressure cook the rice until very soft- 2 to 3 whistles on high heat then lower the heat and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Let the pressure release on its own.
  • Once the rice is cooked, mash it lightly. You may also leave it as is if you don't like mashed rice. Transfer to a large bowl and let it cool completely.
  • Once the rice has cooled completely, add in the whisked curd and milk and mix to combine.
  • Then add in the grated carrot, chopped coriander and green chili and mix to combine.
  • Now for the tempering/tadka, heat oil in a small pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let them pop.
  • Then add the urad dal and cook until it starts changing color. (If you want dal to be soft and not super crunchy in the tadka, just soak it in water for 10 minutes before using).
  • Add the ginger, curry leaves and dried red chilies. Cook until the curry leaves turn crisp.
  • Carefully transfer the tadka to the bowl of curd rice and mix.
  • Cover and refrigerate the curd rice for a few hours until chilled. Top with pomegranate seeds and serve with pickle and papadum.

4. Tomato Rice


  • 1 cup basmati rice, soaked for 20-25 minutes, then drained
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  • 3 cloves
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick- Optional
  • 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal, soaked for 10 mins
  • 6-7 cashews, broken- optional
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green chili, chopped
  • 6-7 curry leaves
  • 1.5 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1.5 to 1.75 cups water
  • coriander, to garnish


  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaf, green cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick. Also add the mustard seeds.
  • Once the mustard seeds pop, add the chana dal and cashew to the pot. Cook for a minute until the cashews and dal start changing color.
  • Add the chopped onion, green chili and curry leaves.
  • Cook for 2 minutes until onions become translucent. Then add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for a minute.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes along with salt and mix. Cook the tomatoes for 6 to 7 minutes until they turn soft and mushy.
  • Then add the spices turmeric powder, garam masala, coriander powder, black pepper and red chili powder. Stir and cook the spices with the masala for a minute.
  • Add the rinsed and drained rice to the cooker. Toss the rice until it's well combined with the tomato masala.
  • Add the water. Close the cooker and cook on medium heat for 2 whistles. Then lower the heat to lowest and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and let the pressure release on its own. Open the cooker and fluff the rice with a fork. Garnish with coriander and serve spicy tomato rice with curd and pickle.

5. Oats Idli


  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats or rolled oats
  • ½ cup fine rava (sooji)
  • ½ cup curd
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon eno or ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 small to medium carrot grated- optional
  • 3 teaspoon chopped coriander leaves
  • salt as required
  • ½ tablespoon oil
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon urad dal- optional
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 or 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped curry leaves-optional
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 1 or 2 tablespoon grated coconut- optional


  • Take 1 cup oats in a grinder or blender jar and grind or blend to a fine flour.
  • Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a pan. On a low flame, add the mustard seeds, chana dal and urad dal.
  • Stir and sauté till the mustard seeds crackle and both the urad dal and chana dal become golden.
  • Now add the green chilies, ginger, curry leaves, and a pinch of asafoetida. Sauté for a minute.
  • Add 1/2 cup of sooji, stir and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Then add the oats flour. Stir very well and keep on stirring often while roasting the flour. Roast for 4 to 5 minutes. Take this mixture in a bowl and let it cool down completely.
  • Then add the grated carrots and chopped coriander leaves. Add 1/2 cup curd.
  • Add 1 cup of water. Stir the idli batter very well. The batter should have a medium consistency. Cover and allow the batter to sit for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, grease the idli molds with some oil or ghee. Also heat water in the idli steamer or in an electric cooker or pressure cooker. Add salt as per taste and stir very well.
  • Now add 1 tsp eno or 1/2 tsp baking soda. Quickly begin to stir the whole batter. Be quick and stir very well so that the eno is mixed evenly in the batter.
  • Pour the oats idli batter in the greased idli molds.
  • Place the molds in the steamer/pressure cooker. Cover and steam for about 10 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the idlis come out clean.
  • Allow the steamed idlis to stand for some minutes. Then remove them with a spoon dipped in hot water. Serve these light healthy and instant oats idli hot or warm with coconut chutney or sambar.

6. Mix Veggies Sambhar


  • 1 tablespoon tamarind
  • ⅓ cup hot water
  • ½ cup tuvar dal or arhar dal
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1.5 to 1.75 cups water or add as required
  • 1 to 1.5 cups cleaned and chopped vegetables like, french beans, small round brinjals, pumpkin
  • 1 to 2 drumsticks, scraped and chopped in 3 to 4 inches sticks.
  • 1 small to medium onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 small to medium tomato, quartered or diced
  • ½ teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder - optional
  • 1 to 1.5 tablespoons sambar powder
  • 2 tablespoons oil or ghee
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 to 2 dry red chilies - halved and seeds removed
  • 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • 2 pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • 5 to 6 fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) - optional
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves - optional

Instructions :

  • Soak 1 tablespoon tamarind in ⅓ cup hot water for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Once the tamarind gets soft, then squeeze the tamarind in the water itself. Discard the strained tamarind and keep the tamarind pulp aside.
  • Rinse ½ cup tuvar dal a couple of times in water. Drain all the water and add the dal in a 2 liter pressure cooker. Also add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder.
  • Add 1.5 to 1.75 cups water and mix. Cover and pressure cook dal for 7 to 8 whistles or 10 to 12 minutes on medium flame.
  • When the pressure settles down on its own, open the lid and check the dal. The dal should be completely cooked and mushy.
  • Mash the dal with a spoon or wired whisk. Cover and keep aside.
  • Take 1 to 1.5 cups of chopped vegetables in a pan or pot. Also add onion and tomato.
  • Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, ¼ teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder and salt as per taste.
  • Add 1.5 to 2 cups water and stir.
  • Keep the pan on a stovetop and cook vegetables on a medium-low to medium flame.
  • Once the vegetables are almost cooked, then add the tamarind pulp and 1 to 1.5 tablespoons sambar powder. mix well.
  • Add the mashed dal. Mix again. Simmer on a medium-low flame till it comes to a boil. Switch off flame. Cover and keep aside.
  • In a small pan or tadka pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add ½ tsp mustard seeds. Let the mustard seeds crackle.
  • Then add 1 to 2 dry red chilies. Immediately add the curry leaves, methi seeds, and 2 pinches of asafoetida (hing). Fry them till the red chilies change color and curry leaves become crisp.
  • Immediately add this tempering mixture in the hot sambar.
  • Cover the pan with its lid for 4 to 5 minutes, so that the aroma and flavors from the tempering mixture gets infused with the sambar.
  • Garnish it with a few coriander leaves and serve hot.


Q1: Can we mix the veggies in the uttapam batter itself?

A: Yes, you can either mix the veggies in the batter itself or place them separately on the top of the cooking Uttapams with a spatula. 

Q2: What should be the consistency of the Appam batter?

A: The batter needs to be very thin in order to make soft Appams.

Q3: Is it necessary to add tamarind pulp to the Sambhar?

A: No, if you don't have tamarind at home you can totally skip this step. You can also pick and choose the selection of veggies to add to the Sambhar as per your preference.

Written By

Gargi Bisht is an event copywriter/conceptualizer turned writer currently working with EazyDiner Pvt. Ltd. Compulsive eater, book hoarder, dog lover and pop culture enthusiast with an innate love for storytelling. Usually the quietest person in the room, Gargi is an introvert who loves her own company. When not eating, can be found in front of her laptop watching movies. Knows a thing or two about art and literature.

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