Davini’s Idly with Chutney & Sardine Curry

Written by: Davini Laksmi
Dedication: To my mum & my friend’s mum

t seems like an elaborate meal to make but believe me, this will feed you and your folks for at least 3 meals. The idly is adapted from the usual rice-based ones you eat at Indian restaurants. I wanted to replace carbohydrates with more protein, and turned to moong dall and added vegetables to up the nutritional profile. Not only is it fluffy like the usual idly, it is also flavourful and versatile to eat with curry and chutneys.

“Adapting these dishes make it easy for me and my family to enjoy our traditional cuisine while suiting our health needs.”

The coconut chutney is the original recipe my mother taught me. Though elaborate, it is the most refreshing condiment to dosas and idly especially as a cooling element in any meal involving spicy dishes. The myriad of herbs and spices used to temper the chutney mean that this dish keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days.

The sardine curry is my go-to as it is convenient to prepare fish from a can and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and selenium. Canned sardines also retain their beneficial oils and match fresh fish for nutritional content. Their edible bones contain minerals beneficial for our bone health.

Having grown up on a steady diet of Indian heritage foods cooked by my Mom, I realise that I really enjoy Indian homecooked cuisine as opposed to Indian food sold in restaurants and hawker centers which tend to taste and lack in nutritional content and are higher in fats. However, adapting these dishes make it easy for me and my family to enjoy our traditional cuisine while suiting our health needs. The variety of ingredients only equate to the dietary diversity needed to help us grow a healthy gut and a happy brain!

Gluten-free orange bread sliced up
Khao Yam, before mixing
Screenshot 2022-03-27 165136
My dad, Chan

Davini's Idly with Chutney & Sardine Curry

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Recipe by Davini Laksmi Course: MainCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time



Idly is a cloud-like cake that is perfectly paired with coconut chutney and sardine curry for a protein-rich lunch.


  • For the Idly
  • 1 cup moong dal, pre-soaked for at least 2 hours

  • ½ cup urud dal, pre-soaked for at least 2 hours

  • 3 tsp semolina

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tbsp water

  • 1 cup green peas (thawed frozen peas work)

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 tsp grated ginger

  • ¼ tsp asafoetida powder

  • gingely oil or ghee

  • chopped coriander and curry leaves

  • For the Coconut Chutney
  • ‘A’ ingredients
  • 2 handfuls dry grated coconut

  • 25 g mint leaves

  • 2 sprigs coriander leaves

  • 1 garlic clove

  • 1 slice fresh ginger

  • 1 green chilli, seeds removed and quartered

  • tamarind juice (to make this, mix with your fingers 1 lime-sized tamarind pulp with 2 tbsp water. discard the pulp/seeds)

  • ‘B’ ingredients
  • 1 sprig curry leaves

  • 1 pinch fenugreek seeds

  • 1 pinch cumin seeds

  • 1 pinch mustard seeds

  • 1 pinch urud dall

  • 3 pieces dried chilli

  • ¼ onion, chopped

  • tsp sugar

  • ghee

  • For the Sardine Curry
  • 1 onion, sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 thick cross-section slice of ginger, further sliced

  • 1 bulb lemongrass, crushed

  • 1 green chilli, sliced

  • Fish spice mix

  • 1 sprig curry leaves

  • 2 cloves

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 2 cardamom pods

  • 1 dried bay leaf

  • 1 star anise

  • 3 teaspoons fish curry powder

  • 1 tablespoon garam masala

  • 2 tomatoes, cubed

  • cumin & fennel seed powder

  • coriander powder

  • tamarind juice (to make this, mix with your fingers 1 lime-sized tamarind pulp with 2 tbsp water. discard the pulp/seeds)

  • 1 can sardines

  • 1 tsp brown sugar

  • ground seeds or nuts (to thicken the curry instead of adding coconut milk)

  • oil as needed

  • water as needed

  • salt to taste


  • For the Idly
  • Drain the moong dall and urud dall from the soaking liquid (you can use this liquid to water your plants as it is nutritious).
  • Grind the moong dall and urud dall separately in a blender (one after another, so that the consistency is right).
  • Mix the ground dalls in a bowl and mix in the semolina.
  • Cover the bowl with lid and leave to ferment in a warm place overnight.
  • The next morning, stir the fermented batter and mix in the salt, water, peas, ginger, grated carrot, coriander, curry leaves and asafoetida powder.
  • Grease an idly mould with gingely oil or ghee before spooning the idly mixture into each of the moulds. Steam over boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Remove the idly from the moulds with a spoon.
  • For the Coconut Chutney
  • Grind ‘A’ ingredients together in a dry grinder. Start by grinding the grated coconut first before adding the rest of the ‘A’ ingredients. Make sure to scrape the grinded bits from the sides and the underside of the grinder cover to blend everything evenly.
  • Fry ‘B’ ingredients together at once in a pan on medium heat until the seeds just start to sputter for about 3 minutes.
  • Combine ground ‘A’ ingredients with ‘B’ ingredients in a pan over low heat. Add salt to taste and serve garnished with fresh sliced red chilli.
  • For the Sardine Curry
  • In a wok of hot oil, fry onions, fish spice mix, cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, bay leaf, star anise, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, green chilli and curry leaves.
  • Once the onions are soft, mix in the coriander powder, cumin and fennel seed powder, garam masala and fish curry powder.
  • Throw in the tomatoes and fry until the paste turns mushy.
  • Pour in the tamarind juice and add water till it covers the ingredients.
  • Gently ladle in the sardines (drained from the tomato juice from the can).
  • Simmer the curry for about 15 minutes.
  • Season with salt and sugar.
  • Thicken the curry with crushed seeds or nuts as per your preference.

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With special thanks from the Kampung Eats team to Davini!

1 Comment

  • Thank you so much for sharing your recipe Davini! Love this healthier option of idly 🙂

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