A love letter to idli and sambar by Chef Jomon on Valentine’s Day

Chef Jomon Kuriakose, Chef de Cuisine, The LaLiT London and National chef of the year UK 2021 semi finalist, feels there is no better couple in the food world than idli and sambar. They are so much in love that they melt into each other when they are together.
For chef jomon kuriakose, idli and sambar has been a lifelong love affair.
Chef Jomon Kuriakose has had a lifelong love affair with idli and sambar, which represent the ideal of love for him.

There is no love sincerer than the love of food. Here’s another Valentine’s Day. Growing up listening to romantic poems from Laila Majnoon to Romeo and Juliet, we know love has always been a beautiful feeling. However, there is a romantic pair in our country, especially in my state Kerala, that we don’t often think of. They are a special combo that cannot be separated from each other. Any Keralite would like to spend time with them at least once a week. Their love poem is always thrilling, especially to the Malayalis living as expatriates.

It is none other than our own idli and sambar. The legendary pair who have been labelled ‘perfect pair’ ever since time immemorial by seeing, hearing and tasting.

Idli and sambar is a timeless romance. Image: courtesy sekhar abraham photography.
Idli and sambar is a timeless romance. Image: Courtesy Sekhar Abraham Photography.

Although I started eating parotta and beef, appam and stew, pizza, pasta and burgers when I grew up to be independent, idli and sambar are the best romantic couple I’ve ever met, having encountered them at a young age in my mom’s kitchen. Love is a success when the couple are so much in love that they melt into each other, becoming one.

Idlis, fluffy steamed cakes, are served with hot sambar, a vegetable lentil stew. It is one of the most popular South Indian breakfast meals. It’s easy to prepare a hearty, protein-packed, flavoursome idli and sambar meal at home. Follow these easy steps to make it amazingly delicious.

Chef jomon first fell in love with idli and sambar in his mother's kitchen. Image: courtesy sekhar abraham photography.
Chef Jomon first fell in love with idli and sambar in his mother’s kitchen. Image: Courtesy Sekhar Abraham Photography.

Be like idli and sambar. You may be from different circumstances but, when you are together, be the world’s best combo.

Idly and sambar is a very popular combination. Here, I’m sharing a unique sambar powder recipe which I got from my grandmother.

Sambar powder


1/2 cup coriander seeds 
2 tbsp cumin seeds
15-20 dry red chillies
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorn
2 tbsp channa dal
1 tbsp urad dal
3-4 strings curry leaves
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp asafoetida powder
2 tsp turmeric powder


  1. Dry roast all the ingredients separately on a low flame until they achieve a nice, good flavour.
  2. Mix all the ingredients with asafoetida and powder when the mixture is cool. 
  3. Make sure it’s ground nicely into a fine powder.
  4. Store the sambar powder in an air-tight container.

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