Boiling rice in rice cooker and Instant Sambar saadham (Southern indian style one pot meal of rice & lentils)

After posting more than 50 recipes atlast I have come with a rice recipe. This post also contains step- by -step pictures to cook rice in the rice cooker.
With this cooked rice you can create a new one dish meal called Sambhar Saadham by adding few  ingredients into the rice cooker. Since cooking lentils take very long time in rice cooker we will be using Instant dal mix-1 or 4. Small pearl onions also called sambhar onions are similar to shallots, and these give this rice a unique aroma. If you don't find them just replace them with red onion.

Time- 30 mins
Servings- 2 , Yields about 3 soup bowls.


  • 1/2 cup (100 ml rice) any variety long grained or short grained, but avoid parboiled rice or brown rice, it will take long time to cook)

  • 2 tsp-1tbsp Madras Sambhar powder (you might have to adjust the quantity as every sambhar powder has different level of chillies)

  • 700  ml of Water = 300 ml water to cook rice + 200 ml to mix the instant dal mix and sambhar powder + another 250 ml may be needed to cook rice and to thin out the kitchdee
 For the tempering
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp cashew pieces
  • 10-12 pearl onions, frozen ones are fine too (slice off the top, peel and chop these into halves) or 1 small size red onion (sliced)


 1.Soaking rice- 

Take rice in a bowl add lots of water and stir. The water becomes white in color (turbid) due to starch content. Drain off this water. You can sieve this, if you find it difficult to drain water by decantation.
Soak rice for 10-20 mins in plenty of water and then drain the water.

Meanwhile you can do other preparations-

Chop the onions.
Soak the tamarind piece in 2 tbsp of water. (If you are using instant mix-3 then skip this step), after 10 mins squeeze it. You can strain this to obtain tamarind pulp, using the same strainer with which you had drained the rice. Keep this pulp ready.
Make a solution of Instant dal mix and sambhar pd in 200ml of water.

Heat oil in the rice cooker pan and put cashew pieces.
Cover with the lid and press 'cook' button. In a minute or two, the underside of the cashews become golden.

Remove the lid and add the onion pieces.

 Stir well and cover it back with the lid and press the 'cook' mode.  Fry till slightly golden.(about 3 mins).

Transfer these into a bowl, you will need this later for garnishing.

Don't wash the rice cooker bowl. If there is any oil drops on it's outside surface wipe it with paper towel (tissue paper).

Cooking rice-

Heat 300ml water in the rice cooker. Cover with the lid and press the 'cook' button.

When it is hot (takes about 2 mins) add the rice ( washed ,soaked and drained) into it.
Add 1/4 tsp oil into this. (This prevents overflowing). Cover the pan and continue cooking.

In 10 mins you will find lots of bubbles arising, and in next 5 mins the rice will cook and the cooker goes automatically to 'warm' mode when all the water is used up.

You rice is done.
But each type of rice has a different cooking time. So it's better to check the rice after 10 mins into cooking. If you find that the rice is still undercooked then-

1. If you want fluffy, separate grains you can add 50 ml water at this time and continue cooking for another 5 mins. This rice can be cooled and later stir fried into Lemon rice, or into many type of  Fried rice (Chinese,Thai etc), Tamarind rice, Tava pulav, Cumin rice (jeera rice) etc. in short basically for any dry rice dishes.

2. If you are preparing Bisi bele bhath, Sambhar saadham, or you simply want some soft rice to eat with dal then add 100 ml water to the rice after 10mins and continue cooking till done. Your rice will become soft. This soft rice absorbs all the flavors of the dal.

Preparing Sambhar saadham- 

When the rice has cooked (you can check this by pressing a few rice grains or even eat a few grains)
add sambhar powder, tamarind water, instant dal mix, all these dissolved in 200 ml water.

Also add 1/2 tsp salt. You might need another 100 ml water.

Boil for 10 mins covered with the lid. It will thicken by this time.

Switch off the cooker and stir well so that the rice doesn't get stuck at the bottom of the pan.
You can leave this rice in the cooker for another 20 mins in this 'switch off' mode.
This resting time allows the flavors to mingle.

Garnish the fried onions and cashews on top.
Top with 1/2 tsp ghee (clarified butter) to make it more tasty.

 Time saving tip-  
  1. You can add frozen mix vegetables (green peas, french beans, carrots, cauliflower) or pieces of pumpkin,  when you are boiling the water to cook rice. It will cook along with the rice.
  2. Peeling small onions is time consuming so I find it convenient to peel and freeze them.
  3. You can reheat this Sambhar Saadham in the rice cooker or microwave adding little water.

Check out the some recipes from my other blog- sameveggiemanyways.
You can cook these in rice cooker too.

Easy Kolhapuri masala -Kaanda lasun masala
This masala is used in various gravies and stir-fry.

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  1. Hi Rekha,

    Very interesting. Have to try dish. Will give my feedback after trying.

    1. Your feedback is always welcome.
      If you are in the kitchen with a pressure cooker then -
      Soak 100 ml tur dal (split pigeon pea) for 30mins and drain the water. Wash rice.
      Next pressure cook rice and dal, and then add salt, sambhar masala and tamarind pulp.
      Cook for sometime adding water as required. Then temper it with 1/2 tsp mustard, curry leaves, cashews and pearl onions.
      Eat with little desi ghee (clarified butter) on top.

  2. Hi Rekha,

    Tried this recipe last week, it tastes good. One more recipe from your blog is added to my list. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much. This is one dish I cook whenever there is leftover steamed rice or during busy days.

  3. Love the concept of simplifying Indian cooking to one pot meals while retaining the flavor and health benefits of home cooked meals. keep up the good work!


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