Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sweet and Savory Sandhavai / Idiyappam - Rice String hoppers

There are a few childhood favorites where a mere mention of it, transports you to happier and carefree times. Sandhavai as we called the more popular idiyappam has that special effect for me. In the coconut rich villages of KonguNaadu this was indeed a very popular dish.

Sandhavai press

My FIL shared a little bit of folk history about this dish as well. Newly married couples invited to people's homes for virundhu (rougly translates to lunch or dinner invitation) were often served this dish as a custom. Beyond that none of us have any idea what the significance of the dish itself is.

Sounds and looks like a lot of work but it is not. If you have the sandhavai press the rest is easy. The batter is made with regular idli rice, steamed in idli moulds, stuffed into the moulds and then pressed to get string hoppers. No fermenting of the batter is required.

The string hoppers are served with sweetened coconut milk for the sweet version or stir fried for the savory version with flavors ranging from tomato,lemon, tamarind to spicy coconut.


Sweet - Plain with coconut milk

Sweet and Savory Sandhavai / Idiyappam (string hoppers)
1. 4 cups of par boiled rice (idli rice) - soak for 3-4 hours or enough to grind
2. Salt to taste

For the Sweet
2. 2 -4 cups of coconut milk (tinned would work
3. 2 cardamom pods powdered
4. 4-5 tbsp of sugar

For the Savory (4 cups of sandhavai)
5. 1/2 cup chopped onions
6. 4-5 green chilies chopped
7. 4 tomatoes chopped
8. seasonings: cumin, mustard, curry leaves
9. 1 tsp turmeric powder
10. 1 tsp of oil and salt to taste

For the Sandhavai
1. Grind the soaked rice to a very smooth pourable consistency (don't worry about too thin a consistency, everything works )
2. Grease the idli moulds and pour the batter and steam cook for 10-12 minutes
3. While still hot stuff the idlis into the press and press to get the sandhavai.
4. Set some aside for the sweet and roughly break apart the other half for the savory version

Savory Sandhavai
1. Heat oil in a flat bottomed pan and add the seasonings
2. Add the onions and green chilies and saute till they start to turn translucent
3. Add the turmeric powder, salt and tomatoes and saute for a minute or two
4. Cover with a lid and let it cook for 8-10 minutes till the tomatoes are soft
5. Mix in the sandhavai and turn off the heat

Sweet Sandhavai
1.In a sauce pan add the coconut milk, cardamom and sugar and heat the coconut milk through stirring. Take care not to boil the milk or let it curdle

Serve over the plain sandhavai


  1. Ayyo! Sandavaii!!! enakku? This is my most fav. food ever!!

    I like it best with chicken curry or prawn curry or potato kurma. Maybe this weekend, I'll make it!

  2. I tried this very hard to make from raw rice 28 yrears ago and broke the murukku chutti. Then gave up my favorite dish for a long time. Now i buy red shandhavai from Indiam marts. Srilankan stores sell fresh even for the parties.

  3. Kay, same here, nothing can beat this ever. If only you were here.

    Anon, raw rice does not lend itself to be made into sandhavai. Parboiled/idli rice works best.

    My Srilankan friend orders it and they taste very good too.

  4. I love the sweet version and never miss to have some whenever am near Kamat. looks lovely. dint know the method of preparing this.

  5. Love the pictures Indo. We have a frozen pack sitting in the fridge and it's not nearly as delicious as yours :)

  6. That's a cool press..i never seen anything like it idiyappam...

  7. My favourite idiyappams, love with coconut milk...makes me hungry..

  8. Wow you have the press here? That's so cool. Whenever my mom made it, I would help her with the press. Tastes so very good. Nowadays I just make idiyaapam here but prefer this to that.

  9. I love to have this with coconut milk in South Indian restaraunts. Had no idea it was cooked first and then pressed. Have always wondered how were these made. Will the press that we use for making sev work? Would love to try making this. :-)

  10. Wow.

    This is on my to-bring list from India on my next trip...We call it "Sevai" them...


  11. Wow....this is my favorite, looks tempting and yummy.

  12. Wow Indo, that is such a wonderful post..I love love all forms..:) nice to see the press..

  13. I love love love idiyappam!! But I didnt know you could make idlis and then cook and then put it into the mould?? My mom used to put the thick flour (almost like soft chapati dough) into the mould and struggle to press out the vermicelli strands and then steam them - obviously I tried this once and then gave up. Your method sound so much simpler!!

  14. I love love love idiyappam!! But I didnt know you could make idlis and then cook and then put it into the mould?? My mom used to put the thick flour (almost like soft chapati dough) into the mould and struggle to press out the vermicelli strands and then steam them - obviously I tried this once and then gave up. Your method sound so much simpler!!

  15. I love Sandhavai! Like Kay, I love to eat it w/ chicken/mutton curry *drool*


  16. Indo, I've never seen idiyappam being made or had sandhavai, are the two different?

  17. I hav enever seen a press like this. I love idiyappam it is one of my favourite kerala breakfast. Drool

  18. String hoppers look amazing!!

  19. I saw this press the first time at my in-laws place. The sevai made this way is so different and delicious tasting compared to the other ones.

  20. Miri, even when I used flour (as opposed to grinding the rice and making them) I still steamed before pressing them out.

    Sra, idiyapppam and sandhavai are the same. My side of the family calls sandhavai while DH's side calls it idiyappam. They are made the same way.

  21. i am seeing this press for the first time. looks very interesting.. i think the savory version will be my favorite!

  22. This looks cool. I've never really tried making my own noodles but that tool does make things easier! I like it with curry, yum! Thanks for sharing this to us, and if you don't mind I would like to share it to other Foodista readers too. If you could please Just add the foodista widget for string hoppers at the end of this post and it's all set, thanks!

  23. My grandmom's house had one of those presses and I remember us cousins watching the rice vermicelli streaming out with total fascination! The sweet one had jaggery for sure. Not sure whether they used coconut milk or something else.

  24. I love this Stuff.I used to keep pestering mom to make it on weekends and I help her with the press.It was such fun.I love the lemon and curd variety.This post takes me down the memory lane...

  25. That looks so good. Have eaten a sweet coconut rice from some Malasian/Thai restaurant.. this looks like the Indian sister of that! Thanks for all the pics!

  26. Love Idiyappam esp the tri color ones- coconut, lemon and tamarind :)

    Seems like your garden is growing like a garden should..Mine is OK, no one to take care of it for a month and I have got loads of unwanted plants but the tomatoes have grown!!!! Thanks!

  27. PJ, the savory version is delicious. I like the sweet version with coconut milk and sugar sprinkled on top, the crunch of the sugar added that special something.

    Vani, did your grandmother add the jaggery to the dough itself or to the coconut milk. The former I don't know, the latter I have tasted in some places along with a sauce made of coconut, jaggery and sesame seeds. Glad to see you here.

    SS, was it just cooked rice or noodles made with the rice?

    Sowjanya, so nice to see you again. Idiyappam is like by all :)
    Hope you are doing good and glad to hear the tomatoes are coming up good.

  28. Indo.. the dish I had was just coconut sweet rice (no jaggery, so white in colour). My friend got the noodle version of the same thing. Very much like your dish. I just tried to look up what the name might be.. and here's what I found on wiki, the dish we ate at the restaurant might be their version of South Indian food in Malaysia:

  29. I have enjoyed these lovely sweet and savory versions in my friends house near Kovai. U have kindled lots of sweet memories Indo! I can line on these for 3 times a day!

  30. I am totally Floored, Indo!..Fabulous Post!!! :)


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