South Indian Idli

Idli with sambar and coconut chutney is essentially a South Indian staple but over the years it has become quite popular as a breakfast meal throughout India. Idli, a savoury rice cake, is made by steaming the batter of fermented lentils and rice. It is light, moist, fluffy, a steamy white wonder.

The story of idli

Idli is an ancient food, references of it were first recorded in the 10th-century text in which a lady offers an idli to a monk asking for alms. Manasollasa, an encyclopedic work discussing contemporary culinary habits written in the 12th century, also mentions idli made with lentil flour, spiced with pepper and asafetida. The encyclopedic idli is a fried, not steamed version and was made without rice.

K.T Achaya, a celebrated food historian, said that idli may have originated in Indonesia. According to him, kedli, a similar steamed rice cake of Indonesian origin, may be the precursor of the Indian idli and the influence behind the steaming method used for making idli’s in India. However, there is another theory about the origin of idli. Many historians believe that idli may be a version of idada, a steamed white dhokla hailing from Gujarat made from similar ingredients. Idada is believed to have travelled to South India during the 10th century AD with the community of Saurashtrian silk weavers.

India’s favourite breakfast, and also my dad’s

Like I mentioned in my story my father’s passion in life is food. He loves to eat and my mom loves to cook. Every day at breakfast, he would finalize the entire day’s menu – palak paneer for lunch, samosa for tea, malai kofte for dinner, all set. My dad loves routine, especially with food. For instance, we have always, forever I can remember, have either had puri with aloo sabzi or bhature with chana for every Sunday breakfast. His other favourites include samosa and jalebi, dal kachori with aloo sabzi, vegetable pakoras, or aloo boonda for evening tea as the mood strikes and twice a week we all have South Indian. It maybe upma, masala dosa or idli with sambar and coconut chutney.

Feeling Hungry..?? If reading about Idli-sambar made you crave some, don’t worry I got you covered. Fluffy idli’s served with warm sambar and crunchy coconut chutney coming up..

Please do share your creations with me on Instagram by tagging me @the_cinnamon_life using the #the_cinnamon_life. Also, don’t forget to leave your feedback/rating in the comments below.


Recipe for Idli:

South Indian Idli - with tangy Sambar and crunchy Coconut Chutney

Idli with sambar and coconut chutney is a popular South Indian breakfast savoured throughout India. Idli, a savoury rice cake, is made by steaming the batter of fermented lentils and rice. It is light, moist, fluffy, a steamy white wonder. 

Course: Breakfast, Main Course, Snack
Origin: South Indian
Keyword: idli, idli recipe
Recipe by: Divya
  • 4 cups Idli Rice
  • 1.25 cup Whole Urad Dal without skin (Split Black Gram Lentil)
  • 1 tbsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • 1 cup Poha (Flattened Rice)
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • Ice cold Water as required
Overnight Prep:
  1. Wash Idli Rice 4-5 times and soak in a vessel overnight with enough water to cover it.

  2. Separately wash Urad Dal 4-5 times and soak in a different vessel overnight with enough water to cover it.

  3. Soak fenugreek seeds overnight with a half cup of water.

1 Hour prior prep:
  1. Soak Poha for 1 hour with 1 cup of water.

Making the Idli batter:
  1. Grind soaked and drained fenugreek seeds and poha together. Add water if required but do not make it running or watery. Put the mixture in big vessel.

  2. Now grind urad dal but by adding ice-cold water little by little. While grinding the mixture should not get heated. Reason being that heating the mixture will have an altogether different effect on the fermentation of the mixture, changing the taste and texture. The paste should be smooth.

  3. Add the ground urad dal to the ground fenugreek and poha mixture in the big vessel.

  4. Now grind the drained rice by adding cold water slowly and remove this mixture also in the same big vessel. 

  5. Add salt and mix the batter with hands properly. Now keep it in warm place for fermentation overnight. It should ferment up to double the quantity of the mixture.

Some Important points to note:
  1. The vessel should not be airtight in which it is kept for fermentation. Steel utensil is quite good.

  2. While grinding the mixture should not get heated so use ice cold water.

  3. The mixture should not be water otherwise it will not ferment properly.

Making the Idli:
  1. In the Idli maker, I use the Prestige Multi Kadai, 3 litres, put water and place it on medium flame. 

  2. Grease the idli plates with very little oil and fill the rounds of the idli plates with batter. 

  3. Steam for 7-8 minutes. Do not overdo it.

  4. After removing the idli plates from the idli maker, do not remove the idli immediately. Rest them for 2 minutes before spooning out the idli.

  5. Serve hot with Sambar and Coconut Chutney

  6. Note: The Idli batter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Just bring it to room temperature before beginning to make the idlis. 



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