Sunday, October 02, 2011

Idli the fluffy South Indian Rice Cake - Vegan MoFo post 2

Idlis are a staple breakfast food in South India. These fluffy rice cakes are made by soaking, grinding and fermenting a combination of a specific type of rice and urad dal (split black gram). Adding a handful of methi (fenugreek) seeds in the mix makes the Idlis extra soft and fluffy.


Idli Grinder

I use my trusty Kailash Tilting Wet Grinder to make a super smooth Idli batter. It has a motor unit over which the grinding vessel is placed. The inner base of the vessel has a granite layer. There is also a grinding attachment made of three granite stones which is placed into the vessel where it is held in place. When the machine is turned on the vessel starts to rotate which causes the stones to rotate in the opposite direction. No grain or lentil can hold the hope of staying whole under the pressure of those awesome stones. ;)

The tilting mechanism in my grinder makes it very convenient to pour out the batter without having to carry the weight of the heavy vessel.

For those who make Idlis just occasionally, a good blender with sharp blades will do fine. You just have to remember to soak the urad dal and rice separately and make a very smooth paste of the dal before grinding the rice (the methi seeds are soaked with the rice). But for someone who is looking to be a regular Idli pro, a wet grinder is would make for a very nifty gadget. It's been a truly worthy investment for me! :)



1 C Whole or Split Black Gram
5 C Short Grained Idli Rice (I also like to use Mulleri Red Rice for my Idlis sometimes)
2 T Fenugreek Seeds

Soak everything (except salt) together in plain water overnight.

Drain the soaking water into a vessel and keep aside.

Set up the idli grinder according to instructions, pour some soaking water into it and switch it on.

With the motor running, slowly add in the rice, dal and methi mixture.

Pour in some more of the water to ensure the steady movement of the grinding stones.

Cover the vessel with the lid and get online and blog for the next 20 minutes.

Look in on the batter and add more water if required (the batter should have a fairly thick but pourable consistency) and let the grinder run for another 15 minutes or so.

Once the batter is completely smooth turn it off and pour it into a large container (batter should fill it only halfway to allow it to expand while fermenting).

Add salt and mix lightly with your hand, cover and keep aside in a warm place for about 12 hours (more if you live in a cold climate).

Once the batter has risen well and attained a slightly sour smell, it is ready for use.

Ladle the batter into Idli mold trays.

Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a steamer and once it begins to boil place the Idli trays into the steamer.

Cover and steam for 8-10 minutes on medium heat.

You should be able to smell the cooked Idlis in the steam wafting out of the steamer.

Carefully remove the Idly trays out of the steamer and let the Idlis cool for a few minutes.

Gently unmold the Idlis using a wide, flatish spoon.

Drizzle sesame oil over the Idlis and serve them hot with Sambar or Coconut Chutney.

Enjoy! :)


  1. That gadget is amazing, and the idlis look and sound delicious!

  2. Thank you for introducing me to an idli grinder...will you be posting a coconut chutney too?

  3. okay, WHAT?! You have your own idli batter spinner! You are amazing! I love idli, but I definitely dont have a spinner. I don't even have a proper idli mold. Sometimes I borrow one from my aunt, and sometimes I just spread out the batter over my veggie steamer and then break it into pieces. It works, but it's not as fun. amazing post!

  4. Thank you Celyn. :)

    Gigi, hmm good idea. I think might do a chutney special post at some point featuring a bunch of them.

    Amey,heheh it's a common gadget in South Indian kitchens but I knew it would make an impression in the global vegan world. :D That steamer thing you do is similar to what we call 'tatte idlis'. Tatte means 'plate' in Kannada. So we have these little plates with inch high walls which are meant just to make these idlis. :) So when you make those idlis in your steamer, from now on you don't have to break them. Just say you're eating tatte idlis. They are a specialty. :)

  5. Whaaat? You are blowing my mind with your super fantastico kitchen tools.