Introduction: Idli, the Most Favored South Indian Breakfast

About: I am a retired Science Teacher for Higher Secondary Education. Now spend my time on Gardening and other hobbies

Idli is one of the most favored breakfast in South India. It is made with a fermented batter mix of rice and dehusked black gram lentils. The thick batter is then steam-cooked in a specially made Idli vessel. Hot idlis are served with Coconut chutney, Sambar and other spicy tomato chutney. Idli is preferred by elders and young children as it is tasty, very easy to digest and contains lot of nutrients also.

This instructable will guide you on how to make idlis at home.

Please go through my other instructables on how to make sambar and chutney varieties served as side with idli at the following links:

How to make Sambar

How to make coconut chutney

How to make spicy Tomato chutney

Step 1: The Idli Batter

The idli batter is made about 12 hours prior to cooking idlis and allowed to ferment overnight.

  • Take about 3-1/2 to 4 measures of parboiled rice in a vessel. Parboiled rice is one that has been partially boiled in the husk. Do not use raw rice.
  • Take one measure of dehusked black gram lentils
  • Soak both the grains separately in water for about six to eight hours
  • After the grains are fully soaked, grind them separately in a wet grinder or in a food processor. The soaked black gram lentils are to be ground to a fine paste where as soaked rice to be ground to little less than a fine paste. If you grind the rice to a fine paste, then the idlis will not be soft
  • Mix both the grind pastes together, add salt to taste and mix well.
  • keep this batter in a warm place overnight to ferment.

The ratio of rice and black gram lentils is about 4 to 1. But sometimes you need to decrease the quantity of rice to 3-1/2 measures based on the quality of rice available at your place

Step 2: The Idli Making Vessel

The traditional idli making vessel consists of large metal pot for boiling water. There are two or three idli plates with depressions for pouring the batter. The depressions also have few small holes for the steam to pass through. The idli making vessel is made in such a way that there is enough space between the idli plates that the bottom of top plate will not touch the idlis in the bottom plate.

Normally we use clean cotton clothes cut to the shape of the idli plates to be spread over the depressions. The cotton clothes are boiled in the same water in the vessel before making idlis. A lid is placed over the large vessel to trap and circulate the steam for even cooking of idlis.

The Idli making vessel I have has 2 idli plates with three (the bottom one) and four (the top one) depressions. So we can make seven idlis at a time. There are different sizes of Idli makers available in the market. Choose one suitable to your needs.

Step 3: Pour Batter

  • Allow the water in the pot comes to a boil before making idlis
  • Mix the batter well before pouring on the idli plates.
  • Spread the cotton clothes over the plates and place the bottom one inside the vessel
  • Pour the batter on the depressions with a ladle.
  • Place the top plate covered with cotton cloth and pour batter in it also
  • Cover the vessel with the lid and cook on high flame

Some idli making vessels may have more than two plates arranged in tiers. You may have to pour the batter beforehand and then place the whole arrangement inside the vessel.

Step 4: Check

The idlis may take six to eight minutes for proper cooking

  • Remove the lid from the idli making vessel
  • Dip your finger in cold water and immediately punch a hole at the center of one idli in the vessel
  • If your finger comes clean, the idlis are properly steamed and can be removed from the vessel
  • If not, allow few more minutes for cooking.

Step 5: Remove Cooked Idlis

  • Take out the plates with the steamed idlis and place them on a plate
  • Sprinkle clean drinking water over the idlis and turn over the idli plate
  • The idlis with the cloth are now on the plate.
  • Apply a light touch of clean water over the cotton cloth and remove idlis one by one
  • Store the idlis in a hot case.

You can repeat the above steps if you want more idlis.

Step 6: Serve Hot

Serve the hot idlis with coconut chutney, spicy tomato chutney and sambar.

I have given the links to my other instructables on how to make sambar, coconut chutney and tomato chutney in the introductory part of this instructable. Please go through them at your convenience.

Have fun making one of those delicious breakfast items of South India...

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