Beginning the mornings with Idli

You are what you have for breakfast. This was the topic I had to speak on in my class and I was given a minute prepare for a 5 minute speech. The first thought that came to my mind was this – Good breakfast means happy me and happy me means  a good day. It sounded very frivolous for me to say that in front of the class and I ended up elaborating on  this idea that breakfast is a metaphor for the values we are given as a child and what we are when we grow up depends on these values. But for this post I will stick to my first thought.

Idlis are my favourite and I can have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But unfortunately , they are not quite popular as dosas according to me. Two (or three or even four) of these fluffy, soft , white idlis alongwith chutney and sambhar makes for a filling breakfast. The secret of the soft idlis lies in the batter. This idli batter is one of the most handy thing to have  in the kitchen. You can make dosas, idlis, oothappams, kuzhi paniyarams and even bajji ( similar to pakoras) from the same batter. Earlier, I was not very satisfied with the kind of idlis I used to make – they were a bit too firm for my liking and not so white as I liked them to be.

When I was speaking to my mum, she suggested I add poha to the rice while grinding for the batter. I did and came up with my dream idli. Mums are always right.


Making Idli Batter

2 cups idli rice/par boiled rice

1/4 cup urad dal

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

salt to taste

1/4 cup poha ( flattened rice)


1.Wash and Soak the rice and dal separately in water for a minimum of 2 hours. Add the fenugreek seeds alongwith the urad dal.

2. Keep the poha separately, immersed in water

3. Having a wet grinder will be helpful for grinding the batter but I guess mixies should work too.

4. Drain the water from the rice and put in the wet grinder or mixie to grind.  Add the poha. Do not add water in one go. Add water little by little as required. The batter must be soft and should not be grainy when you rub it between fingers. Take the ground batter and put it in a bowl

5. Now grind the urad dal and the fenugreek seeds separately in  a mixie. I do this way because I soak only a 1/4 cup of urid dal for my requirements. In case you double the recipe, grind the urid dal in the grinder first. Take the ground dal and keep in a bowl. Now add the rice and poha and grind

6. Once the urid dal is ground add it to the rice batter.

7. Mix with your hands till they form a uniform batter.

8. Keep it covered and let it ferment for a minimum of 9 hours.

Making idlis

1. Pour the fermented idli batter in the greased idli moulds and steam for about 20-25 minutes.

Soft white idlis are ready to be devoured.

Although many like idlis with the classic combo of chutney and sambhar, I like to have my idlis with milaga podi or idl podi or ‘gun powder ‘ as it is called by my north-Indian friends since the powder is hot spicy. I mix the idli powder with sesame oil and dip my idlis in it. Try this and you will never get back to chutney again.

How to make Milaga Podi/ Idli Podi


1/2 cup urad dal

5-7 dried red chillies ( as per your spice-o-meter)

1/8th teaspoon hing

salt to taste.


1. In a pan, add a teaspoon of oil and roast all the ingredients mentioned above excl. the salt. Roast till you get a nice aroma and the urad dal is reddish in colour.

2. Let them cool. Powder it in a mixie after adding table salt as per requirements.

3. Take a spoon and mix it with sesame oil and dig in your idlis.


Some useful tips

1. Addition of fenugreek seeds give a nice flavour to the idlis. So as far as possible do add them

2. If you want take the idli from the moulds immediately after steaming, dip a spoon in cold water and remove the idlis. They will come out smoothly without sticking in the moulds.

3. Always mix the urad dal batter and the rice batter with hand.

My friend Anita  who blogs here, loves breakfast and she is holding a breakfast banter to collect breakfast recipes. This effort of hers has woken me up from my hiatus. Thank you, Anu and I am so happy to be sharing this recipe with you





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