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Idly (Idli)

Idly (Idli) is the staple food for Tamils and South Indians.

Typically Tamil people will have Idly for breakfast for several days a week. Sometimes it is served for dinner also. In some South Indian restaurants, Idly is available throughout the day.

Idly with Sambar is considered the most healthiest breakfast in India and is proven after the result of survey "India breakfast habits study" in four Indian metros.

Making the Idly batter is a process that needs one full day - the process includes soaking the rice and de husked Black lentils (Ulundhu) (Vigna Mungo), grinding them and leaving the batter for fermentation.

Nowadays Idli-Dosai batter is readily available in super markets throughout Tamil Nadu and South India. It is readily available In America and other Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia too.

There are variations in Idly too like changing the shape of the Idli or stuffing Idli with carrot for example. Let us see how a typical Idly is made.

Things needed
  • Idli Pot
  • Laddle
  • Cloth for Idly

Take a small amout of batter (good to enough to make 5 Idlis).
Note that, this batter should be in room temperature.
If you have just taken it out from the fridge, keep it in the room for 30 min to 1 hour before cooking.


Take the Idli pot. (There are 2 kinds of Idly pot. One that can be steamed with a piece of cloth covered and the other without a cloth. I always prefer to cook them with a cloth on as the cooked Idly will be soft)

Heat up the Idli pot with 4 cups of water in it.
Take the Idli tray and Place a wet cloth on the tray.

Pour the batter into Idli mold on the tray.
Close the lid of the Idly pot and steam the Idly for 7-10 minutes (in gas stove).

Based on the size of the Idly and freshness of the batter, this time will vary. The first day batter will take less than 7 min while second batter takes 8 or more min to cook


Once steamed, open the lid of the Idly pot.
You will see Idly ready to eat.
Be very CAREFUL when you open the lid as hot steam will come out immediately.
Use oven mitt or a piece of dry clean cloth and take the Idly tray and tilt it upside down on a plate.



Touch little bit of cold water and then pick the tip of the cloth to get the Idly out.
Idly is ready to be served.

Serve it in a plate along with side dish (chutney in this example)


In restaurants, they serve Idly with several side dishes. Typically you will have Idly sambar, Coconut chutney, Mint chutney or Green chutney and occasionally Idli podi.

Take a bite of Idly and mix it with one or multiple side dishes and eat.

Other names/spelling variations of Idly:
Idly, Idli, Mallipoo Idly (named after a flower to denote the Idly is very soft and white in color), Now and then Idly are named after famous people like Tamil movie stars, for example Kushpoo Idly

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