South India Recipes – Idli & Chutney

Masala Dosa with Idli and Chutney

Masala Dosa with Idli and Chutney

Idlis are very popular in South India. Basically a savoury rice steamed rice cake, they are most often eaten at breakfast or as a snack and are usually served in pairs with chutney and sambar. Idli is a very old and traditional dish in southern Indian cuisine and are mentioned in writings that date back as far as 920 AD.

The idli began life as a dish made only of fermented black lentil. However, there is no known record of rice being added until sometime in the 17th century when it may have been found that the rice helped speed the fermentation process. Although the ingredients used in preparing idli have changed, the preparation process and the name have remained the same.


  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 cup urad daal (white – split black gram)
  • 1½ tbsp salt
  • pinch of baking soda
  • oil for greasing


  1. Pick, wash and soak the daal overnight or for 8 hours.
  2. Pick, wash and drain the rice. Grind it coarsely in a blender.
  3. Grind the daal into a smooth and frothy paste.
  4. Now mix the grinded rice and daal together into a batter.
  5. Mix salt and set aside in a warm place for 8-9 hours or overnight for fermenting.
  6. Idlis are ready to be cooked when the batter is well fermented. Grease the idle holder or pan well and fill each of them 3 quarters full with batter.
  7. Steam cook idlis on medium flame for about 10 minutes or until done. Use a butter knife to remove the idlis.
  8. Serve with sambar or chutney.