Idli, a delicious, gut-friendly food from south India

These delicate, fluffy, moon-like Idlis–steamed, south Indian style lentil and rice cakes–are not just fun to eat, they are fat-free, full of protein, and really great for you.

If you love fermented foods and understand the immense benefits they bring to your health, you should be making Idli, a five-ingredient dish that originated in south India and has dug roots in kitchens across the rest of India and in Indian kitchens around the world.

Even if you aren’t Indian, you’ve likely at least eaten an Idli at an Indian restaurant. This porous, fluffy white disc could easily be the healthiest food in the world and it is made of two basic and very healthy building blocks — rice and lentils. Eaten by itself, an idli tastes bland. But served with a sambar and a green coconut chutney, it becomes one of the most delicious foods you will ever eat. 

Here are the ingredients you need to make idlis:

All of these are easily available at Indian groceries or online.

  • Parboiled rice
  • Brown rice (white rice is fine too)
  • Black gram lentils or udad dal
  • Flattened rice or poha 
  • Fenugreek or methi seeds

Idlis are delicious, moon-like rice and lentil cakes from South India. Probiotic and extremely healthy, they make a great breakfast or snack food.


  • 1 cup black gram lentils (udad dal)
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ cup flattened rice (poha)
  • 1 cup parboiled rice
  • 1 cup brown rice (white rice is fine too)

Instructions – Make the idli batter

  • Place the black gram lentils in a bowl with the flattened rice and fenugreek seeds and cover by at least two inches of water. Set aside to soak at least six hours or overnight.
  • Mix the parboiled rice and brown rice in another bowl and cover them with at least two inches of water. Set aside, again for at least six hours or overnight.
  • Drain the lentils and grind them in a high powered blender, adding just enough water to get a batter that’s the consistency of a thick pancake batter. The batter should be very smooth. Remove the batter to a large bowl.
  • Add the rice to the blender, again with enough water to create the consistency of a thick pancake batter. This time, grind until the batter still has a slight coarseness — you don’t want to see broken grains of rice, but the batter should have a slight grittiness, like that of cornmeal, when you rub it between your fingers.


Serving: 4idli | Calories: 175kcal | Carbohydrates: 35.3g | Protein: 6.3g | Fat: 1g | Fiber: 2.8g | Sugar: 0.1g | Iron: 1.6mg

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