Idli is a popular breakfast made by steaming lentils and rice with spices. It is typically eaten with coconut chutney and sambar. The idli has many variations including the rava idli, the peanut idli, and even the kozhukattai-style (onion) idli. Some people like to eat it twice a day because of its low calorie count of 150 calories per serving. It can be stored for a long time without refrigeration, and its portability makes it popular among students.
The exact origin of idli is unknown, but it is believed to have been developed in ancient India centuries before the common era and has continued as one of the most important food items in South Indian cuisine. One commonly cited derivation of “idli” comes from the Tamil word meaning ‘steamed’. The other theory says that it derived from “endal”, Tamil for fermented foods. However, the word “idli” is also used in the Malayalam language for a variety of fermented foods.
Idli is made from lentils and rice flour. It is a very simple recipe which does not require any complicated equipment or skills. The only challenge is ensuring that the batter does not dry out during steaming.
In an idli cooker, there are two types of idli. One type contains no oil and the other has oil. The difference is that the oily type takes a shorter time to steam in the cooker. These idlis are heavier when compared to the non-oily idlis. Using oil also makes the idlis softer and increases their shelf life.
To prepare an Idli, one needs:
The batter can also be mixed with some steamed vegetables or even some roasted vegetables like potatoes and groundnuts. A vegetable Pachadi (chutney) is often eaten along with Idli, Sambar and Curry.
Idli is traditionally made in a device known as an “idli cooker”.