Thursday, 8 February, 2007

Kancheepuram Idli

All my dosa batter is depleted. For me, that's a very profound state of affairs. I bank on a Tupperware container full of batter, ground on Sunday, to last breakfast for the entire week.

Of course, the batter manifests itself on the breakfast table in various avatars. On day one and two, it's soft, fluffy idlis with coconut chutney or milagai podi (gun powder). The third and forth days, you have crisp dosas with tomato masiyal (recipe via another post) or ginger/groundnut chutney.

By the fifth/sixth day, the in-laws are politely inquiring about the age of the batter while the kids are complaining vociferously. So out comes the batter with finely chopped onion as thick, crisp oothappam or crisp-outside-soft-inside kuzhi paniyaaram!! By day seven, the batter has sunk to the nadir of the Tupperware, so the masking is not worth the trouble. At this juncture, I add the leftover to freshly ground adai or pesarattu batter. Not a drop wasted!

Well, coming back to today's issue, it was just Thursday and the idli/dosa batter, a South Indian woman's best friend, was already depleted, thanks to a hungry bunch of guests yesterday night. Time-pressed that I was, I couldn't grind fresh batter, so I decided to make Kancheepuram idli for tomorrow's breakfast. It's easy to prepare and great to eat.

I'm not sure if these idlis originated in Kanchipuram, but I'm told it's offered as neivedyam for the Varadarajaperumal deity there.

Recipe for Kancheepuram idli:

Raw rice: 1 cup
Par-boiled rice: 1 cup

(alternately, you can take 2 cups of raw rice)

Urad dal - 1 cup

Curds - 1/2 cup

Masala: Black pepper, cumin seeds, 1-inch ginger piece, 1 sprig curry leaves and salt to taste

Mustard, black gram and bengal gram for seasoning.

Gingelly oil - about 5 teaspoons

Soak the urad dal and rice separately for about two hours. Grind the urad dal (I use a food processor or mixie, since the quantity is small and doesn't require the wet grinder) to a fine paste. This takes about 3 minutes. Remove this and then grind the rice to a coarse paste, which takes about 3 minutes again. Do not add salt at this stage, as it tends to dilute the batter. Mix the ground urad dal and rice and store.

After about 8 hours, your Kancheepuram idli batter is ready. Grind the black pepper, cumin seeds, ginger, curry leaves and salt to a coarse powder. Heat the gingelly oil and add mustard. When it sputters, add the black gram and bengal gram and toss till golden brown. Now switch off the stove and immediately add the ground masala powder and turn till it gives off a nice flavor. Add this to the batter with the curds.

The seasoning requires at least 5 teaspoons of gingelly oil. This is essential to obtain the genuine taste of this idli.

Here comes the interesting part. Kancheepuram idli typically comes in odd shapes. For want of other options, you can cook it in your regular idli mold. Else, pour the batter to about an inch thickness in a round vessel and cook (in a cooker/microwave/electric cooker). This takes about 20 minutes. On removing, you can cut it into various shapes.

I have purchased a cute Kancheepuram idli mold from Ramanathan's in Chennai. It has six small cups arranged on a plate. This can be cooked in an idli cooker or a regular cooker. This takes about 10 minutes.

Serve hot with chutney/gun powder. This idli tastes just as good when it's not warm. Also, it doesn't spoil for at least 48 hours. So it's ideal travel food. Apart from being a godsend when your dosa batter is depleted, of course.


shammi said...

Hi Inbavalli!

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and congrats on starting your own! :) I'm going to try your version of Kanchipuram idli as soon as my mom arrives here with the all-important ingredient - nallennai!!! Cant wait! :)

PS. Which newspaper/magazine do you work for, or are you a freelance journo?

Inbavalli said...

Thanks, Shammi. Coming from a seasoned food blogger, it's indeed a compliment.

I'm a freelancer, dabbling in just about anything that involves the 26 letters of the English alphabet ;-)

Triv said...

Appreciate you posting a comment on my blog. Looks like you share a similar passion for food!! Welcome to blog writing and lots more good cooking!

Triv said...

Appreciate your comments on my blog. Welcome to blog writing. Happy to know there's someone else out there who truly understands good food!!

Inbavalli said...

Thanks, Triv. Good to know a techie is sparing time to food-blog.

Ramki said...


I've blogged your Idli as a model recipe in the 1001 Idli cookbook at

/Thanks for the detailed recipe


Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

sudha said...

Hi Inbavalli

I'm Mrs.Sudha Arunkumar here.The recipe for kanchivaaram idli is simply superb.T tried it and it has come out very tasty.A good change for a breakfast from the routine idli,dosa,puri or chappathi.

Rajani said...

great description,a picture to accompany would have been super!

Sabitha said...

Hi Inbavalli,

Sabitha here...i was desperate for a good recipe on this iddlyand was thrilled to find it in your page. Just reading it was mouth watering..and thx for the input on those spl cups/moulds from i go to try this one out...

veena said...

Hi Inbavalli,

Thank u for the recipe.


Anuradha Nithyanandh said...

Hi Inbavalli, I tried out your recipe exactly the way u had explained and it came out really tasty. THanks.

Srimadhan Varadarajan said...

Eat this ancient recipe as well
Mystic India - So many seekers' from all over the world are coming to see the REAL INDIA every year, they plan a hectic schedule for one (or) two months they visit all the ancient temples etc. They visit it like tourists and they grossly miss the real meanings. For example they visit the ancient rock temple of Kancheepuram Kailasanathar temple wherein there are so many empty mandapams all around the temples. People casually see this structure and goes off. But if they make it a point to sit on this "places " immediately with in a minute, they will notice that the mind becomes no mind in No time and all the inner traffic stops as if stopped by external force.

This is the secret of this place, so any one can reach this no mind, if a person can sit in absolute no mind for an hour, so many happen inside his being, he could get transpirational also. Suppose if a Ripe Person sits in the place, he could get transported to the next level of higher consciousness with out much effort.

Ellora Cave temples of Aurangabad is a larger version of Kailasanathar temple

Please visit our website