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Idli: A Fermented, Gluten-Free Snack


steamed idlis with sauces

Idlis with Two Dips


I love to make and eat idlis.  I call them “little steamed rice pillows”, and they are traditionally  a popular breakfast food throughout Southern India.
Although the process of preparing the idli batter takes time, the effort is well worth it because slow food is good food.  The extra time used to soak, and ferment the ingredients serves three purpose:
1) Soaking grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds removes phytic acid which inhibits proper digestion.
2) Fermentation helps to break down starches, making it easier for us to digest and metabolize nutrients.
3) Fermentation makes for a richer , more complex flavor.

There are various recipes which I have tried, and I would like to share my latest idli creation using a beautiful organic pink rice from Madagascar.
The pink hue of this sustainably harvested rice offered by Lotus Foods gives the idlis an alluring blush which is very pleasing to behold, and adds a wonderful delicate floral ambiance that conventional rice does not provide.

Idli served with curry falvored sauerkraut and yogurt.

Idli served with a spicy, Golden Sauerkraut and yogurt.










Click HERE for a recipe on how to make your own Golden Sauerkraut.

Idli: A Fermented, Gluten-Free Snack


  • 1/2 cup Madagascar Pink Rice from Lotus Foods, or basmatic rice
  • 1/2 cup urid dal, or black gram in English (de-husked)
  • Filtered water for soaking rice and legume
  • 3/4 cup filtered water (or a little more as needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Oil for brushing (ghee, butter, olive oil, or coconut oil)
  • Equipment: idli steamer
  • If you do not have one, try using a cupcake pan or ramekins. BUT it is so much fun using a real idli steamer.


  1. Place the rice and urid dal in a medium glass, ceramic, or stainless bowl.
  2. Cover with filtered water by 2 - 3 inches and allow to soak for 4 - 5 hours or overnight.
  3. Strain the soaking water when ready, and place rice/urid mixture into a blender. Add in the 3/4 cup water.
  4. Blend until mixture is very smooth and has the consistency of a very thick pancake batter. Add in a little more water as needed, but be careful not to add in too much.
  5. Pour the mixture into a medium glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel.
  6. Allow mixture to ferment for at least 6 - 8 hours, preferably in a warm place, and away from light.
  7. When ready, prepare the idli steamer by brushing the compartments with the oil of choice.
  8. Fill each compartment with a good rounded tablespoon of the fermented batter.
  9. Steam for about 10 minutes or until idlis are set.
  10. (If you have an idli maker, then fill a large pot with about 2 - 3 inches water, and bring to simmer. Place the idli maker into the pot, cover, and steam.
  11. If you are using other types of molds, then place in a steamer.)
  12. Serve idlis with chutney, sambar, yogurt, or any sauce that appeals to you.
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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Linda January 24, 2015, 10:58 am

    What delicious recipes. Can’t wait to try the golden sauerkraut.

    • Karen January 24, 2015, 4:14 pm

      Hi Linda,
      I’ll bring some over to your house. : )

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