Idly (Idli, Iddaly) is one of the common brekky items in Kerala, in homes and in restaurants alike. It is easy to make, healthy and delicious.

They are steamed rice cakes or dumplings. whitish and soft. Idly should be eaten with Sambhar and Coconut Chutney.   In case, you don’t know what sambhar is, it is a type of slightly sour veg curry.

Idly is made with rice and black lentils (Urad dhal), soaked and ground. The batter is kept overnight to ferment. Portions of fermented batter is steamed to perfection in a dedicated Idli Cooker.

Fermentation breaks down carbohydrates. Idly is not just fluffy, it is easily digestible too.

One of the benefits of Idly is that there is no need to add oil. If you want Idli to be healthier, use brown rice instead of the usual white rice.

It is fair to say Iddaly is one of the safest foods you can eat while in Kerala.

Do you know that Idly and Dosa batter is very similar? Just the rice – black lentil proportion is different, that’s all. You can even use Dosa batter to make Idly and the other way. However, the product won’t be as good.


Idly is an age-old food. There are mentions about it in books that are considered to be hundreds of years old.

The widely held opinion favours South India, as the birth place of Idli. Idly is one of the regular breakfast items in houses all over the south - Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra and Tamil Nadu.

Women like the ease of cooking it. Convenient for them to prepare batter during weekend and use it when they want during the week. Or they just use powdered mix available in the market. 

Idly Cooker 

Idly is made in a dedicated Idly Cooker (Idlythattu). It is a pot with trays inside stacked one above the other.

Making Idly is simple. Fill water at the base of the pot. Pour batter to the pits and stack the trays. Close the lid and heat the pot. As water boils, it cooks the idly above. You can take out cooked Idlys and make new ones by adding batter.

Domestic version Idly Makers have capacity to make 12, 16 or more Idlys at one time. Busy restaurants use commercial steamers or large Idly cooking units to make hundreds of Idlis at once.

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