Idli,Kara Vada N Coconut Chutney

As Onam Festival,is just around the corner ,Malaysian Delicacies (MD) will be sharing some vegetarian dishes with all of you.The first being the famous Idli and coconut chutney.We can utilise the same batter to prepare Kara Vada as well. Therefore ,the Vada recipe is also provided. Do come back ,as MD  will be sharing more recipe ideas with all of you for ONAM.

Idli  is a traditional breakfast food in south Indian households. It is a savoury cake of south Indian origin popular throughout India. The cakes are usually two to three inches in diameter and are made by steaming a batter consisting of fermented black lentils (de-husked) and rice. The fermentation process breaks down the starches so that they are more readily metabolized by the body. Most often eaten at breakfast or as a snack, idlis are usually served in pairs with chutney, sambar, or other accompaniments. Mixtures of crushed dry spices such as malagai podi/spicy powder are the preferred condiment for idlis eaten on the go. In Malaysia, every Indian household at times prepares idlis for breakfast or dinner .Indian restaurants in Malaysia ,also have idli in their menu. With the same batter ,we can also prepare kara vada or spicy vada. That’s why I have combined both recipes today .At times I make idli the first day and kara vada the next day for breakfast. It is compulsory to have chutney along with the vadas as it compliments each other well.

There are a few points that one has to mention in preparing the batter.
1. You can use the combination of par boiled rice and urad dal , or 1 cup of parboiled rice, 1 cup white/jasmine  rice along with urad dal. The ratio is always 2:1 which is 2 parts of uncooked rice to 1 part urad dal.My mum always uses this combination as she makes dosa the first day and then idli the next .The combination of both rices’ ,allows one  to make both dosa and idli. I  have always used 2 parts jasmine rice to 1 part urad dal.When you are doing dosa/tosai the former would be advisable but for making idli the latter is better.This is because using normal white rice gives a softer  texture to the idlis.
2. If you are doing dosa, then you have to soak separately the raw rice and urad dhal and also grind it into a very finer texture like whipped cream .But for idli, the batter can be coarsely grinded  .
3.The cooked white rice used should not be overcooked  as the top layer of the idli will be sticky once steamed.Therefore,the cooked rice used for grinding for idli  should be in the right texture.

2 cups uncooked  jasmine rice
1 cup whole urad dhal/black lentils/black gram(I do not use the split urad dal)
11/4  cup  cooked white rice
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp salt

Soak uncooked rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds for 5 hours or more.Normally I soak the rice in the morning and grind them around 5pm for  morning breakfast the following day.Drain the water, and mix in the cooked rice.Usually ,I grind the rice into a fine paste ,as I , use the same batter to prepare kara vadas .If you are planning only in preparing idlis then you can grind it coarsely. Take note not to use a lot of water when grinding as idlis need thick batter unlike for dosa. Occasionally use a spoon or your hand to combine the grinded ingredients in the mixer .Transfer in a stainless steel multi purpose pot.Make sure the pot is large enough to accommodate the batter  to expand and rise.Add salt .My father normally beats the mixture well with a ladle.Yup, my dad also has some talent in cooking ! The batter has no problem in expanding the next day!! But I have a problem when I follow suit as the batter refuses to rise ! Therefore, I use my hand to stir the salt into the batter.This helps in expanding the batter to double.Use whichever method you prefer,the ladle or hand .I think my hand has the humidity to help in rising the volume (winks) of the batter.If you have a batter that has not doubled in volume ,then the idli that you steam will not rise well. 

The first image shows the batter after 4 hours.
Leave the batter to ferment overnight, until it has expanded to about 2½ times its original volume.As I have mentioned earlier, I have no problem as long I use my hand! If you are a first timer doing idli , then do check occasionally to see whether the batter had  risen or not.
The second image shows the risen batter the next day .I had closed with a lid therefore it do not have a full rounded shape.I normally place a flat pan at the bottom as my batter tends to spill over  the next day.

In the morning, beat the batter well with a ladle and pour into a buttered or margarined -greased molds of an idli tray for steaming. Note that a traditional method normally used by my dad  is to avoid greasing and uses pure white cloth which is placed on moulds and batter is poured over it.Once the idlis are cooked the trays along with cloth are inverted upside down in a plate & water is sprinkled on the cloth, then the cloth is pulled & idlis come out without sticking to the cloth. So that idlis are prepared without a single drop of oil / ghee/butter. Those cloths are washed and kept separately for later use. The latest idli steamer available in the market do safe us a lot of  hard work .The perforated molds allow the idlis to be cooked evenly. The tree holds the trays above the level of boiling water in a pot, and the pot is covered until the idlis are done (about 10–25 minutes, depending on size). You can check by using a tooth pick .If it comes out clean then the idlis are done.Slowly take out the idli tree and bend it towards the sink, so that the excess water on the tray and idli can be discarded.Leave the idlis to cool in the tray for about 3 mins.Use a greased plastic spatula to take out the idlis from the molds.If you want to steam again, clean the molds ,grease it again and then pour the batter .Ensure that you beat the batter before pouring into the molds.Left over batter can be refrigerated in a plastic container and used within 3 days.
I had read that in the olden days, when the idli mold cooking plates were not popular or widely available, the thick idli batter was poured on a cloth tightly tied on the mouth of a concave deep cooking pan or tava half filled with water. A heavy lid was placed on the pan and the pot kept on the boil until the batter was cooked into idli. This was often a large idli depending on the circumference of the pan. It was then cut into bite-size pieces and eaten. Frankly preparing idli is very easy.Once you know the trick and tips,of course !!  ha ha
Idlis are usually served in pairs with Coconut chutney Ulli Chutney (Onion chutney), Sambar and Idli malagai podi(karam/spicy podi) with ghee and even with chicken or fish curry.

Image Desc: From left: Idlis, kara vadas,fish curry ,coconut chutney and radish/mulenge sambar

Kara Vadas
(Makes 8 big vadas)
As mentioned earlier , I used the same batter that I normally use to make idlis for kara vadas.For kara vada the ratio of the batter and gram flour is 3:1 .Which means for every 3 ladleful batter used, 1 ladleful gram flour is needed . Lets check out the ingredients.

3 ladleful idli or dosa batter
1 ladleful gram flour/kadala flour
 1 ½  tbsp gram dal (soaked for 2 hrs)
2 tbsp sago (make  into powder)
2 sprigs curry leaves(julienne)
3 green chillies(chopped)
50gm shallots(chopped finely)
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp soda bicarbonate
1 tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp kayam/hing  powder
Salt to taste
A pinch of yellow and red colouring (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together and place handful of batter into moderately heated oil. Deep fry until golden brown.Serve with coconut chutney.

Coconut Chutney
For tempering:
2 dried red chillies(break into 3 parts)
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt to taste

Grind into a paste
1 cup grated coconut
2 green chillies
¾ in ginger

Heat a skillet with 1 tbsp oil in low heat, add in dried chillies ,followed by mustard seeds.Once it starts spluttering , add in urad dal and stir fry until the urad dal turns brownish.Add in the coconut paste , add some water if the paste is too thick (about ½  cup ).Stir until well combined with the rest of the ingredients.Close fire immediately.There is no need to cook the coconut paste as the heat from the skillet is enough to cook the paste.Add salt to taste and curry leaves.Stir . Serve with dosa ,idlis or vadas.
Note: You can grind the coconut coarsely or to a fine paste .I prefer to grind into a fine paste .

Links For :
Fish Curry
Chicken Curry

The above recipes are heading to South Indian Kitchen Series Event by Anu's Healthy Kitchen, and at present hosted by Nivedhanams

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest - Indian Subcontinent hosted by Chef and Sommelier,May 2014


  1. Thanks for sharing,would love to try but have to get the idli mould first I think.

  2. yumm, look at that spread , Love idli and vada , thanks for the recipes

  3. looks super delicious!!! Thanks for linking it to my event!! Looking for more yummy recipes!!


  4. Thank you very much for sharing your recipes. Your detailed instructions and many photographs were very useful for beginners and even better than some cookbooks that
    have very brief and vague instructions. I made dosa and kara vada using the recipe above it was awesome and delicious.


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