Kanchi idlis- the royal avatar of plain old idlis


What marks Kanchi idlis from their common cousins is the extra time needed to get them cooked properly. The time notwithstanding, the ordinary idli will come nowhere near Kanchi idli in taste. They are cut like halwa into smaller pieces. Quite interesting is the fact that the sides of the idli thus cut have ornate designs on its sides like a saree would.

Though the traditional chammanthi and the sambar go well with Kanchi idlis, its best matching dishes are the chammanthi mixed with gingelly oil, pudina chammanthi, and ulli chammanthi.


1 cup boiled rice

1 cup raw rice

1 cup urad dal

3 tbsp cashew nuts

A pinch of crushed pepper

1 tbsp ghee

1 tbsp asafoetida

A pinch of crushed cumin seeds

4 sprigs of curry leaves


Step 1: Soak the boiled rice, raw rice and urad dal separately overnight. Grind the three items separately the next day. Ensure that the batter is not ground to a smooth paste. It should be ground coarsely and should have the feel of semolina. Once ground, mix the three and set aside to ferment.

The best course would be to grind the ingredients in the evening to make the idlis the next morning. Kanchi idlis need just two hours of fermentation. However, the longer it€™s kept, the tastier the idlis. If you are short of time, add two spoons of curds to the batter which will hasten the fermentation process.

Step 2: Add the cashew nuts, asafoetida, crushed cumin seeds, crushed pepper and curry leaves to the batter and mix well.

Step 3: Pour the batter into bamboo moulds or onto plantain leaves spread in idli dishes. In case you are steaming them in moulds, tie the mouth of the moulds with plantain leaves to prevent the batter from spilling over.

Step 4: The moulds can be lowered into idli dishes and steamed the traditional way. While the common idlis need only 15 minutes to rise and look chubby, the exotic Kanchis need two hours to come to shape and taste.

Step 5: Once they are ready, they can be taken out of the moulds or from the idli dishes and cut when they cool down.

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