Vegetable Idlis

Growing up idli was a regular on the breakfast menu at home. In fact  there was a standing  joke at my home where dad and me used to tell mom that we were going to sprout “idli” trees in our stomachs one day! For the record, idlis are steamed rice and lentil dumplings or rice cakes if you wish to call them and are common across most homes in South India. Hot and soft and white idlis with some chutney or sambhar or  some chilli powder which is specially made to be eaten with idlis are a treat to the palette.  Some lucky households have all 3 combinations of the sides. Idlis are easily digestible and give the person eating them instant energy shots.  I should mention that Idlis are so popular down south that there is a famous south Indian actress (who landed from Bombay and made it big here) who has a version of the recipe names after her!!

Ever heard of idlis stuffed with vegetables?? Some of you might have heard of this but then most of us wouldn’t have. I wouldn’t call this my own creation – I was actually inspired by a picture I saw on FB 🙂 I remember checking out the picture and then forgetting all about it until one day we were lost for choices about what to eat. There was some idly batter but nobody wanted idlis! For some reason people also look down upon the humble idli as they are always easily available….Inspiration struck and I worked on these idlis and made a statement which went something like this: “Those of you who want to eat it, please do and the others make something for yourselves”!!

Well, I didn’t have to worry the idlis were consumed and even appreciated, which made be feel a bit better. Curious? Read on – I am pretty sure that this could be a great way to get your kids eat idlis and vegetables…

Humble Idli – with a make over 🙂

Note: For this recipe I have assumed that you know how to make idlis and probably have the idli batter (home-made or ready-made available).

What you need

  • Idli batter
  • Finely chopped mix of the following vegetables:
    • 1 small onion
    • 1 small capsicum / bell pepper
    • 1 small carrot grated
    • 1 small finely chopped tomato
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • Salt and red chilli powder per taste
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • Finely chopped coriander / cilantro
  • 1 tsp jeera / cumin
  • A pinch of Asafoetida / hing
  • 2 tsp of vegetable / cooking oil

Getting it done

  • To a hot pan, add the oil, jeera and hing or asafoetida. When the jeera starts to sputter, add the onions and saute until they start turning transparent
  • Add the green bell pepper and saute for a few minutes. Follow this up, by adding the tomato and dry spices and salt and saute well
  • When the mixture seems to have cooked add the grated carrot and saute well for 2-3 minutes more.Do a taste check and if you are happy with the taste switch off the stove and keep the vegetables aside, if not adjust seasonings as per your taste and continue to cook

The vegetable mix is ready

Creating the new idli avatar

  • Get you pressure cooker or cooking container ready by filling it with some water at the bottom
  • When the cooking vessel is getting ready grease your idli molds with some vegetable / cooking oil
  • Add little batter to the mold –  Do not over load the mold and fill it completely like you would for normal idlis
  • Now, add a teaspoon or more of the vegetable mixture and spread it gently over the batter. Be gentle and do not press to hard or try to mix the vegetables with the batter. These are supposed to be vegetable stuffed idlis
  • Top this up with some more of the idli batter, such that it covers the vegetable mixture
  • Once you have filled all the molds this way, steam the idlis in the pressure cooker / cooking container as you normally would
  • After about 10-12 minutes, check if the idlis have been cooked, by inserting a skewer or a tooth pick. These should come out clean….
  • Once the idlis have been cooked, switch of the stove and let them rest for sometime
Idli Avatar 2 – Definitely looks different

Do not try to remove the idlis immediately from the hot molds. This would result in producing scraped idlis which are not really pretty to look at! Allow the idlis to rest  in their molds for some time, before you can gently scoop them out with a butter knife of a spoon for beautiful idlis that folks can admire before eating..

Serve with some Sambhar – this is the best combination for these idlis….

The ideas for the stuffing mixture are endless and is totally up to your imagination. Go ahead and try the combinations that you love!  Go ahead and give your idli a make over 🙂


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