Kai Idli

Kai Idli

I am sharing a picture of me that was taken in the courtyard of my paternal grandparent’s home in Bangalore, India on the day I turned One . As you can see, I was a ‘healthy’ child 🙂 who grew up in the midst of indulgent grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends. My maternal grandmother could whip up an elaborate and delicious meal for guests in what seemed like no time, while also making tiny servings of whatever the children asked for to play house with the neighborhood kids. There was always something to celebrate, and feasts being served. As with any young mother, apparently my mom kept a watchful eye on what was going into my stomach. To this day, my aunt never fails to remind me of how much I used to  love idlis as a little girl, of how my mom would give me 2-3 in a plate, and how I always asked another relative for an extra as soon as my mom left the room.


Funny thing is that I’ve hardly made idlis over the last few years because in my opinion, it is a pain to soak, blend, ferment, get the measurements & temperature right, steam the batter, and then clean up and put away the dishes!. When I first tasted these at my friend Soumya’s house, it was love at first bite. The flavors of the dill, vegetables, cumin and chillies worked so well. PLUS there was no fermenting! I have made these many times since getting the recipe and they are always a hit. In fact, I always make extra to freeze for another quick meal. [Cool them completely and freeze in double freezer safe bags. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and microwave covered till hot.] By the way, Kai means coconut  in Kannada.


Kai Idli

Kai Idli

(Makes about 40 idlis – this is a large batch, but can be scaled down as needed)

  • 2.5 cups rice

1) Rinse the rice once or twice in cold running water and soak it for 2 hours in warm water.

2) Meanwhile, chop all these ingredients finely.

  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 2 big onions
  • 6-8 green beans
  • 2 medium carrots (grate)

3) Blend all the ingredients below into a fine paste using as little water as possible.***

  • 1 full medium coconut – grated (or 3/4 packet frozen grated coconut)
  • 10-12 green chillies
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 Tbsp cumin (jeera) seeds
  • 1.5 Tbsp corriander (dhania) seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 4 tsp left over rice (if available)

4) Blend the soaked rice into a coarse mixture using *****no more than 2.5 – 3 cups water total (including for masala above)*****.

5) Add the rice, masala & vegetables together with salt ( I used about 2 tsp) and mix well. The batter must be slightly thicker than plain idli batter.

6) Grease your idli plates and pour scant 1/4 cups into each indent. Press down lightly to shape.

7) Steam 14-15 minutes covered.

8) Serve with ghee & coconut chutney.

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