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Idlies: Soft Steamed Rice and Lentil Cakes [Vegan]

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A classic relatively light steamed rice and lentil cake that is a popular breakfast item on Indian tables. Idlies are served with fresh coconut chutney and or a light lentils stew called sambhar. Idlies are made with a naturally fermented sourdough batter, that can be also used for dosas and uthapams. In short, a very versatile and useful batter.

Idlies: Soft Steamed Rice and Lentil Cakes [Vegan]

This Recipe is :

Dairy Free Vegan




  • 2 cups idli or other parboiled rice (do not use Basmati rice for this)
  • 3/4 cup white lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Water for soaking
  • Oil for greasing the molds


  1. Soak the rice and the lentils for at least six hours with about 2 cups of water each. Add the fenugreek seeds and the salt with the rice.
  2. In either a stone grinder or the blender, first, blend the lentils with very little water until light and fluffy.
  3. Remove and set in a large container or in the steel insert of the pressure cooker.
  4. Add the rice mixture and blend until smooth with just a hint of texture. Mix with the lentil mixture. You can use your hands to mix, the bacteria from your hands actually assists with the fermentation.
  5. Place the mixture in a warm place or in your pressure cooker. If using the pressure cooker, set the pressure cooker to the yogurt setting. Let it ferment for 8 hours. Open the lid to be greeted with well-fermented batter.
  6. Grease the idli molds and pour the batter into the molds until about 3/4 filled.
  7. Place an empty pot in your pressure cooker and fill with about 1 and 1/2 cup of water. Place the idli stand in the pressure cooker.
  8. Steam for about 7 minutes and let the pressure release naturally.
  9. Remove and serve hot with your favorite chutney.





Rinku Bhattacharya is a creative Indian cooking teacher and writer, who began teaching Indian cooking almost a decade ago, to share the culture and home flavors of her native India.  Passionate about a conscious lifestyle and seasonal living, she shares her recipes and experiences are chronicled on her blog Spice Chronicles. This concept has translated to two cookbooks. The first is a part memoir, part narrative-style cookbook, "The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles," which was the winner of the 2013 Gourmand Awards for Best Indian Cuisine cookbook. In her second cookbook -- "Spices and Seasons, Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors" -- Rinku offers recipes inspired by the local bounty of the Hudson Valley. The book also offers tips and ideas on creating a green kitchen and reducing your food footprint!



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