A traditional south Indian breakfast, idlis are a steamed rice lentil cake. They are traditionally made by fermenting rice and lentils. Once you have the batter made, these idlis can be on the table in 15 minutes! For this recipe you do need an instant pot and an idli stand, which you can find at an Indian grocery store or online. This recipe will make enough batter for two batches - you can store the batter in the fridge for three to four days!
Instant Pot Idlis (Steamed Rice Lentil Cakes) with Coconut Chutney [Vegan]
For the idlis:
- 1/2 cup split and dehusked black gram lentil/urad dal dhuli
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds/methi seeds
- 2 cups idli rice (short-grain rice)
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups water, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the coconut chutney:
- 1 cup freshly grated or desiccated coconut
- 1-inch piece ginger
- 1-2 green chilies
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2-3/4 cup water
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
- Pinch of asafetida
- 1/2 teaspoon split and dehusked black gram lentil/urad dal dhuli
- 2 dried red chilies
- 10-15 curry leaves
- Put the urad dal and fenugreek seeds in a large bowl. Rinse three to four times and then soak in 1 cup of water for 5 to 6 hours, or overnight. In another bowl, add the rice and rinse until the water turns clear, then soak in 4 cups of water for the same amount of time as the dal. Drain the water from the dal first, then transfer the soaked dal and fenugreek seeds to a high-speed blender.
- Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water and blend on medium-high speed for 1 minute, until you have a fine paste. Transfer to the steel pot of an Instant Pot. Drain the rice. Rinse the blender and add the rice and 3/4 to 1 cup of water. Grind to a coarse paste.
- Add the rice to the steel pot and mix well with the lentil batter. Add a few tablespoons of water at a time, up to about 1/4 cup, to make a thick, pourable batter. Do not add too much water, as you don’t want it to be watery. Using your hands, add the salt to the batter and mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Mixing the salt by hand aids in the fermentation process. The batter will be somewhere between the 3 to 4-cup mark in your Instant Pot.
- Place the steel pot back into the Instant Pot and press the yogurt button. Set the time to 12 hours and place the lid on top. The pressure valve can either be in the sealing or venting position. After 12 hours, the batter should have fermented and doubled in volume. It will be around the 8-cup mark or even higher. If it hasn’t fermented, press the yogurt button again and set the time to 2 hours or until it's fermented. Use fermented batter to make idlis and dosas.
- Spray an idli stand with nonstick spray or brush it with a little oil. Fill each cavity of the idli stand with the prepared idli–dosa batter. You should be able to get 16 to 18 idlis out of 4 cups of the batter. You can save the rest of the batter for another use. Pour 1 cup of water into the inner steel pot of your instant pot and then place the idli stand inside the Instant Pot and close the lid. Press the steam button and let it steam for 12 to 13 minutes, with the pressure valve in the venting position. When the valve is in the venting position, the Instant Pot does not display the timer, so you have to time it manually.
- After 12 to 13 minutes, unplug the Instant Pot. The pressure valve will come down within a minute or two. Open the lid and carefully remove the idli stand from the pot. Remove idlis from each cavity and serve with coconut chutney and chai or coffee.
- For the chutney, pulse together the coconut, ginger, green chili, salt and the water to a fine paste in a blender. Transfer the chutney to a bowl. To make the tempering for the chutney, add the oil to a small pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let them pop for a few seconds, then add the asafetida, urad dal and dried red chilies.
- Sauté for a few seconds until the dal starts turning golden brown in color. Add the curry leaves (it will sizzle a lot, so add the curry leaves, then quickly move away from the pan), sauté for a few seconds and then remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the tempering to the bowl of coconut chutney and mix. Serve coconut chutney with idlis and dosa.
Note: The same batter used for the idlis can be used to make dosas, which are rice and lentil crepes filled with spiced potatoes and other veggies.