Monday, March 16, 2020

Recipe of the month: Mallige Idli

Idli is something that I've grown up eating. Although I was never particularly fond of idlis as a (fussy) child, over the years, I have gained respect and even developed a liking for this humble South Indian breakfast staple. I'm so glad my kids aren't like me and they genuinely enjoy idlis dunked in sambhar and coconut chutney (although they always ask me if I have made medhu vada as well!). 

I have never ever used store-bought idli or dosa batter and I don't see myself using it in the future either (other than in an emergency maybe). Not that I think there is anything wrong with that but it is just that the process of buying good quality ingredients, soaking and grinding the ingredients and the process of fermentation that gives me a profound sense of joy. It is only the process of cleaning out the wet stone grinder that I don't look forward to 😅

Since the past decade, I have made idlis in my kitchen using a combination of urad dal and idli rava. That is how both my mum and MIL have been making idli at home and how I was taught as well. Most of the time, I use the idli trays but rarely I use the long steel tumblers to give it a kadubu-like appearance. The only other variation of idli that I make on a regular basis is rava idli (the easier no-grind, no-fermentation variation that is quite delicious too).   

Hailing from the city of Mysore, Mallige idli is all too familiar to me. Mallige idli is a Karnataka speciality which is named after the pleasantly perfumed Jasmine flowers in kannada. The epithet has to do with both colour and texture. These idles are snow white, super soft and spongier than regular idles. 

I have been wanting to try this method of making idli for so long but I just never got around to doing it. The weather we have in Singapore is warm and humid all year round so we never have any issues with fermentation. On the contrary, on several occasions I have come into the kitchen groggy-eyed to witness an idli batter explosion as a result of the batter swelling too much! 

The wonderful texture of the mallige idli is obtained by using idli rice, sago and beaten rice flakes to make the batter. I've seen some recipes using yoghurt but I didn't follow that because I was worried the batter would turn sour especially if the weather was warmer than usual. Most restaurants add baking soda to the batter by default but I don't add any baking soda in this recipe yet the idlis turn out soft and pillowy. 

This was a huge hit with my family the first time I made it and I've made it a couple of times since then. Henceforth, I will probably alternate between this recipe and my former recipe with idli rava.

This is how a typical weekend idli breakfast looks like in my household 😋 

And we don't worry about leftover batter around here. If you are not sure whether to turn leftover idli batter into more idlis, crispy thin dosas or uthappams, I suggest you do all three like I do 😆 Why make that difficult choice right? 😛

Mallige Idli

Preparation time: ~16 hours (includes soaking time and overnight fermentation time)
Cooking time: 10-12 min per batch
Recipe category: Breakfast/South Indian
Recipe level: Intermediate
Recipe source: From a Facebook group called Aduge Aramane 
Serves: 6-8


1 cup whole urad dal 
2 cups idli rice
1/2 cup poha/avalakki (beaten rice flakes)
1/2 cup sabudana/sabakki (sago pearls)
2 tsp sea salt
Water as required
A few drops of oil 


For making Idli Batter:

1. Wash and soak the urad dal, idli rice and sago separately in ample water for 5 to 6 hours.

2. Note that the poha or beaten rice flakes need to be soaked only for 15 mins so do this just before grinding. You can either use the thick variety and soak for 15 mins or use the thin variety and just wash and drain before using. 

3. Using a wet stone grinder (preferably) or a powerful blender, grind the urad dal and poha along with the soaked water until it turns fluffy and into a fine paste.

4. Collect this paste in a large vessel and keep aside. 

5. Now grind the rice and sago with the soaked water until it is a slightly coarse paste. Add in the sea salt and grind for an additional minute. Note that salt does not inhibit the fermentation process so you can add it beforehand. 

6. Now transfer this ground mixture to the vessel with the urad dal-poha paste. Mix very well (using hands yields better results). The batter should neither be too thick or thin. A milkshake or custard consistency is what we are aiming for. 

7. I usually divide the batter into two containers (one I use to make idli the same morning for breakfast and the other one I immediately stash in the fridge to make dosa or uthappam for dinner or next day breakfast). Cover it with the lid and let it ferment overnight for 8-12 hours (depending on how warm the weather is). The next day you will notice that the batter would have risen. 

How to make idli:

1. Grease the idli plates with oil or ghee. I use coconut oil to keep the idlis white in color. Lightly mix the fermented batter with the ladle and pour it on the greased idli plates.

2. Place the prepared idli stand in the cooker and steam cook this for 10-12 minutes on medium-high flame. A skewer or knife inserted in the middle should come out clean if cooked through. 

3. Turn off the heat and wait for 5-10 minutes, and then using a butter knife or spoon to gently pry the idlis out and keep them in a hotbox.

4. Enjoy the hot mallige idlis with spicy sambar and/or any chutney of your choice!

  • Buy good-quality ingredients for great tasting idlis
  • Idli rice is highly recommended but if you cannot get it then sona masuri is acceptable
  • The urad dal and poha needs to be ground for long till smooth and fluffy but the rice-sago mixture can be a little coarse
  • Warm conditions are very important for the batter to ferment properly. If you live in a cold place, you could place the vessel containing the batter in a pre-heated oven (switch off the oven though). Leave the oven light on since it will give enough heat to keep the temperature steady throughout the fermentation period
  • I add 1 tsp refined sugar dissolved completely in a little water to the idli batter after fermentation just to balance it out a bit. This is an optional step
  • If you wait for a while for the idlis to cool down, they come out much more cleanly from the idli tray
  • I usually serve idlis with pearl onion sambar, coconut chutney and spiced chutney pudi but the sky is the limit when it comes to accompaniments!
  • Leftover batter of this recipe can be used to make dosa or onion uthappam. 
  • If you are making idlis again or dosa/uthappam from refrigerated batter, let the batter first come to room temperature. For the dosa, you would need to thin out the batter with water to be able to spread it out thinly



  1. This was amazing! Have finally found my go to recipe for idli. Thanks for sharing! ☺️

  2. So happy to hear that! Thanks for trying the recipe :)

  3. Let me first thank you for sharing one of my favorite morning breakfast called
    "Mallige Idli', it was on my tour to Mysore that one of my friend she suggested me to try these idli's, trust me, after literally relishing this dish, I folded my hands with moist eyes and thanked her, cause I'm a foody freak, and this dish literally touch my 💕heart, they were soft, supple and soooooo spongy.. Oh my my.. They just melted in my mouth 😘💋 I opted only for 🥥coconut chutney, I always avoided sambhar, cause they were pungent in taste, I used to suffer from acidity 😄😄😄, today seeing your blog it gave me nostalgic memories of yesteryears. Thanks once again 🙏😊

    1. What a lovely comment! Made me feel happy reading it :) Thank you for your appreciation and for sharing your wonderful memory!


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