7 Unique Dishes To Make With Leftover Idlis
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Idli is a staple in South Indian cuisine, and it is most common as a breakfast item. These are basically steamed rice cakes made from fermented rice and urad dal or black gram. What makes this dish very popular and a loved breakfast item throughout India is its simplicity, adaptability and light on-stomach nature.

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In households where idlis are a regular feature on the menu, it is not uncommon to have a surplus of these rice cakes. Rather than letting these extras go to waste, inventive home cooks have devised numerous ways to transform leftover idlis into unique and flavorful dishes. This practice not only exemplifies the frugality and resourcefulness inherent in traditional cooking but also opens up a realm of culinary creativity. 

Idli Upma

Crumbled idlis are sautéed with mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal, curry leaves, and green chillies, enhancing the dish with a rich, aromatic flavour. Adding finely chopped onions, tomatoes, and a dash of turmeric infuses vibrant colours and a subtle tang. Garnished with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice, Idli Upma offers a delightful, savoury taste, making it a perfect way to repurpose leftover idlis into a new culinary delight.

Idli Chaat

To make this, one also needs to crumble or cube the idlis and lightly fry them for a crispy texture. Toss with finely chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillies, and fresh coriander. Add tangy tamarind chutney, spicy green chutney, and a sprinkle of chaat masala for a burst of flavours. Garnish with sev and a squeeze of lemon juice. This dish combines the softness of idlis with the crunchiness and tanginess of chaat, creating a flavorful and exciting fusion.

Idli Soup

To prepare, crumble the idlis and simmer them in a broth made from tomatoes, onions, and ginger-garlic paste. Season with turmeric, cumin, and black pepper. Add vegetables like carrots, peas, and beans for added flavour and nutrition. Garnish with fresh coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice. The result is a flavorful, spicy, and aromatic soup, offering a delightful twist on the traditional idli and making it perfect for a light lunch or dinner.

Idli Fry

Idli Fry transforms your leftover idlis into a crispy, flavorful snack. Ingredients include chopped idlis, oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves, finely chopped onions, green chillies, turmeric, salt, and a pinch of asafoetida. Heat the oil, add mustard seeds and curry leaves, then sauté onions and green chillies until golden. Toss in the idli pieces, sprinkle with turmeric and salt, and stir-fry until crispy. The result is a delightful blend of soft interiors with a crunchy, spicy exterior, perfect for a quick snack or appetiser.

Idli Sandwich

The Idli Sandwich is a creative way to use leftover idlis, transforming them into a flavorful snack or light meal. After slicing the idlis horizontally, spread a tangy chutney or spicy ketchup on each slice. Layer with thinly sliced vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions, adding a dash of chaat masala for extra zing. For added protein, include paneer or a slice of cheese. This innovative dish combines the soft texture of idlis with the crunch of fresh veggies, creating a delightful fusion of flavours and textures.

Idli Tikka

Idli Tikka is a delightful dish made from leftover idlis, transforming them into a vibrant snack. The ingredients include leftover idlis, yoghurt, spices like turmeric, red chilli powder, garam masala, ginger-garlic paste, and vegetables like bell peppers and onions. The idlis are marinated in the spiced yoghurt mixture, then skewered with veggies and grilled or pan-fried. The result is a fusion of soft idlis with smoky, tangy, and spicy flavours, creating a delicious and innovative use of leftovers that's perfect for a quick snack or appetiser.

Idli Salad

Cube the idlis and toss them with finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and bell peppers. Add a handful of cilantro and mint for freshness. Drizzle with a light yoghurt dressing for a creamy texture. This salad blends the soft, spongy texture of idlis with the crispness of vegetables, creating a vibrant, flavorful dish perfect for a quick, healthy meal.