From Steamer To Coconut Shells: 6 Ways You Can Make Fluffy Idli

Idli, soft and spongy rice cakes, served with hot and spiced sambar, refreshing coconut chutney, and tangy tomato chutney is a wholesome meal. Whether you are from South or North India, you cannot deny the comfort that the fluffy rice cakes bring to your taste buds. Moreover, idlis bring innovation into the kitchen because not only can you make different types of rice cakes, but you can also repurpose them into a different snack, for example, fried idli.

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The fluffy South Indian staple has an easy-to-follow recipe but mastering it can be difficult. It all depends on the fermentation of batter, the proportion of ingredients, and the technique used to make idli. Below are a few different ways in which you can make the most popular South Indian delicacy. Don’t forget to try the third one at home.

Bamboo Steamer

Have you ever seen people make idli in a bamboo steamer? It is not only used to steam momos or dim sums, you can also use it in a traditional way to make the softest idlis. Prepare the batter as usual and keep its consistency thick. Line the steamer with banana leaves to prevent the batter from falling off and infusing a sweet aroma to the rice cakes. Grease the banana leaf and pour batter on it in small amounts. After steaming for 20 minutes, your idlis will be ready.


The easiest way to make idli is using a modern-day steamer that works both on a gas stove and microwave. There is little hassle of cleaning, and these containers are reusable. Start by adding water to the steamer and greasing the moulds. The moulds in a steamer come with small holes to allow the steam to cook the batter and add fluffiness to the idlis.

Jackfruit Leaves

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If you want to try a traditional way of making idli, you can use jackfruit leaves. Buy them from the farmer's market and combine 3-4 to make an eco-friendly mould. You can secure the moulds using toothpicks to prevent the batter from leeching. After shaping the moulds, cut the top part of the leaves to create enough space for pouring the batter without making a mess. Arrange the batter-filled moulds in a regular steamer and allow the idlis to cook for 15-20 minutes.

Bamboo Moulds

Another traditional way of making idli is by pouring them into bamboo moulds. The containers are easily available in the market, however, you will need many wooden sticks to stack these moulds over one another. Each bamboo bowl is lined with a soft mesh cloth and filled with batter. These containers are arranged in a large steamer over one another and cooked. These creations are called Chiblu Idli.

Coconut Shells

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If you have broken a coconut shell, you know how hard it is and how perfectly round. If you manage to break it in a perfect hemisphere, you can use it as a mould to cook idli. Clean the coconut moulds thoroughly to remove fibre or shreds that can get cooked with the batter. Pour the idli into coconut shells and arrange them in a steamer. Cook idlis for 15-120 minutes before serving them with sambar and chutney.

Kedige Leaf Moulds

The traditional Mangalorean way of cooking idli is using a variety of leaves or kedige. Unlike jackfruit, these leaves are quite long. Therefore, they are used to make elongated moulds. One end of the mould is sealed, and the other is kept open. These moulds are filled with batter and added to a steamer. After cooking for 25-30 minutes, the idlis are served along with the moulds.