Sweet Pumpkin Idlis: Worthy Delicacy
Image Credit: Udupi recipe

Let's accept it, pumpkins do not enjoy a favourite and cherished place neither in our hearts nor our daily eating preferences. One bears it mostly for the sake of the ample health benefits it brings along. But perhaps, the problem lies in our limited knowledge and perception about the taste and items that can be made with this squash fruit, pumpkin. Turn around and you will find something as sweetly delicious as Sweet Pumpkin Idlis from Karnataka, which transforms this huge fruit into an everyday healthy sweetmeat. In the name of ingredients, it just utilises grated pumpkins, rava, jaggery, coconut pieces and cardamom powder steam cooked to get a sweeter version of idlis in a likeable way. 

Sweet Pumpkin Idlis

The Sweet Pumpkin Idlis are one of the popular and traditional breakfast food items of Karnataka. These are known as Cheenikayi Kadubu in Kannada, where Cheenikayi means sweet pumpkins and kadubu means rice cakes or idlis. The sweet pumpkins are also called Shighumbala. There is also a Mangalorean style of making them, where pumpkin is cooked, smashed, mixed with the grainy rice mixture and lastly steamed. Interestingly, there exists a spicy version of Sweet Pumpkin Idlis too, by the name Sihi Kumbalakai idli meaning Spicy Pumpkin Idlis.

Shifting Focus To Pumpkins

Pumpkins are native to North America and are a kind of winter squash that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Now that you know the name of the plant family, let's deal a little more with the botanical aspect of a squash fruit. So all types of squash fruits have seeds in them and they germinate from the flowering part of plants. There’s so much more to this Halloween-personified fruit, pumpkin. These are highly nutritious and rich in vitamin A which helps to strengthen the immune system and fight infections. Besides, it's also rich in antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene which can neutralise free radicals, and prevent the cells from being damaged. 

Preparation: 35 minutes

Cooking: 16 minutes

Servings: 7-8 Pumpkin idlis


  • 1 ½ cups grated pumpkin 
  • ½ cup rice rava (akki rava) 
  • ½ cup jaggery 
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp fresh coconut pieces 
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder 
  • A pinch of salt


  • Grate a small piece of pumpkin finely and keep it aside.
  • In a pan, dry roast the rava on a medium flame for a few seconds, until it becomes warm.
  • In another pan, take jaggery and a little water and cook it for a few minutes until it dissolves.
  • Filter it through a strainer to remove impurities and transfer it back to the pan, and let it boil for 3 minutes.
  • In another pan, transfer the jaggery syrup, roasted rava and grated pumpkin. Add the coconut pieces, a pinch of salt and cardamom powder to it and mix everything evenly.
  • Transfer small portions of this mixture to the banana leaves and fold and keep aside.
  • Alternatively, you can use idli moulds for it too. Transfer a small portion of this mixture to fit into each of the idli moulds, and press it a little on top.
  • Steam and cook them for 10 minutes. 
  • Take out the moulds and leaves, and serve with ghee.

The rava gives the nutty taste and the subtle grainy texture to these pumpkin steamed cakes, coconut pieces provide tropical flavour and biting taste. The jaggery syrup used to both sweeten and bind the whole mixture into a cohesive batter makes pumpkin idlis even healthier.