Kanchipuram Idli has been on my to-do list for a long time. I heard about this years ago from a friend but was always skeptical. When I think Idli, I think of the pure white snowy pillows that just dissolve in your mouth. Adding spices or turmeric seemed like sacrilege. Like throwing a stone in the pristine waters of a lake, the Idli batter in my kitchen had never been adulterated with anything other than salt. But I finally made a batch of these and I am a big fan of the Kanchipuram Idli now.
If you have Idli batter on hand, this Idli is quite easy to make. For the purpose of this post, I will start with Idli batter. Even if you don’t make your own, it is readily available in most grocery stores and supermarkets in India. And indeed, even in Indian grocery stores in the US if you happen to live in a big metro area like Central Jersey or DC. I am working on a post for making Idli batter from scratch, but that will come later.
Kanchipuram Idli is part of my series on basic South Indian dishes we all love. I blogged about making your own sambar powder earlier and your own sambar. My coconut chutney and Madras Tomato Chutney are both great accompaniments to this Kanchipuram Idli.
As usual, while making some recipe for the first time, I searched around the web. The recipes ranged from simple to complex. Some people added a lot of things like ginger and coriander powder, urad dal, curry leaves and what not. But I prefer to keep things simple.
The simplest Kanchipuram Idli had black peppercorns, cumin and ghee. I already love the combination of cumin and pepper – classic molagu rassam – so I went with that. This might sound like a simple combination but trust me, the rich earthiness of the ghee, the smoky cumin and the heat from the black peppercorns transform this Idli into something sublime. A dash of turmeric gives it a pleasing butter cream yellow color and differentiates them from your everyday white Idli.
The Kanchipuram Idli is really easy when you start with the Idli batter. Check out the recipe below.
Kanchipuram Idli is tasty and complex, spiced with cumin and pepper and ghee. A nice change from your everyday white Idli.
- 2 cups Idli batter
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp ghee
- Salt to taste
- Lightly roast the cumin seeds and black peppercorns until aromatic.
- Pound them in a mortar and pestle. If using a spice grinder, just pulse until you get a coarse powder.
- Warm the ghee so that it is in liquid form.
- Add the ghee, cumin-pepper mixture and turmeric to idli batter.
- Add salt to taste.
- Let it rest for an hour or two. You can also do this on the previous day and refrigerate the mixture overnight.
- Grease Idli moulds or katoris and have the steamer ready, already steaming.
- Add a little batter in each mould, filling about 90% of the space leaving room for the Idli to rise a bit.
- Steam for 12-15 minutes until done.
- Serve hot with sambar and chutney.
These Idlis are awesome as a breakfast or brunch food or anytime, really. Take these simple extra steps the next time you are making Idlis. They are worth the effort!