'Kanchipuram/Kancheepuram' is a Holy town in Tamilnadu. It is famous for three things - the silk sarees, goddess Kamakshi and Adi Sankarachariya's Kanchi Mutt. Well, it is also famous for one more thing - The Kanchipuram Idli. This type of Idli was first made in the Kanchi Varadaraja Perumal Temple and has only grown in popularity ever since.
Like many South Indians, I have also grown up relishing this idli from childhood. We enjoy pongal at home and this idli has all the ingredients that go into a pongal. Though the grinding and fermenting process of making this idli is similar to the regular idli, what gives the distinct variation is the pepper, cumin and dry ginger powder that is added to the batter. Also, the proportion of the urad dal to rice is different compared to the regular idli batter.
This idli is distributed as prasadam/prashad/offering in the temple and is prepared only with raw rice. But if you are making it at home for tiffin, you can always substitute boiled rice instead of raw rice or a equal measure of both. Also, the urad dal proportion can be adjusted depending upon the variety of urad dal you use.
A well fermented batter is the key to great tasting idlis. Also, using the mandarai illai/ poor man's orchid leaves ( dry) as the covering layer and steaming the idlis in them gives the idlis their authentic taste. I have used a stainless steel ( cylindrical) tumber , lined it with mandarai leaves to steam the idlis. Poured batter till 1/4 th height of the tumbler and steamed them. You can use a bamboo steamer to steam these idlis. They are even more flavourful.
Recipe adapted from here.
Kanchipuram Idli | Kancheepuram Koil Idli :
Preparation time: 10-12 hours ( including fermenting time)
Cooking time : 20 minutes
Serves : 4-6
1 cup = 250 ml cup
Special Vessel : Stone grinder for grinding the batter . If using a mixie/mixer then you have to beat the urad dal batter using your hands till they are light and fluffy.
3 cups raw rice ( ponni or sona masuri)
1 cup urad dal/ husked and split black gram)
1 teaspoon methi/fenugreek seeds
rock salt ( to taste)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
For the spice :
2 teaspoons peppercorn/milagu ( coarsely ground)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds/jeera( coarsely ground)
2 teaspoons dry ginger powder/sukku podi /saunth
1 sprig curry leaves
large pinch asafoetida
2 teaspoons ghee/clarified butter ( skip if vegan)
1. Wash rice three to four times and soak it in water for 3 hours.
2. Mix urad dal and methi seeds together , wash them three to four times and soak them inadequate water for 3 hours.
Chef tip: Always use a large vessel to soak ingredients as they need adequate space to swell up.
3. After the soaking time, first grind urad dal till it is soft, white and fluffy. This will take at least 45 minutes grinding in a stone grinder.
4. Once the urad dal is ground, transfer it to a large container .
5. In the same grinder, add the soaked rice and grind it to a coarse batter ( The consistency of batter is the same as the regular idli batter)
Chef tip : To save time, now a days, I grind the rice in a mixie when the urad batter is still grinding in the stone grinder. You can try it too.
6. Transfer the ground rice batter to the same vessel and add rock salt and sesame oil .
7. Mix well using your hands so that the salt and oil mix well.
8. Leave it to ferment for at least 8 hours.
9. Once the batter is well fermented, add the peppercorns, jeera, dry ginger powder, ghee and curry leaves.
10. Mix well.
To make idli :
1. You can either grease the idli plates with oil, pour the batter in the plates and steam them as regular idlis.
1. Line a tumbler or a plate ( with 1 " depth with mandarai leaves), pour the batter and steam them till a fork inserted in the middle of the idli, comes out clean.
You can serve the idlis with your choice of chutneys and sambar . I served it with my version of Kadappa - another delicious side dish for idli and dosai.
Happy Cooking !