Kovil Idli or Kancheepuram Idli


I decided a few days ago to start doing some research into the history of our food and what our ancestors ate. It has always fascinated me to know what normal people ate in the days of King Krishnadevaraya. The curiosity was triggered by a song by Purandara Dasaru – “Rama naama paayasake”, in which there are a couple of interesting dishes mentioned like the       “Shavige”( noodles)” and how it is made. Of course, the meaning of the song is more philosophical, but to compare something as ordinary as making of noodles to something connected with philosophy is nothing but the sheer genius of the poet.

So, anyway that was my inspiration and I got so much information online from http://www.kamat.com/ and ordered some books of KT Acharya( Food Historian). KT Acharya’s ” A historical Dictionary of Indian food” is informative, but not interesting as it has absolutely no pictures.


I thought I would write more about the history of “Idli”, which I found out actually comes from Karnataka. Then, it was not necessary for me to write anything, because a journalist from Deccan Herald had already done all the writing for me in this article and copied word to word from KT Acharya’s book!


I always thought that Kacheepuram Idlis were made with Idli batter that had gone a bit sour. I was wrong, as I found out from this article from the Hindu-


I followed the recipe from the Sri Varadarajaperumal Temple( from the article), with cup measurements and it turned out really good.


Recipe as given-


(To make 10 idlis)


  • Raw rice 2kg or 2 cups
  • Urad dhal 1kg or 1 cup
  • Methi 25gm or 1/2 Tsp
  • Pepper 100gm about 15
  • Jeera 100gm about 1 Tsp
  • Dry ginger 100gm- 1/2 Tsp
  • Asafoetida 1/4 Tsp
  • Curry leaves- a sprig
  • Ghee 800gm- 1 Tbsp
  • Salt

Method: Soak the rice, urad dhal and methi for an hour. Grind to a rough consistency. Add salt and leave overnight. In the morning, add pepper, jeera, dry ginger, asafoetida (all without tempering), sautéd curry leaves and ghee. Mix well and cook.

It takes about an hour to cook.

At home, in a cooker it may take only 15 minutes. Place pieces of mandharai leaves on the idli tray and then pour the batter.


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