Idli - Lentil Cakes

IDLI- Steamed Lentil Cakes
The look of these serene, fluffy white cakes reminds me of my Indian home, the traditional breakfast that is still made with joy to indulge in and savoured with sambhar.

Idli is one of the most popular breakfasts in South Indian homes. When the recommendation comes from the “World Health Organisation-WHO” quoting its health benefits, I can only take pride in recognising the benefits of this breakfast dish that I continue to rejoice even now with my family.

Traditionally, Idli is made using a fermented batter of black lentils and rice. With its low Glycemic index, it makes it preferable amongst Diabetics too.

But at LC, we tried making this only with de-husked black gram that is soaked, blended and fermented to the right degree and steamed with less/no oil, making it completely vegan and enhancing the nutrient value of this dish. The result was just yum!. Here is our recipe.


Steamed Lentil Cake
Preparation Time: 6 hrs (includes soaking, blending and steaming)
Fermentation Time: 12- 18 hrs
Total Time:  24 hrs
Yields: 12-16 Serves: 3-4

2 cups dry black lentils, de-skinned or de-husked
2 cups of water
1 tsp salt, we use Himalayan salt
1 tsp cooking oil

Other equipment needed- Blender, Idli plate/ Egg poacher/ Bamboo Steamer

Step 1: Rinse the dry lentils and soak them in enough water for 4-6 hrs and then drain the water from the lentils. In a blender, combine the soaked lentils with 2 cups of water and blend to a smooth, pouring consistency batter but not runny.

Step 2: In a large bowl, transfer the batter, add salt and keep it covered loosely in a warm place for fermentation to happen for at least 8-12 hrs until the volume of the batter doubles.

Step 3: Grease the Idli moulds with oil, pour the batter into the moulds and steam cook on medium temperature in the steamer for about 10 mins until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If you don’t have an Idli mould- you can use any small bowl, plate or egg poacher that can be used in the steamer.

Step 4: Allow the steamed cakes to rest outside the steamer for about 2-3 mins before removing them from the moulds. Idli must not be wet on the top surface to assert doneness.

Step 5: Use a silicone spatula dipped in cold water to remove them from the mould and serve.


Idli can be served with any lentil curry called Sambar, any chutneys, any pickles etc.


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  1. Mouthwatering idlis !! The look perfect .

  2. These lentil cakes look so yummy, definitely perfect for breakfast! I love all of the health benefits, too. All around they sound great.

    1. They are packed with gut health bacteria. Im sure they make a perfect breakfast.

  3. They look incredible but how to you de-skin or de-hust them?

    1. You get ready-made black gram that is washed/deskinned one in any Asian shop known as dhuli urad dal. Please look for this.

  4. OMG! Idlis looks absolutely fabulous, perfect white color and looks so soft , I'm so surprised to see idli made with only lentil , and no rice used. Now I'm really excited to try it immediately , and see if there is any taste difference. This is really an amazing recipe for any one , thanks so much for sharing such an easy way to make the daily food.


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