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 of 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 the 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 the 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 an 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 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.

Please leave your comments and share your thoughts below.



  1. Very "soft-looking" idlis! I have never known that one can make idlis minus the rice... 👍👍
    They look delicious...

    1. Dear Ruhi
      Thank you for your comment. Yes,it was a new idea to me as well until I tried. Hope you give a try soon.

  2. Yummilicious Thanku for yer another awesome recipe, cannot wait to try 😋

  3. Thank you Shahin, let me know how it goes.

  4. Idli's without rice!? Must try. Thanks for the recipe Hasin.

    1. Dear avissado

      You are welcome and yes it's a lentil breakfast completely.

  5. Oh my god.....
    Lovely idlis,😋😋...
    With out rice...
    Awsome is not the word.....
    Thanks for this beautiful recipe...
    Cheers ...

    1. I'm so happy to see your comment Samrin, thank you!