If there is a crown of honour for the breakfast dishes in the world, it would definitely rest on the humble idli. Cooked to perfection in steam, without adding even a bit of oil, idli, alongside our very own puttu, is touted as one of the healthiest breakfast dishes. A thick and rich coconut chutney from which wafts the tempting fragrance of the mustard tempering and a spicy sambar loaded with different kinds of vegetables make the perfect combination for the delicious idli.
Karnataka is often hailed as the birth place of the soft and flaky idli. A few ancient Tamil texts too mentions about idli. There are many who believe that our idli is related to a snack called Keddli which is extremely popular in Indonesia.
Though idli is often described as a South Indian dish, it is incredibly popular all over the country. The thatte idli cooked in places like Tumakuru and Bidadi in Karnataka is a bit different from the idli that is seen here. Thatte idli, which is flatter in shape, is also called a plate idli. It is usually had with chutney powder and the regular coconut chutney.
Meanwhile, in Kerala, the Ramassery idli of Palakkad is known for its super soft and flaky texture. It is said that the recipe of this acclaimed idli reached Ramassery through migrant families from Kanjeepuram, Tamil Nadu, who came here looking for jobs. Like the thatte idly, the Ramassery idli too is flatter and almost looks like a small dosa.
The Konkan regions of Karnataka and Goa have the sanna idli. This extremely soft idli is usually had with spicy mutton curry. The sanna idli becomes hitli idli when it is made sweet.
Though not as soft as its other counterparts, the Udupi idli too is quite famous. This idli is prepared using batter made by coarsely grinding the rice grains. The Kancheepuram idli is amazingly flavoursome with black pepper, cumin, and ginger as its main ingredients.
The malligai idli or the jasmine idli floors the foodies with its amazing fragrance that is very appetizing. Mysuru is the city which is famous for serving piping hot malligai idli which fills the air with its delicious aroma. Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, this idli is called the khushboo idli. Tiny idlis called the podi idlis, had with powdered chilli, is a popular street food in Tamil Nadu.
The mudde idli, which looks like our puttu, is prepared by steaming the batter in cylinder shaped moulds made using jackfruit leaves. This is a very popular breakfast dish in Mangaluru.
Sambar idli, soaked in spicy sambar, idli upma made by roasting chopped idli pieces along with onions and green chillies are some of the popular idli varieties in Tamil Nadu.
A steamed rice cake, called enduri pitha, is cooked in Odisha during special occasions and festivals. The rava idli, made by mixing semolina and curd, is a popular snack in Bengaluru. It has a distinct taste and texture, which is quite different from the regular idlis.
A special idli prepared by mixing cucumber and jagery in the batter, the teeka wala idli made by grinding coconut and green chilies and khotto idlis that are steamed in jackfruit leaves are some of the unique varieties of idlis that are cooked in different parts of India. The idli that is steamed in jackfruit leaves could be stored up to a few days. This method of cooking idlis was popular in many Kerala households during the olden days.