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  • Shivam Parikh

7 Types of Idlis that make South Indian Food so Popular

Recently on my visit to an Indian restaurant in Berlin, I took 15 mins to decide my order. I have to say I did not expect to want to savour all the dishes in the menu. Like many others, I too thought idli and dosa are one of a kind but to find so many varieties of both items was an eye opener. Suddenly, my journey of discovering Indian food in Berlin turned into an interesting adventure.



Here are the different types of idlis I have come across and I recommend you try them all!


Idli or Idly is a steamed dish usually eaten as breakfast in South India. It is generally made with rice and urad dal (black lentil) in the batter but in some cases semolina (suji or rava) as well. As it does not contain oil, it is fat free and cholesterol free and quite nutritious and healthy to begin your day with, especially for those on a weight loss diet. The 7 scrumptuous varieties of idlis are:



1. Idli – the simple and basic one.

Made with the batter of soaked, ground rice and black lentils fermented with fenugreek seeds, this idli is plain white in colour and is a classic. You can easily find it on the menu of any indian restaurant in Berlin or any other city you are visiting. The dish is served with a spiced vegetable curry called Sambhar and a side of coconut chutney. What strikes best is the simplicity of the recipe and yet so fulfilling!



2. Vegetable idli

The base remains the same as plain idli but what’s different is the added assortment of vegetables like carrots, peas, curry leaves, corn, green beans etc. They can be mildly spicy and like all other idlis, these too are served with sambhar and coconut chutney.



3. Rawa/Rava Idli

Prepared with the same steaming technique, these idlys or cakes are made with semolina. Their texture is soft and delicious. Batter does not need lengthy fermenting and it can be prepared quite instantly with yogurt.



4. Kaima Idly

Originally made to utilize the leftover steamed idlis, Kaima idly these days is a restaurant favourite and specially prepared for the diners. The plain idlis are fried in oil or butter then laced with spices and vegetables to prepare a spicy, mouthwatering meal. I tried this at ‘Dosa and more’, an Indian food restaurant in Berlin.



5. Schezwan Idli

When confused on what to order, Indo Chinese or South Indian, schezwan idly seems like the perfect choice. Bite sized pieces of steamed rice and lentil idlis are tossed in onions, capsicums and Chinese chilli sauces to raise the flavour levels to 99! On a rather venturesome day, I’d love to order this.



6. Oats Idli

For all the healthy food lovers, this comes as a pleasant surprise. It also makes me appreciate the versatile trait of oats. The oats idlis eaten with sambhar and chutney are a complete or balanced meal and tasty as a plus.



7. Rice & Moong Dal Idli

Moog dal or split green gram is easier to digest than black lentils. The combination of rice and moong dal is quite nutritious and light on the stomach as well. These idlis are prepared with some shredded carrots and spring onions in the mix, giving them a wonderful texture.



As I enjoy exploring the rich taste of Indian food at a restaurant near me, I hope you give some of these idlis a try. The powerful, punchy flavours and deliciousness in this healthy food are like art on a plate.


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