Microwave Idli Maker Experiment

Weekday mornings are hectic for us, especially now with getting two kids up, fed and ready to leave on time. Breakfast is often just a quick egg-and-toast kind of meal, maybe with some fruit thrown in if I don’t have to chop it. So on the weekends I try to put a little more into breakfast and make something fun like pancakes, french toast, and just last saturday, idlis.
Made from rice and dahl, idlis are probably the blandest Indian food you will find. They are a breakfast staple here in South India, though, and are eaten by most everyone. They are served with spicy sambars and chutneys so the blandness is balanced out with plenty of spice and flavor.
I was recently given a microwave idli maker and decided it was time to try it out. My kids like idlis but since they require a special pot that I wasn’t going to buy (since we rarely eat them), we only bought them (already cooked) on occasion. Most people make their idli batter at home since, according to Glad, it is a simple matter of soaking rice overnight and blending it in the morning. Well, when he decides to cook fulltime, he can do that. Since I am no expert, I chose to use this ready-to-cook batter that my local grocery store has all the time.
Here is what the maker looks like, minus the lid (which you can see in some of the pics below). It has two trays for 4 idlis, so I can make 8 at a time. It took about 6 minutes to cook in my microwave. I had no idea how to use the maker, so my great friend Google found a post on another blog by someone who used it regularly and I got the info I needed.

Idlis are steamed so they are quite a healthy food, so long as you don’t eat too many since they are mostly starch. The bottom of the dish holds a small amount of water, then the stand is placed in it and the molds are filled with the batter. The molds have tiny holes in them to let the steam cook them through from the bottom up. The lid goes on when it is in the microwave to contain the steam.

And here is how they looked on exiting the microwave.
Of course, I had to make a chutney to go with them, since alone they don’t have much taste. I also forgot to add salt to the batter which added to the blandness. I have never made any type of chutney before this but I didn’t think it would be too hard. I knew the basic ingredients were corriander, coconut, green chili, salt and a little water.
I threw it all into the blender and out came …

…this. Of course I handed it to Glad for tasting and asked him to tell me what was missing since it just didn’t have the same flavor as the one his mom made.

His first thing was that I put too much salt. I thought I had put too little. Other than that, he said it was ok, though it did have a bitter taste to it that I couldn’t figure out. After breakfast though, he told me it would be better with an onion, some garlic and more chili. Why oh why did he wait until after we had eaten to tell me that???? I did go ahead and add those to the leftovers and it tasted much better.

My messy kitchen.
Grass found with the corriander. It has to be cleaned so well to use it fresh.

Afterwards we figured it must have been the packaged coconut that gave it the bitter taste. It would have been best with fresh coconut, but here, fresh means inside the shell and who has time to dig that out when you want a quick chutney?

And here is the end result. We did enjoy it, but now I know better for next time. Actually, I think I will make dosas with the leftover batter. They taste better.

Daddy and the girls enjoy their breakfast. They love spicy food so long as it comes from daddy’s plate. 🙂
So now a question for you regular chutney makers: do you have a recipe you can share with us here? I’d say e-mail it to me but I want my readers to be able to try it if they want to, so if you don’t mind, leave your tips for making the best chutney in the comments. I look forward to improving my recipe next time.
Leave a comment


  1. Yaay! So glad you guys are using the idli maker. 🙂 Sounds like quite the adventure! I found that chutney tastes better when you add some channa dhal to the mixture (it has to be the fried type and it looks like this: http://bit.ly/rDWrEX). Also, here is an easy recipe for coconut chutney: http://bit.ly/d4VhKr

  2. It was fun figuring it out, but the chutney I've got to improve. Gonna look that up now.

  3. It's always trial and error at first! I'm sorry I don't have a good chutney recipe for you. I buy mine ready-made.We never tried idli while in India, but I did get to try a dosa and that was pretty good!

  4. I love dosas. It was actually the first food I had when I ate out the first time here and I have loved them ever since. My favorite is cheese masala dosa. I've only found those in a few places but I love them because I love cheese. I'd eat dosa over idli any day.

  5. Sonia

     /  September 27, 2013

    What a sweet picture of Dad feeding his girls. I’m sure the idlis were fantastic!


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