The Ultimate to Making the Perfect Kanchipuram Idli

Kanchipuram Idli recipe, a unique steamed rice cake with a pronounced taste of dried ginger, cumin and peppercorns

I really don’t know why it took me so long to post the Kanchipuram Idli recipe. One of my favorite idli varieties that I have to eat every time I visit Kanchi. Whenever we visit Lord Balaji’s Darshan in Tirupati, we also visit Kanchi. Apart from silk saris, Kancheepuram is famous for its temples, Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham and of course the food. One of the most traditional Tamil tiffins or specialty dishes is Kancheepuram Idli.

This steamed delicacy is offered as a prasadam at the Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple. The food cooked in the temple kitchens and offered to the Almighty as prasadam has a taste that cannot be recreated at home. Temple food is sacred with pure, clean flavors. Sattvic food at its finest! One such temple food or Koil Neivedhyam is the Kanchipuram Idli, which also bears the names Kovil Idli (Temple Idli), Kudalai Idli and Tumbler Idli. A healthy, heartwarming and filling breakfast dish. As a growing teenager, I did not like the taste, but in my mature years my palate has matured. There are some flavors that you will enjoy as you get older. I enjoy the taste and crumbly texture of the Kanjeevaram Idli served in the temple.

Over the years I have procured some recipes of Idli varieties. I collected recipes from friends, hotel cooks, Brahmin cooks in temples, magazines and on the Internet. The taste of the Kovil Idli is not found in any of the hotels of Kanchipuram. Each hotel has its own recipe of Kanchipuram Idli. I have tried a few recipes and keep coming back to a recipe shared by the Paati (grandmother) of a friend from Iyengar Vaishnavite. In fact, she shared with me some recipes of Perumal kovil prasadam. The food cooked in your kitchen is a dream, so tempting and brings joy to the soul. I will also blog them.

A unique Idli preparation in terms of Idli dough preparation, the shape of the idli, the way it is steamed and the texture of the idli.

The side dish for kanchipuram idli can be kara chutney (a spicy tomato and onion chutney), hotel-style coconut chutney, idli podi and tiffin sambar. And I suggest you eat Kanchipuram Idli warm to enjoy its true taste.

How to achieve the authentic, unique taste of Kanchipuram Idli

Basically, raw rice, parboiled rice and whole, skinned urad dal (black gram) are used in equal parts. The rice (paddy rice and parboiled rice) and urad dal are soaked separately in water for 5 to 6 hours. The rice must be ground to a coarse texture (similar to semolina / sand), while the urad dal is ground to a smooth paste. Both doughs are mixed together, and the consistency of the dough should be neither thin nor thick.

The dough must be sour, so the idli dough must be fermented for 8 hours (in the summer).

The authentic Kanjeevaram Idli recipe does not require tempering with mustard seeds and bengalgram. We add coarsely crushed cumin seeds, peppercorns and dried ginger powder (sukku podi / Sonti podi) together with ghee, ging oil, asafoetida, curry leaves and salt to the fermented idli dough. But you can also add a tempering of mustard seeds and chana dal. I like to add broken pieces of cashews roasted in ghee.

Traditionally, Kanjivaram idlis are steamed in dried ‘mantharai’ (kachanar/pulichinta/camel foot tree) leaf shells, which give the idli a unique flavor. You can also use banana leaves.

You can use a greased mug or a round vessel with a flat base (cake pan will do). Or you can steam them in the ordinary ordinary Idli plates.

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