Recipes / Travel

Kanchipuram Idli


Food travels have taken me across the world, and have given me the chance to research and document long-lost and forgotten recipes. One such trip I made was to Kanchipuram, one of the regional capital cities of the Chola dynasty.

Kanchipuram is home to magnificent temples, the Kanchi silk saree and the delectable Kanchipuram Idli. As you might have guessed, the last item on this list is what I was after. I wanted to learn how to make this from the temple priests themselves. The Kanchipuram Idli is one of the primal offerings made to the God of the temple. It is no surprise then, that the greatest care and dedication goes into making this, day after day. Made using rice, dhal , dry spices, these idlies are made using handmade bamboo baskets and can measure upto a foot-long and 6 inches wide.

Here’s how you make it.
  • Kuzhal or bamboo basket – 1
  • Rice – 300 gms
  • Black urad dhal – 160 gms
  • Dry ginger – 1
  • Cumin seeds – 20 gms
  • Asafoetida- 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds – 10 gms
  • Whole black pepper – 20 gms
  • Salt – to taste
  • Ghee – 40 gms
  • Manthaarai leaves – 2
  • Curd – 4 tbsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig


  • Soak rice, dhal and fenugreek in water for 2-3 hours
  • Grind to a moderately coarse batter. When you feel the batter, it should be of idly rava texture and of thick pouring consistency .
  • Pound cumin, dry ginger, whole pepper and pour over the ground batter.
  • Add the asafoetida, salt, ghee, curry leaves and 4 tbsp of sour curd to the batter and allow to ferment for 4-5 hours. Do not refrigerate.
  • The batter should be a little sour after fermentation.
  • Take the bamboo basket and line it with manthaarai leaves on all sides. Fold a lotus leaf at the bottom of the bamboo basket to ensure the batter you pour inside doesn’t drip
  • Pour batter inside the bamboo basket
  • The bamboo basket with the batter is now ready to steam.
  • The photo illustrates the process of assembling the basket to steam


If you would like to get a  a DIY (do-it-yourself) Kanchipuram Idli kit that has all that is mentioned below:
  • All pre portioned dry ingredients (rice, dhal, dry spices)
  • The handmade bamboo basket to steam the idli
  • An instruction manual to make the idli
  • Eco friendly packaging (re usable cartons, jute, hay, twine, newspapers used to pack)
  • Photos of the region I’ve shot.
 Here is the video where I shot the making of Kanchipuram Idli for my food and travel show:



About Author

The musings of two Chennaiites seeking to discover the world through food and travel. As they open themselves up to adventure, the accompanying puliyogare, travels well and ensures that the idea of home is never lost


  • Nithya Balaji
    November 12, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Very interesting. Thank you for sharing. I make Kanchipuram idli once every week in regular idli plates. Kanchipuram was the historical capital of the Pallava Dynasty. Chola capital was Thanjavur. Anyway, bet all of them would have loved your recipe!

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