Idly and peppery potato kurma

Steaming idlis and ‘my’ kari kuzhambhu

I was preserving one of my mom’s best dish  for the new year . Oh ,what a pity, my modem went wrong on the new year day , just 10 days after its warranty period.  Can you imagine? I  spent 9 full days without browsing the blogs .  mmm mm ….. That was good in a way. I could look at my daily routines in a different way.

Coming to the treasured recipe , this kurma (but we call it kuzhambhu) is perfect for Idlis. My brothers call it ‘duplicate kari kuzhambhu’, as it  is much spicy and the taste immitates mutton kurma. (They eat meat.)  For a vegetarian  like  me , it is like a feast to have it with steaming idlis.


Though, almost every one of  the Indian bloggers has posted this, I feel it is good to share my  mom’s secret for a ‘malli poo idly’. Yes, my daughter used to describe my mom’s idly this way , meaning it is as soft and white as jasmine flower.


Idly rice- 4 and 1/2 cups

Urad dall- 1 cup

Fenugreek seeds- 1 tsp


Wash the rice twice and soak it with fenugreek seeds  for 2-3 hours.

Wash the dall twice and soak it separartely for half an hour to one hour.

Grind the dall first. Add minimum water and sprinkle ice cold water for better frothing. The right consistency of the batterThe grinder should run for atleast 30 min. Take the dall out and grind the rice next. When the rice is little coarse, add enough salt , unload and mix well with your hands. Make sure the batter has the right consistency  before fermenting. If you pour the batter from your hands, it should run down smoothly and slowly. After a thorough mixing, let it stand for 10- 12 hours. The batter would have risen good if it was in right consistency and  had the right amount of salt.

Mix again well and pour in the idly molds and steam cook for 15 minutes. To check the doneness, just touch the idlis and they should not stick to your hands. Take out  the molds from the stand and let it cool a while. Dip a spoon in water and use it to unmold the idlis. Hot and soft idlis are  ready to be served with chutney, sambhar or kurma.

Please note :

* The ratio for rice and urad dall varies with the variety we use.

* Also it is true that if it is an aged dall and rice , it yeilds more batter.

* My mom has the conventional idli steamer, in which she covers the mold plates with a wet white cotton cloth instead of greasing with oil. It is my belief that it is the cloth that  gives the ultra softness to the  idlis.

* You can  store this batter even for a week in the refrigerator, but always bring the batter to the room temperature  before steaming for better results.

* The consistency and salt are the key factors for a  perfect idli. If  the batter is watery,  the idli will not rise on steaming, on the other hand, if it is thick, the idli will be hard.

* You can store  the cooked idlis in the refrigerator. When  needed, steam it again in the cooker for hot and refreshed idlis. To reheat the idlis in the microwave oven,  simply wet the idlis in running water, place them as a layer on a microwavable  plate and cover with a wet paper towel and heat them for a couple of minutes.

* For a different redo of the idlis,  crumble them and do upma . Find here a lemony version of idli upma .

Idli batter - gracefully risen

Peppery potato kurma:


Potato- 2 number

Oil – 1/2 cup

Fennel seeds- 1 tsp

To grind:

Chana dall /Gram dall- 1/4 cup 

Medium sized onion-1 number

Medium sized tomato – 1 number

Cumin seeds- 1 tsp

Pepper corns- ½ tsp

Ginger- 2 inch  piece

Red chilli powder- 2 tsp

Coriander powder – 1/8 tsp

Turmeric powder- few pinches


Finely chop the potato. Take the ingredients in the ‘to grind’ list and grind with little water and make as a coarse paste. Stop stirring when all the oil oozes outHeat oil in a non stick skillet, sputter fennel seeds, add the ground paste, keep stirring continuously  till the raw smells fades away. Once the masala is sauted well and oil oozes out, add the chopped potato and stir slightly. Add  enough water and salt according to taste. You can test the spice level at this point.

Transfer the contents to a pressure cooker and cook  till you hear the first whistle. The curry thickens very well after cooking . If it is too thick , dilute with water and bring it  to another boil.


Idly and peppery potato kurma


Note: If you hesitate to use the liberal amount of oil asked for, the chana dal will stick (even)  to the (non stick) pan  and get burnt , spoiling the whole taste. Also stirring continously is  as  important  as the oil.

Go ahead and try this, I am sure this will be in your favourite list soon.

Updated on  Jan 21st :

Illustrating the cloth lining method


As Gini  wanted to know, I am  adding a picture to illustrate how to line the idli mold with damp  cotton cloth.

Latest posts by Lakshmiammal (see all)

47 thoughts on “Idly and peppery potato kurma”

  1. Sandeepa says:

    Believe me these idlys look soooooooo beautiful. I have not had kurma before but the idlys are breathtaking

  2. Lakshmik says:

    Yes, we used to refer to idli the same way back home too. We would say ‘poovu maari irikku’. The potato curry recipe sounds yummy :)

  3. Viji says:

    Very nice photo. Looks so real. one could see the texture of the idli. Nice write up. Viji

  4. Rashmi says:


  5. swapna says:

    hai lakshmi
    idlis are looking so soft…and tastier too..very nice..

  6. Asha says:

    Wonderful fluffy idlis! Potato Kurma looks yummy too.My kurma is out too.Thank you for the recipes LakshmiA!:) Happy Sankranti.

  7. Vini K says:

    Hi Lakshmi,idlis look just the way your daughter described-malli poo idlis.I used to use idli rava before but have now started using idli rice and I agree,idlis are softer,fluffier and most important,whiter!Never heard of kurma with idlis,will try it sometime.

    What you said about your mom using the wet cloth instead of oil is something I once saw my tamil friend do while in the US.She used to have round pieces of cloth with a hole in the middle so as to fit the idli stand-she would wet it and then layer it before pouring the idli batter into the moulds.I am going to try the same method soon as I have been wanting to do it since I saw my friend doing,about 5 yrs ago.Thanks for reminding me of that!:)

  8. Krithika says:

    Looks mouth-watering !!

  9. maheswari says:

    Idlies and kuruma looks delicious…My MIL used make potato kuruma for idlies , slight diffrent way though.Ihave idly batter now in the fridge, might try this out tonight itself..

  10. Sushma says:

    I never heard of using a wet cloth while using Idli. It might be the trick of those white fluffy idli’s. The Idli and kurma looks delicious. Thanxs for sharing

  11. Lakshmiammal says:

    Thank you friends , for the note of appreciation.

    Hi Rashmi,
    You need not roast the chana dal. Believe me, I had tried reducing the oil measure but it spoils the taste.

    Hi Ashaji,
    Happy pongal to you too! Also thanks a bunch
    for the mention in your meme!

    Hi Vini,
    Using idly rice gives always better results. Yet, we can use idli rava but must alter the ratio of rice :dall as 3:1.

    Even I use cloth here and feel I get softer edges. Also they come out of the mold so easily. Try it and tell me if you think like I do.

    HI Maheswari,
    I know you are an expert cook, am eager to get a gudos from an expert like you.

  12. Mythreyee says:

    Wonderful Photo and a Wonderful Recipe as well. thanks for sharing.

  13. shammi says:

    Man, I cant WAIT to try your version of potato kurma – it looks so delicious and spicy! :)

  14. RP says:

    Grind 30 minutes? Now I know why my idlis don’t look perfect like yours. I only grind around 5 minutes!

  15. Menu Today says:

    Hi Lakshmi,
    Enakku intha kurma romba pudhusu. parkka romba nalla irukku.

  16. Menu Today says:

    Hi lakshmi,
    Sometimes I too steam idlis using cloth. I like to have this hot idlis with onion chutney.Your idli looks so nice.

  17. giniann says:

    I think those are the best looking idlis in the blogosphere. They look so white! This was such a detailed post and I enjoyed reading it. This will be my Idli reference page from now on. That picture with the idli batter dripping from your hands was great too.
    I am not sure I understood using cloth to steam the idlis. Could you explain it a bit more?

  18. divya says:

    come back home and taste all of them when amma do it, in 1 more month.

  19. lakshmiammal says:

    Thanks Mythreyee!

    Shammi , Do tell me if you try it.

    Yes, no matter the measure of the dall, you need to run the grinder for 30 min.

    Thanks MT.

    Gini, I have updated the post and hope this helps! Thanks

    I am counting the days to come to India!

  20. giniann says:

    Thanks a lot for the update. I have never seen anything like this done. I am learning so much from just one post.

  21. lakshmiammal says:

    YOu are welcome , Gini

  22. Thanks for leaving your comment on our post. We would appreciate if you could blogroll us to your list.

  23. Reena says:

    At last I have managed to make soft and fluffy idlis. Thank you very much for this.The idlis I made were always flat. This time I bought the idli rice and used the proportion you suggested and voila!! soft, perfect idlis.

  24. kalpana says:

    Woww..i accidently came here..wat a variety and wat a collection of recipes…gonna try ur peppery potato kurma…great job lakshmiammal!

  25. Ramesh says:

    Dear LakshmiAmmal,

    That was one perfect step-by-step instructions of making White & Soft Idlies. Specially making idlies with “damp cloth” brought back lot of memories for me. This is defntly going to change my menu in a week.

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  26. pravnoy says:

    I have been trying make idly with 2:1 ratio using yeast in begining i i use to get good and nice ildy as the days passing but now i dont get better idly if i keep idly atta out side whole night its getting sour and its not getting fermented whats the problm with my batter would u pls let me know a s soon as bye waiting for ur reply

  27. Seetha Iyer says:

    I attempted making the kurma. It came out good. But I think it was not perfect.

    In your pic I see the oil oozing out of the masala. How long did you saute the ground masala? I kept on stirring the masala in medium heard for close to 20 minutes still I did not see the masala leaving out oil. Please keep in mind that I added the qty of oil as prescribed in the recipe

    thanks in advance,

  28. lakshmiammal says:

    Hi Seetha,
    I never timed my sauting, but I keep the heat low and do till it totally browns well and till the raw smell is out. Definitely it is longer than 20 mins. If you are not done that long, the kurma do taste kind of raw at the end.

  29. msumathis says:

    Excellent. I don’t have any other words to praise. Nice narration and makes a new bie to cook, Would be useful visiting often

  30. vinod agarwal says:

    I tried it, it was done perfectly as shone in the picture and was one of the best recipe simple & very very tasty, thanks lakshmi.

  31. Shai says:

    Dear lakshmi akka,

    Your idlies really look spongy and beautiful. Each time i make idlies, i seem to fail miserably. I am definately going to try this method. Before i experiment this, do you mind if i were to ask a few questions…

    1. What brand of idli rice do you use?
    2. Can the ratio be idli rice: urad dhal – 3:1?
    3. Can i use the same method if i am using a mixie?

    Thank you so much

    1. lakshmiammal says:

      I use Swad Idli rice or any brand that is available in the market for that matter.
      When you use mixie, the 3:1 ratio is helpful. Whereas, if you use the grinder, 3:1 makes the idlis flat. It also depends on how aged your urad dall is..
      Wish you good luck..

  32. sandhya says:

    Hi ma,

    How long should we grind the rice ?

  33. sandhya says:


    How long should we grind the rice ?

    1. lakshmiammal says:

      Till it is a fine batter.

  34. Pearlin says:

    the idlis and kurma look so yummy,is the urad dhal split or whole?

  35. Pearlin says:

    I used spilt dhal and used your proportions .came out exactly as you said, Maligaipoo idlis!!Thanks so much for the recipe.Now off to try the potato kurma.

  36. Swathi says:

    Hello Maam, I am from Germany. Is Idli rice same as Parboiled rice ? also if I am correct the proportion of rice and dal here is 4.5 : 1 correct ? Please confirm. Thank you Swathi.

  37. Riya Nath says:

    hi ma,

    should i use only pressure cooker to prepare this dish or can it be substituted with a pan

  38. Namrata Bhaskar says:

    I made the korma today for dinner and it was a hit.
    Thankyou lakshmiammal..
    I’m waiting to try the idlis..

  39. Mayank Jain says:

    hmm.. I take d taste of it really nice..!

  40. deepti says:

    Hi Lakshmi,
    Tried these for today’s breakfast and I am very happy with the result.
    Thanks for the perfect recipe. Previosly using idly rava used to yield disappointing results with some rava smell,no fluffiness and brownish col idlies. But now Iam gonna store this recipe. However haven’t used damp cloth yet but will try that soon.

  41. durgakarthik says:

    Hi , Tried this kurma yesterday so niceee. Cn i blog about my preparation of ur recipe mentioning ur Blog id in mine . thanks.

    1. lakshmiammal says:

      Sure Please link back to my blog,

  42. durgakarthik says:

    Hi i tried this kurma with a slight modification and have posted in my blog. . Do visit mine.

  43. Ramya says:

    Looks yummy:)))…Please post some tips for white fluffy idlis:)

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