Masala idli fry or fried idli is a quick stir fry of idli, with peppers, onions and chillies to make this wonderful snack or breakfast that is best enjoyed with a side of hot chai.
To those uninitiated into the world of Indian cooking, lets take a quick look at what idlis are.
Idlis are spongy steamed cakes made with a fermented batter of rice and lentils. It is a southern Indian breakfast speciality. Though idlis are usually made with fermented batter, there are some quick versions too – like the rava idlis that I make more often.
Whenever I make idlis, I like to make a few extra batches, just so I have some leftover to quickly make these idli fry or some idli upma for a quick breakfast or evening snack with tea.
This masala fried idli is
- Delicious and full of flavor
- Very easy to make
- A quick recipe
- A great breakfast or snack recipe
- Vegan and gluten free
- Perfect after school snack
Do I need leftover idlis to make this idli fry?
This idli fry, or whatever else you may want to call it as it doesn’t have an official name, is a quick stir fry with some veggies and cut up idlis. If you have the mini idli plate to make mini idlis, you can just use them as it is. I usually take out the regular idli plates, so I cut them up in quarters.
You can make them with freshly made idlis or leftover idlis. Leftover idlis that have been refrigerated work better as they tend to hold their shape better when stir frying.
What other ingredients can you add to fried idlis?
I love adding vegetables to this masala idli fry. My favorite vegetables to add to this are green, red and orange bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and of course some green chillies or serrano peppers for the heat.
Masala Idli Fry method
- Pop the mustard seeds in hot oil and add the chopped onions and green chillies to it.
- Once the onions are soft, add the turmeric powder.
- Add the tomatoes and peppers. Cook for a few minutes till the tomatoes are soft.
- Add salt and cubed idli pieces. Mix well and let it cook for a couple of minutes for the idli pieces to absorb the flavors.
- Turn off the heat, squeeze some lime over it and garnish with some finely chopped cilantro.
You don’t really need chutney, sambar or any other accompaniments to it. Just take some in a bowl and devour it in between sips of hot chai. You may choose to add a dash of ketchup on top if you wish to do so.
I sometimes love topping with a little bit of nylon sev for some crunch.
Tips for making masala idli fry
- Use a day old refrigerated idli for the idlis to stay put in this recipe. You don't have to bring the idlis to room temperature or heat them up separately. Just take them out of the refrigerator, cube and add to the rest of the ingredients in the pan.
- Watch for the heat of the peppers and tone it down, if you plan to serve kids. My kiddo loves spice and heat, so I always make it the same way for all of us.
- Variations - you can add ginger garlic paste along with the onions and some garam masala at the end to make it more spicy.
Here are some other Southern Indian breakfasts you will love
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Idli Masala Fry
- 8-10 cooked idlis
- 2 tablespoon avocado oil
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 8-10 curry leaves
- 3 –4 thai green chillies / 2 serrano peppers
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ red onion , chopped chunkily
- 1 green bell pepper , chopped in chunks
- ½ red bell pepper , chopped in chunks
- ½ yellow bell pepper , chopped in chunks
- 1 roma tomato , chopped
- salt , to taste
- minced cilantro for garnish , as needed
- ½ lime
- Cut up the idlis to quarters and keep aside.
- Heat the oil in a kadhai and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the curry leaves and green chillies. Toss in the onion and turmeric as well and mix well.
- Now add the peppers and the tomato and sauté for a few minutes till the peppers soften a bit.
- Add salt, mix well and remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lime and toss again.
- Serve hot with a cup of hot chai.
This post was first published in June 2017 and was later updated with more information.