Fried Idli (Mumbai Style Recipe)

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Got some leftover Idli at home? Don’t want to just reheat them and eat with the usual chutney and sambar? Well, I’ve just got the recipe for you to turn those into a crunchy, munchy, yummy dish – the Fried Idli, a specialty from the food culture of Mumbai in Maharashtra. Besides being a quick snack made with leftover idlis, this Fried Idli recipe is also a famous breakfast dish in many South Indian restaurants across Mumbai. With just 4 ingredients, this is a vegan recipe as well.  

fried idli served on a white plate with a bowl of sambar kept on the top right side.

About Fried Idli

As the name of the recipe suggests, Fried Idli simply means idli that is deep fried. Basically, in this recipe, the idlis are cut into thick batons or fingers or wedges and then deep-fried to a crispy, golden perfection.

This is then followed by a sprinkle of either of these ground spice powders on the crispy idlis – red chilli powder, chaat masala powder, Idli Podi or pav bhaji masala.

This Fried Idli is the way I would have the same dish in the South Indian or Udupi restaurants of Mumbai.

While making this Fried Idli recipe at home, you can customize the dish and choose to sprinkle the fried idlis with any masala of your choice. Personally, I love the idli podi and red chili powder with these crunchy idli fingers.

In addition to this Idli Fry, these are some of the easy-peasy and basic, yet scrumptious dishes that you can make with leftover idlis:

This is a super easy recipe made with a minimum number of ingredients that you can ever imagine of.

You can relish this Fried Idli with your favorite coconut chutney or even with tomato ketchup or a green chutney made with coriander or mint leaves.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Fried Idli

1. Cut 4 to 5 refrigerated or day old idlis into fingers or wedges or batons.

Do not use idlis that are steaming hot or made on the same day. As these are too soft, fluffy and moist, they can break in the oil while frying.

leftover idlis cut into fingers.

2. Heat oil for deep frying in a kadai or pan till medium hot. Add the idli fingers and deep fry till light golden or slightly more.

Do not fry for a longer time and make them too golden or brown. Ideally, the fried idli pieces should be crisp from outside and soft from inside.

You can also opt to pan fry or shallow fry them. If pan frying or shallow frying, then keep the idlis whole and do not chop them. It is easier to pan fry or shallow fry whole idlis than chopped idlis. If you prefer, you can also halve them.

frying idli fingers in hot oil.

3. Remove the smaller pieces first as they will get fried quickly. Drain the Fried Idli on kitchen paper towels to remove excess oil.

Sprinkle either chaat masala, red chili powder, pav bhaji masala or idli podi on top and some salt. Mix well so that masala coats the Fried Idli evenly.

idli fry placed on kitchen paper towel.

4. Serve Fried Idli hot with Sambar, Coconut Chutney or tomato ketchup.

fried idli served on a white plate with a bowl of sambar kept on the top left side.

Here’s to leftover food

I don’t know about the rest of the world and different cuisine cultures, but in India, food is actually considered as sacred and an emotion in itself.

Whether in north, south, east, west or central regions, an Indian is quite sensitive about their own regional delicacies as well as food in totality.

So, with leftover food as well, we Indians try and use it the maximum times and not dump it in trash bins. Especially for home cooks, cooking with leftover food is a common phenomenon in their day-today lives.

We might just reheat the same food and consume it. But because we are also creative, there are many dishes that are especially created with leftover food being the primary ingredient.

Just like this Fried Idli, there are many other Indian recipes that are developed using leftover food. There’s an entire range of sabzis or dry vegetable preparations that are used as a stuffing or filling to make scrumptious sandwiches, rolls and wraps.

Then, there are dishes like this Masala Rice done with leftover rice, the Punjabi Aloo Tikki Chole with leftover chana masala and some South Indian dishes like Kuzhi Paniyaram and Sweet Paniyaram made with leftover idli/dosa batter.

This recipe of Fried Idli happens to be a hit amongst all my family members too. So, whenever there’s idli on the menu, the next day I end up making this crispy and tasty dish for sure.

Expert Tips

  1. To make this dish, you can use only leftover idlis or a day-old idlis that have been refrigerated. Don’t use fresh idli because it is soft. Thus, can break in the oil while frying and absorb a lot of oil as well. It can also stick to each other while frying.
  2. It is always better to refrigerate the idli for a few hours before you fry them. This way, they won’t break while frying in the hot oil.
  3. In case you don’t want to deep-fry the idlis, you can also either pan-fry or shallow-fry them.
  4. While frying idlis, the smaller pieces get fried quickly as compared to the larger pieces. So, you have to remove the small pieces first. If not done this way and fried all the pieces equally, then the outside texture of smaller pieces will turn a little dense due to extra frying and you may not like them.
  5. Don’t fry the idlis too brown. They should be crisp from outside and soft from inside.

More Idli Variants To Try!

Moderate40 mins

Oats Idli

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idli fry recipe, mumbai style idli fry recipe

Fried Idli

As the name suggests, Fried Idli is simply idli that is deep fried. The idli is chopped into wedges, batons or fingers and deep fried. Made with leftover idlis, serve this crispy, tasty snack with coconut chutney, sambar or tomato ketchup.
4.92 from 12 votes
Prep Time 1 min
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 11 mins
Cuisine South Indian
Course Breakfast, Snacks
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 2
Units

Ingredients

  • 4 to 5 Idli or as required, one day old refrigerated idli
  • chaat masala or pav bhaji masala or red chilli powder or idli podi as required
  • salt as required
  • oil as required to deep fry or shallow fry

Instructions
 

  • Cut the refrigerated or day old idlis into wedges, as shown in the photo above in the step-by-step guide.
  • Heat oil in a kadai or pan till medium hot. Add the idli fingers and deep fry till light golden or slightly more.
  • Ideally, the fried idli pieces should be crisp from outside and soft from inside. You can also pan fry or shallow fry them.
    Do not make them too brown or golden.
  • Remove the smaller pieces first as they will get fried quickly. Drain the fried idli on paper towels to remove excess oil.
  • Sprinkle either red chilli powder or pav bhaji masala or chaat masala or idli podi on top and some salt. Simply mix well so that masala is coated evenly.
  • Serve the Fried Idli with sambar or coconut chutney or tomato ketchup.

Notes

  • Use only a day old or refrigerated idli to make this snack. Freshly steamed idli can break in the oil while frying as they are too soft, fluffy and moist. 
  • Always refrigerate the idli before frying. 
  • Opt to shallow fry or pan fry the idlis if you prefer. If pan frying or shallow frying, keep the idli whole as it is easier to pan fry/shallow fry them this way. If you prefer, you can halve them.
  • Add your choice of spices and seasonings to the fried idli.

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This Fried Idli from the archives first published in May 2014 has been updated and republished on December 2022.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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43 Comments

  1. I’ve used this recipe and liked the result. Any estimate on how many calories a single deep fried idly contains?

    1. thanks. i do not have any estimate on how many calories 1 deep fried idli will have. but i am sure it will be high in calories.

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