Masala idli is a quick and tasty snack made with leftover idli, aromatics and herbs. This is one of my favorite way of using leftover idli. I usually make them as an evening snack. Choose to make this hearty snack with regular sized idli or even small idli.
Have a lot of leftover idli? There is no dearth of snacks you can make with them in the Indian cuisine. I have shared some on the blog. Have a look at this delicious leftover idli recipes.
To make masala idli, I have used idli which had been refrigerated for a day. You can also use fresh idli but make sure they are not hot or warm.
A lot of flavor in this recipe comes from pav bhaji masala. So use pav bhaji masala that is good or your favorite brand. The recipe can also be doubled or scaled easily to suit your requirements.
This recipe will give you a spicy masala idli. However, you can decrease red chilli powder and pav bhaji masala powder for a lesser spicy taste.
Serve masala idli hot or warm for best taste, texture and flavor. While serving you can sprinkle lemon juice if you want a bright tangy flavor.
How to make Masala Idli
1. Chop 5 to 6 medium-sized idli and set aside in a bowl or plate. Make bite sized pieces and do not chop finely as shown in the below photo.
Use idli which have been refrigerated for some hours or overnight.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add ¼ teaspoon cumin and let them crackle.
You can use any neutral flavored oil or even coconut oil. For a vegetarian version you can use ghee or butter.
3. Then add ½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste. Sauté on a low heat for a few seconds or till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
4. Then add ⅓ cup finely chopped onions.
5. Mix well and sauté stirring often on low to medium-low heat till the onions turn translucent or a light brown.
6. When the onions have softened, add ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes.
7. Mix well to combine with the sautéed onions.
8. Add 1 green chili, chopped or about ½ teaspoon chopped green chillies.
9. Sauté stirring often till the tomatoes soften on low to medium-low heat.
10. Once the tomatoes have softened, add a pinch of turmeric powder, ¼ teaspoon red chili powder and ½ teaspoon pav bhaji masala. Also add salt as per taste.
11. Mix the spices very well with the onion-tomato mixture.
12. Add ¼ cup water. Note that if you have used fresh idli then don’t add any water. You can even skip adding water if you want.
13. Mix well and simmer the gravy on a low to medium heat.
14. Simmer till the gravy thickens. This takes about 2 to 3 minutes on a low heat.
Remember the gravy has to be thick before you add the idli. If the gravy is watery or runny, the idli will soften too much and might crumble or break.
15. Add the chopped idli.
16. Mix the idlis with the gravy. The idli will absorb the gravy and become moist and soft.
17. Switch off the heat and lastly add chopped coriander leaves. Stir and mix well to combine.
18. Serve masala idli hot or warm. You can sprinkle lemon juice on it if you like. Masala idli tastes good as is and does not need any accompaniment. This snack taste best when served hot or warm.
If serving as an evening snack, then you can have it with tea or coffee.
If you are looking for more Indian Breakfast Recipes then do check:
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Masala Idli | Leftover Idli Recipes
- 5 to 6 regular medium sized idlis
- ⅓ cup finely chopped onions or 1 medium onion
- ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes or 1 medium to large tomato
- 1 green chili – chopped or ½ teaspoon chopped green chillies
- ½ teaspoon Ginger Garlic Paste or ½ inch ginger + 3 to 4 small to medium garlic cloves, crushed to a paste in mortar-pestle
- 1 pinch turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- ¼ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon Pav Bhaji Masala
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ¼ cup water – optional
- 1 to 2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
- Chop the idli and keep them aside in a bowl or plate. Make bite sized pieces and do not chop finely.
- Finely chop 1 medium sized onion and 1 medium to large sized tomato. Keep them aside.
- Also chop 1 green chillii. Keep aside.
- Also crush ½ inch ginger + 3 to 4 garlic cloves to a paste in mortar-pestle. Keep aside.
Making masala idli
- Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds and let them crackle on low to medium-low heat.
- Then add ginger-garlic paste. Saute for a few seconds or till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
- Then add finely chopped onions.
- Stir well and saute on low to medium-low heat till the onions turn translucent or a light brown. Stir often while sautéing onions.
- Now add finely chopped tomatoes.
- Stir and mix well. Then add chopped green chilies. Saute till the tomatoes soften on low to medium-low heat.
- Then add turmeric powder, red chili powder and pav bhaji masala. Also add salt as per taste.
- Stir and mix the spices very well with the onion-tomato mixture.
- Add water. Use idlis which have been refrigerated. If using fresh idlis then don't add any water. You can even skip adding water if you want.
- Mix well and simmer the gravy on a low to medium heat.
- Simmer till the gravy thickens. This takes about 2 to 3 minutes on a low heat. Make sure that the gravy thickens. If the gravy is runny or watery the idli will soften and crumble.
- Then add the chopped idli.
- Mix the idlis very well. The idli will absorb a bit of the thick gravy and become moist and soft.
- Switch off the heat and lastly add chopped coriander leaves. Mix well.
- Serve masala idli hot or warm. You can sprinkle lemon juice if you want. I recommend to have this dish as soon as it is made for best taste and flavor.
- You can alter the spices and seasonings according to your taste preferences.
- Use a day old idli which has been refrigerated. You can opt to use fresh idli but make sure they are at room temperature.
- You can scale the recipe easily to suit your needs.
- Omit adding water if you like a crispy texture in the masala idli.
This Masala Idli post from the archives first published in June 2016 has been republished and updated on 4 June 2022.