Idli Maker Buying Guide
Here at Curry Fayre, we love all kinds of Indian cuisine, not just the amazing curries! One of the lesser known types of Indian cuisine is breakfast foods – not many people know about traditional Indian breakfast fare.
One of the most popular type of Indian breakfast dish is idli, which is a mainstay of breakfast dishes throughout southern India and much of Sri Lanka. A type of savoury rice cake, idli is made from a batter consisting of rice and black lentils, which are steam cooked and formed into small cakes.
Soft and sumptuous, idli is not only delicious but also incredibly versatile, with all kinds of variations of the recipe. It can be made with different ingredients, such as semolina (called rava idli), and can be served alongside all kinds of things, such as chutney and sambar.
If you want to try your hand at making mouth-watering idli at home, then it is a good idea to invest in an idli maker, as it makes the entire cooking process much easier!
What is an Idli Maker?
As the name suggests, an idli maker is a type of utensil used to cook idli. While they use few ingredients, idli does require steaming to cook, which is not always easy using standard steaming utensils.
An idli maker is designed to make steaming idli quick and easy. It features several trays to place the rice cakes for steaming, which are then stacked inside of a pot and placed on the hob for steaming. You get all the tools for steaming the cakes in handy device, with an idli maker consisting of a pot/pan, trays for placing the cakes moulds, and a secure lid to maintain the pressure.
While you can find an idli maker that works in a microwave, these are usually not the best option for authentic idli. Stovetop idli makers are considered the best choice for making fluffy idli that is not overcooked or undercooked.
Reasons to Buy and Idli Maker
One of the main reasons to buy an idli maker is how simple they are to use! Just place the rice cake batter into the mould on the stacking plates, fill the pot with boiling water, and then cover them the lid to steam cook.
After about 15 minutes, you simply remove the plates and you are left with beautifully steamed idli!
Doing this without a good idli maker is much more difficult. The plates come with moulds for the idli batter, so you can create uniform portions that cook evenly under the steam pressure, so without them you might end up with uneven, unproperly cooked idli.
Moreover, the idli maker keeps everything in a single unit, letting you easily cook the cakes using high pressure steam. Simply fill will a small amount of boiling water, place the plates inside the pot, and secure the lid in place to cook them.
Plus, an idli maker can be used to steam all kinds of foods beyond Indian cuisine. Because the device is essentially a type of steamer, it can be used to steam vegetables and meats too, so you should get plenty of use for it beyond making idli.
Types of Idli Maker
Like many Indian cooking utensils, there are several types of idli maker available. Here is a quick overview of each type and what benefits they offer:
Microwave Idli Maker
While the most cost-effective option, a microwave idli maker does not make the greatest idli, which is best made with the steaming method. Fast and easy to use, you place the batter inside of the plate, which is usually ceramic or plastic to be microwave-safe.
Traditional Idli Maker
A conventional idli maker works on cooktop surfaces like gas and electric hobs. It looks like a large steaming pot or egg poacher, with several trays or plates stacked inside where you place the idli batter.
You simply fill the pot with water, let it reach a boil, place the plates inside, and then secure the lid to cook using high pressure steam. Cooking time takes 10-15 minutes and will leave you with soft, fluffly idli with minimal effort.
Things to Consider When Buying an Idli Maker
Looking for the best idli maker but are unsure what you need? Here are some things to consider when buying an idli maker:
Idli makers vary in size, with some designed to make a few rice cakes while others can make over a dozen. The more plates that are included in the maker, the more idli you can make at once, so be sure to check how many plates are included before you buy.
Also, remember that the more plates that are included, the larger the cooking pot. This could be an issue if you are short on storage space and don’t want to buy anything too large. Of course, the more idli you want to make the larger size of idli maker you will need!
Lid and Handles
Because an idli maker uses high pressure steam to cook the rice cakes, you need to ensure there are suitable safety features in place. The two main things to focus on in terms of safety are the handles and the lid.
Ensure the handles are large enough for you to safely carry from the cooker to the sink, while looking for heat-resistant materials on the handles to keep hands safe. Always look for a lid that uses a secure latch to keep the pressure inside the pot, while avoiding any lid made from glass (this overheats and breaks much easier).
Most conventional idli makers work on both gas and electric hobs, although make sure to double-check before you buy to be safe. If you own an induction cooker, then you will need to ensure that the idli maker is compatible, as cookware for these types of cookers require an adonized base to work properly.
Even the best idli makers need regular maintenance, so look for features that make it easier to maintain it. For example, check to see if it is dishwasher safe, as this makes cleaning the idli maker much quicker and convenient.