Kanchipuram Idli – Prasadam at Varadaraja Perumal Temple

Kanchipuram Idli - Prasadam from Varadaraja Perumal Koyil
Kanchipuram Idli

Kanchipuram (aka Kanjeevaram or simply Kanchi)  near Chennai in Tamil Nadu is famous for its silk sarees and its temples. Given that I am fond of both, going to Kanchipuram is always a pleasure for me.

Read more about Kanchipuram at www.kanchi.tn.nic.in.

While I have been to Kanchi many times, the first time I really visited Kanchi properly was after much planning and of course, divine grace.

In Andhra Pradesh, there is a popular saying that in a lifetime a person must visit the three devis; Kasi Visalakshi, Kanchi Kamakshi, and Madhura (Madurai) Meenakshi. My mother visited Kasi Visalakshi many times (espically because she travelled often to Benaras Hindu University) and as a family we had been to Madurai.

However, for some reason, a visit to Kanchi never seemed to materialize. We visited Chennai often but something or the other would get in the way of going to Kanchipuram. One time, we were all booked but had to cancel because of a cyclone. Yet another time, we took a tourist bus to Kanchi from Chennai determined to visit the Kamakshi temple, but discovered (much to our discomfort) that the operator skipped the Kamakshi temple because it would take too much time.

So many slips were there between the cup and the lip, that my normally resilient and optimistic mother had decided she will never get to visit Kanchi Kamakshi!

When my mother retired, I made it my mission to take her to Kanchi. Amma and I went to Chennai for the annual Kutcheri season, and I quietly booked a 2-day trip to Kanchipuram without telling Amma. We were off to Chennai by train and as the train approached Arakonam, I had to tell my mother that we were getting off there and heading to Kanchi.

She was quite pleasantly surprised and the 2 days that followed were absolutely magical. We stayed at the Tamil Nadu Tourism Guest House quite close to the Kamakshi Temple, and the first thing we did on checking in was bathe and head out to the temple. We had a very peaceful darshanam and spent quite a while in the temple. We went back again the early next morning, and I must say that was one of the happiest days in my life because I was able to fulfil my mother’s dream.

Read more about the Kanchi Kamakshi temple at www.kanchikamakshi.com.

We visited many other temples in Kanchi but the one other temple that stood out was the Varadaraja Perumal Temple. I felt strangely at peace when I was at this temple.

Read more about the Varadaraja Temple at www.kanchivaradarajartemple.com.

One another thing that I remember about the temple was the special Kanchipuram Idli that was served as prasadam. It looked nothing like a regular idli and tasted quite spicy. As is wont with prasadam, the taste was something special and I have searched for this idli in vain elsewhere. Some Mumbai Udupi eateries, do serve Kanchipuram idli but that one is nothing like what I had in the temple.

Then I chanced upon this recent article in The Hindu, waxing eloquent about Kanchipuram idli. More importantly, it had the recipe from the temple. What more could I ask for! And when I tried the recipe, it turned out just like the prasadam I remembered. 🙂

So here it is!

How to Make Kanchipuram Idli

Preparation Time: 10-14 Hours

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4


  1. Udad Dal – 1/4 Cup
  2. Rice – 1/2 Cup
  3. Methi or Fenugreek Seeds – 1/4 tsp
  4. Miri or Pepper Corns – 8
  5. Jeera or Cumin Seeds – 3/4 tsp
  6. Soonth or Dry Ginger Powder – 1/2 tsp
  7. Hing or Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
  8. Ghee – 2 tbsp
  9. Curry Leaves – A Few
  10. Salt to Taste


  1. Wash the rice and udad dal thoroughly.
  2. Soak rice, udad dal, and fenugreek seeds in 3 cups of water for at least 4 hours. If the weather is cold, soak for longer.
  3. Drain the water and set some of it aside.
  4. Soak the rice-udad dal mixture into a coarse paste with a little water. The batter should be thick and just slide off (not pour off) a spoon.
  5. Add salt and mix well.
  6. Let the batter ferment for 8 to 10 hours. It should rise to twice the quantity.
  7. In a ladle, heat the ghee.
  8. Add the cumin and stir fry for 10 seconds.
  9. Add pepper and curry leaves.
  10. Stir fry for 5 seconds.
  11. Turn off the heat.
  12. Add asafoetida and immediately add to the batter.
  13. Mix well.
  14. Add the dry ginger powder and mix well.
  15. Grease a 8″ plate with some ghee.
  16. Pour in the batter to 1/2 the plate height.
  17. In a pressure cooker, steam for 6-8 minutes.
  18. Turn off the heat and wait for 10 minutes.
  19. Take the plate out of the cooker.
  20. Use a knife and gently loosen the edges of the idli.
  21. Overturn in a larger plate and tap the plate so that the idli falls into the plate below.
  22. Cut and serve Kanchipuram Idli with Coconut Chutney or Coconut and Coriander Chutney.


  • Kanchipuram Idli is quite heavy so beware of how much you make or eat.
  • You can try with this with the regular idli batter also but it does not taste as good because the udad:rice proportion is different.

My fellow blogger, Durga of Durga’s Delicacies also used The Hindu article as a base for making Kanchipuram Idlis. You can find her recipe here.


  1. Being a resident of Kanchipuram I thank you for your interest in Kanchi Temples and Kanchipuram idly. Usually it is called Kanchipuram idly by the outsiders of Kanchipuram. In Kanchipuram it is called KOVIL IDLY as it is offered in the Kovil(temple) to LORD VARADARAJAR.

    1. hi, what time koil idly surely available in varadaraja koil as I’ve to come from Chennai and plan accordingly. tnx, rajesh kmr

  2. Very nice read Aruna. If you visit Chennai again, you can let me know in advance. If i am in town, pl do think of dropping in! Yes, Kanchipuram is where mostly we do our silk shopping and the Kamakshi and Varadharajan temples are our favourites. We also make Kanchivaram idlis at home regularly. You may also exchange your old silks in authentic silk shops in Kanchi for a reasonable rates.

  3. Thanks for the post. I am from Kancheepuram. We used to mix half, Boiled rice and half raw rice for this idli. This proportion of rice mixture will taste better.

  4. I have a similar story.. My mom has been wanting to go to Thirupathi but some how it has never materialized. I really pray I can surprise her sometime soon
    I heard of the idili so much but never had them.. these look delicious.

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Do leave me a comment.