Every self-respecting South Indian loves idlis, no? These light and fluffy steamed cakes made from fermented rice and lentils have that perfect mix of protein and carb that you need to kickstart your day, and dunked in sambhar and coconut chutney or slathered with ghee-podi (spice mix powder mixed with ghee), they're superbly soft and delicious. But too much of anything gets boring, and that's when you find yourself staring at your spice shelf and your fridge shelves and pulling open all the condiment drawers and cupboards in your kitchen, wondering what you can do to make things interesting again. 

Here are 6 great ways to pimp up your idlis!

1. Masala idlis

I shared a recipe for these a little while ago. Masala idlis are really easy to make. You just toss your mini idlis or quartered normal sized idlis in a tadka of curry leaves, chillies, mustard seeds and urad dal. Here's my masala idli recipe

2. Idli upma

Again, really simple. Crumble your steamed idlis with your hands and place aside. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan on medium. When hot, sizzle a tsp of mustard seeds and a sprig of curry leaves. Add the crumbled idlis, sprinkle half a tsp of turmeric powder, a tsp of chilli powder, and salt, and mix through. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, turning over occasionally. Serve hot

3. Fried idlis

Heat oil in a pan, and shallow fry the idlis till uniformly brown. Drain on some kitchen towels, and quarter. In the meantime, heat a tbsp of oil in a pan, and sizzle a sprig of curry leaves and a tsp of mustard seeds. Then, brown a finely chopped onion. Next, sauté  3 cloves of finely chopped garlic and half an inch of finely chopped ginger next. In a couple of minutes, add the quartered idlis and mix through, coating with the masala. Sprinkle 2 tsp of red chilli powder and salt. Mix through, allow to cook for 3 - 4 minutes, serve hot

4. Idli skewers

Mix 3 heaped tablespoons of yogurt with a heaped tsp of ginger-garlic paste, a tsp of red chilli powder, a tsp of garam masala, a tbsp of oil, and salt. Marinate the quartered idlis/whole mini idlis with this mixture and place in the fridge for an hour. In the meantime, chop an onion and a green pepper into large pieces and marinate with a tbsp of oil, a tsp of red chilli and salt. Keep aside till the idlis are ready to be pulled out of the fridge. Pre-heat a grill to 250 degrees celcius. Skewer a piece of marinated pepper, then a piece of onion and then an idli. Repeat. Grill for approx 15 minutes, turning around half-way, till the idlis and vegetables start to brown. Serve hot

5. Idli bhurji

Similar to idli upma, but with a North Indian twist. Crumble the idlis with your hands. Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan. When hot, add a tsp of cumin seeds and a finely chopped green chilli, and sizzle. Add a finely chopped onion, 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, and half an inch of finely chopped ginger, and sauté till the onions are golden brown. Add one chopped tomato and sauté for a few minutes, till the oil starts to separate. Add the crumbled idlis, sprinkle salt and 2 pinches of crushed kasoori methi, and mix through. Allow to cook for about 4 minutes, mixing occasionally. Serve hot

6. Coconut and carrot idlis

Dice the idlis. Scrape and grate quarter of a coconut, and grate half a carrot. Roast and coarsely grind 2 tbsp of peanuts. Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan. When hot, sizzle a tsp of mustard seeds, a sprig of curry leaves, and a finely sliced green chilli. Sauté for 15 seconds or so, and then add the grated carrot. Continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes, till the carrots start to soften. Then add the grated coconut and continue to sauté for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the diced idlis, sprinkle salt and mix through. Allow to cook for 5 - 7 minutes, turning occasionally. Sprinkle the ground peanuts and mix through. Cook for another 2 minutes. Serve hot

Give these a whirl and tell me what you think!