air fryer recipe : fried idli recipe in air fryer

air fryer fried idli

Air fryer ‘fried idli’ recipe was something that came as a flash to me. Idli and dosa type breakfasts are quite common in my home as I feel these can be very inclusive recipes. One can include millets and different types of rice in both dosa and idli batter and the chutneys can be even more versatile in terms of protein content and greens or vegetables of the season.

More than dosa, I love idlis and I feel idli is the most underrated food in India. As I have written before on this blog, idli is the best gluten free bread, that too made with sourdough fermentation, a complete protein and allows inclusion of healthy fats into the meal in the form of chutneys and ghee+podi combination. What more can we ask from a humble food that has nourished several generations since time immemorial. Yes idli was known in the southern parts of the country since thousands of years.

For many years my idli and dosa batter has always had some millet or heirloom rice varieties in it, sometimes even barley. The barley and chana dal dosa and pesarettu are the ones that don’t need fermentation but the idea of making dosa, adai or idli in my kitchen is to include as many unconventional grains and lentils as possible. The multigrain fermented batter dosa and ragi dosa are some of the favourites.

And we love idlis made of many types of grains and lentils including this fresh corn idli.

So when there were a few idlis leftover one day and since it was made with 1:1 ratio of urad dal and kodo millet, it was a bit dry to be made into the normal pan fried idli that we usually make with leftovers. I thought of soaking it up with a dressing of sorts and then air frying so the edges get crisp and the inside of the idli cubes remain soft like bread. The experiment was a success in the first try and I have been making it quite frequently now.

This air fryer ‘fried idli’ has become a favored way of having idli now. We have been consuming these as croutons in our soup too and the taste is incredible, especially when we use tomatoes in the ‘dressing’.

Read on what I mean by the dressing of the fried idli. It does become a salad ingredient very conveniently.

6-7 leftover idlis
2 large fully ripe tomatoes, juicy variety preferably
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp sesame oil or coconut oil, use a bit more if you don’t have restrictions
Salt to taste


Cut the tomatoes into halves and then slice them lengthwise thinly.

Chop the idlis into bite sized cubes.

In a mixing bowl bring all the ingredients except idli and mix with a spoon making sure the juice of the tomatoes get released. Add about 50 ml water or diluted lime juice if tomatoes are dry. This is your dressing for the fried idlis in air fryer.

Let this mix rest for 10-15 minutes.

If you want the idli cubes to be coated into a saucy mix you can liquidise all the above ingredients together and proceed.

Now mix the idli cubes with the tomato ‘dressing’, toss well to coat each cube till all liquid disappears.

Transfer this mix to the air fryer basket and air fry on high for 5 minutes. Take out the basket, turn the idli cubes well and air fry again for 2-4 minutes depending on how crisp you want the edges of idli cubes. The tomato slices will turn leathery and some of them may get blisters too, making them even more delicious.

air fryer fried idli

Serve immediately as a snack or starter, mix with salads or add to your soups and see how no one can keep their spoons and forks away from their plates.

Now a quick recipe of the millet idli. 

Soak kodo millet (or any other millet) and urad dal separately for 3-4 hours or overnight. The quantity of both will be similar, that is, 1 cup each, if you are planning to make idlis of a small family and some leftovers. 

Grind the soaked urad dal in a mixie jar after draining the water. Add a little soaking water to make a fluffy smooth paste. Pour the urad paste into a deep pot and now grind the soaked millet with as little water as possible. The millet will also be ground smooth but it wont get fluffy. Empty the millet paste to the pot with urad paste, whisk well to incorporate. Add salt and a little water to make a cake dough like consistency of the batter. Keep the batter in a warm place and allow to ferment till the volume becomes 1.5 times. 

Grease the idli moulds and pour idli batter into them. You can steam the idlis in shallow plates or bowls as well, refer to this post about making idlis for better understanding. To scoop the batter you must take care not to disturb the batter and just scoop gently to not deflate the air pockets. Steam the idlis for 15 minutes and demould when a little colder. Serve warm with chutney or as desired. 

Don't forget to hide some idlis to make the air fryer fried idli.