Horse Gram Idli (Kulitha Rononu)

Horse Gram Idli (Kulitha Rononu)

Horse gram is ground and added to idli batter to make horse gram idlis, a very old Konkani breakfast. My mom has fond memories of her granny cooking this up for them. Traditionally, these horse gram idlis are steamed in a steamer lined up with banana leaves like in the images below. All the batter is poured into the steamer lined with banana leaves. After steaming, you then cut it into tiny pieces while serving. They are called as kulitha rononu in Konkani. Traditionally, horse gram idlis are also made by steaming them in jackfruit leaves baskets. They are then called kulitha khotto in Konkani. That way these idlis have a divine taste and smell from banana leaves/jackfruit leaves.

If you can't find banana leaves and jackfruit leaves, then you can steam them in idli mouldsidli plates. But nothing beats the smell and taste, banana leaves and jackfruit leaves impart to these idlis. 

Whenever we got bored of idlis or mom has some extra idli batter remaining, she usually grinds up some horse gram and adds it to the idli batter to make these horse gram idlis. 

Horse gram idlis are a nice way to include horse gram in your diet. Through this breakfast you get to reap all it’s health benefits.

Traditionally, horse gram idlis are served with coconut chutneys and pickles. Horse gram idlis taste amazing with just coconut oil on top, whether they are served steaming hot or once cold. I just eat them as-is with loads of coconut oil on top. And personally I prefer to eat these horse gram idlis cold rather than steaming hot.


  • 3/4 cup urad dal
  • 3 cups of rice semolina (idli rava, rice rava)
  • 3/4 cup horse gram
  • Salt to taste

Serves: 3-4

Total Prep Time: 60 minutes

Soaking time for urad dal: 30 minutes

Soaking time for horse gram: Overnight. 6 hours minimum or you don't get a fluffy batter.

Preparation Method:

For best tasting horse gram idlis, grind the idli batter on the previous night of preparation so that it ferments well. Mix ground horse gram with the fermented batter, just before steaming. 

Prepping to be done the previous night:

  1. Soak horse gram over night using enough water.
  2. And to make a idli batter, soak urad dal for a minimum of 30 minutes. After soaking, wash them well and drain all the water. 
  3. Grind urad dal using as little water as possible into a smooth paste. Use a wet grinder for a super smooth, fluffy batter. 
  4. Transfer the ground batter into a big vessel. Add in rice semolina, salt and mix well. The batter tends to rise on fermentation so use a bigger vessel.
  5. Keep the batter closed aside and allow it to ferment overnight for a minimum of 7-8 hours on hot days and 12-14 hours during winter. If you live in a cold region look for tips to ferment the batter below.

Prepping to be done the next morning, before steaming horse gram idlis:

  1. Just before you steam these horse gram idlis in the morning, wash the horse gram well, drain all the water.
  2. Grind it into a smooth, fluffy batter in a wet grinder using as little water as possible.
  3. Mix ground horse gram well with the well fermented batter.
  4. We need a semi-thick batter and not a very thick batter. The batter should fall off the ladle easily. So, add a little water if required. Be careful not to add excess.
  5. Give the batter a nice mix as rice semolina would have settled down at the bottom of the vessel. 
  6. Check and adjust salt. The batter is now ready to be steamed.

Steaming options:

1. You can steam horse gram idli batter in jackfruit leaves baskets, they'll then be called kulitha khotto in Konkani.

2. You can steam horse gram idli batter in idli moulds, idli plates and they'll be called horse gram idlis, kulitha idli in Konkani.

3. Or you can steam the batter in a steamer lined with banana leaves like in the image below. They are then called kulitha rononu in Konkani.

P.S: These are pictures of urad dal (idli) batter and not of horse gram idli batter.

Steaming time: Depends on how you steam them.

1. If you're steaming them in idli moulds then 20-25 minutes should be enough.

2. If you are steaming them in jackfruit leaves baskets then 30 minutes should be enough.

3. If you are steaming them as ronon then 45-60 minutes depending on the thickness and size of the ronon.

Serving suggestions:

1. Serve steaming hot horse gram idlis, kulitha khotto or kulitha rononu cut into pieces, with coconut oil on top and with a spicy, red coconut chutney(recipe below).

2. Serve them cold with a pickle or a spicy, red coconut chutney with loads of coconut oil on top and enjoy!

3. Try this! Devour steaming hot or cold horse gram idlis with just coconut oil on top. :-)

Side Note: 

  1. You can even make horse gram idli batter by grinding together soaked urad dal and horse gram (after over night soaking). Mix in rice semolina, keep it aside for half an hour or even steam them without fermentation. Taste does differs without fermentation of the batter. 
  2. Or grind urad dal, mix in semolina, keep it aside for 2 - 4 hours to ferment, mix in freshly ground horse gram and steam them immediately. 
  3. The whole idea is fermented urad dal batter makes these idlis soft, fluffy and amazing in taste. 
  4. And the most important point is to steam the batter, immediately after mixing in ground horse gram. Or else the ground horse gram batter tends to lose it's fluffiness which brings a major difference in taste and texture of these idlis.
  5. To make your job easy, you can grind urad dal, horse gram together, ferment it overnight or not ferment it at all and steam the batter. But that will definitely change the taste and texture of these idlis. Follow the method of preparation mentioned above for best results. :-)
  6. My mom usually does all the grinding, let's the batter fermentat during the day and steams it at night. You then get to enjoy amazing horse gram rononu in the morning, as we love it cold. Or we re-heat it and enjoy them steaming hot.

Note on fermenting the idli batter if you live in a cold region:

Fermentation needs warm temperatures. So, in summer the batter ferments very well and doubles or triples in it's quantity within a few hours. With drop in temperatures you would have to ferment them for longer. 

But in cold places, the batter has to be kept in a warm place for it to ferment. If your oven has light, then turn on the light for a few hours with the batter in the oven. Once the oven is warm, turn off the light and let the batter undergo fermentation.

If your oven does not have a light, then preheat the oven to warm, turn off the oven. Then keep the batter in the oven to ferment.

You would have to experiment and keep a watch to get the right amount of fermented batter depending on the temperature in your place.

Spicy, red coconut chutney recipe: It's made by frying few red chillies with oil for a minute. These red chillies are then ground with grated coconut, salt, tamarind into a smooth paste, diluted a little and is seasoned with asafoetida, curry leaves, dried red chillies and mustard seeds.

Find more Konkani cuisine breakfast recipes here.

Tags: kulitha idli, kulitha ronon, horse gram idlis, Konkani breakfast, Konkani cuisine, Konkani recipe, Konkani food, GSB Konkani recipe, vegan, vegetarian recipe, South Canara Konkani recipe, Konkani cooking, GSB Konkani cuisine, kids breakfast