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 had some extra idli batter remaining, she usually ground up some horse gram and added it to the idli batter to make these horse gram idlis. Added variety to our breakfasts.

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

Traditionally, horse gram idlis are served with spicy coconut chutneys or 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. 

Make an idli batter with urad dal: rice rava in the ratio 1:2 and add horse gram in equal amounts of urad dal used. So it would be urad dal : horse gram : rice rava in the ratio 1:1:4

Make a batter with horse gram:urad dal in the ratio 1:1 by grinding them together. Add rice rava in the ratio 1:1:4.


  • 3/4 cup urad dal (1 part)
  • 3/4 cup horse gram (equal part)
  • 3 cups of rice semolina (idli rava, rice rava) (twice of both of them together)
  • 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:

There are 3 ways you can make these idlis:

1. Make an idli batter the previous evening - urad:rice rava in the ratio 1:2. Let it ferment over night, add ground horse gram to it in the morning & immediately steam the batter to make idlis. 

2. Grind soaked urad dal, horse gram in the morning, mix in rice rava. Steam the batter immediately. 

3. Do the whole process of grinding & steaming the previous evening or night like mom would to make rononu. So breakfast is ready for next morning. I do this too for a care free breakfast the next morning. We usually follow this method. In this case we soak horse gram & urad dal in the morning to be ground in the evening. We love to eat it while it's cold in the morning. Or we re-heat it and enjoy them hot.

How to prep:

1. You can grind urad dal & horse gram together in a wet grinder directly. But horse gram's stubborn peels stays intact if ground directly in a wet grinder.

2. So like mom does it's better to grind horse gram & urad dal in a mixer first & then grind them in a wet grinder for a perfect smooth batter & perfect horse gram idlis. Tinyyy pieces of horse gram peel might remain in the batter & that's ok.

3. Mom & I also grind urad dal & horse gram separately in a wet grinder if we are also making idli batter. We first grind urad dal then grind horse gram in the same grinder. Mix horse gram with a part of urad dal batter to make horse gram idlis. 

Wet grinder? Why not mixie???

1. Wet grinder gets you a veryyyyy smoooooth batter.

2. Wet grinder most importantly gets the batter superrrrr fluffyyyyy for fluffy, soft soft idlis. Horse gram & urad dal ground in mixer doesn't get fluffy enough & you end up getting dense idlis.

Prep to make horse gram idlis:

  1. Soak horse gram over night using enough water. Minimum 6 hours of soaking. 
  2. Soak urad dal for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  3. After soaking, wash them well and drain all the water out. 
  4. Grind urad dal & horse gram in a mixer using as much water as needed to make a paste (1 - 1.5 cups of water). Need not a be fine paste as we'll grind it further in a wet grinder.
  5. Transfer the ground paste into a wet grinder for a super smooth, fluffy batter. Do not add excess water. Use just as much as needed to wash the mixer.
  6. Grind for 15-20 minutes, transfer the ground batter into a big vessel. Do not add extra water. We need a very thick batter. As the batter gets ground it rises & gets super smooth. If few pieces of horse gram peel remains it's ok. 
  7. Wash rice semolina once using water, drain all the water, add rava to the ground batter. This washing step is important so that rice rava don't form clumps in the batter. Once they get wet they mix well with the batter unlike while dry they forms clumps in the batter.
  8. Add salt and mix well. 
  9. Keep the batter closed aside and allow it to ferment for just 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile get the water in the steamer rolling hot. 
  10. During this time rice rava gets soaked, batter ferments a little.
  11. By the time it's 25 minutes from grinding please put them for steaming, in idli plates or moulds or banana leaves lined steamers etc.
  12. All of the batter should be steaming by 25 minutes from grinding. Why? Otherwise, horsegram settles, lessens it's fluff & forms a nice smooth layer at bottom of the vessel on steaming. It's not too pleasant to eat.
  13. How long they're to be steamed? Read below.

You can add ground horse gram to overnight fermented idli batter made with urad dal:rice rava in the ratio 1:2. (fermented for a minimum of 7-8 hours on hot days and 8-10 hours during winter. If you live in a cold region look for tips to ferment the batter below.) 

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

  1. Wash over night soaked horse gram (min 6 hours), 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. Be careful not to add excess water.
  5. Take rice rava twice the amount of horse gram, wash it like mentioned above in step 7. Add it to the batter.
  6. Give the batter a nice mix as rice semolina could have settled down at the bottom of the vessel. 
  7. Check and adjust salt. The batter is now ready to be steamed. Steam immediately.

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 cups/plates then 15-20 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 (one whole cake) in banana leaf lined steamer then 45-60 minutes depending on the thickness and volume of the ronon.

4. If you're steaming them in idli moulds then 25-30 minutes depending on the diameter & amount of batter you have poured into idli moulds.

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. My fav. :-)

4. Garlic is nicely fried in oil & the oil along with garlic is used to idlis with.

5. Horse gram saaru - kulitha saaru tastes divine with kulitha ronon. 

Side Note: 

  1. You can 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. 
  2. The whole idea is fermented urad dal batter makes these idlis soft, fluffy and amazing in taste. 
  3. 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.

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 few seconds. 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.

Watch it's making here:


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