Idli Upma| Leftover Idli Usili

Idli Upma is a delicious breakfast dish made using idlis, quite a common sight in a South Indian household. Whenever there are idlis left over, they are usually crumbled up and stir-fried along with a few spices and condiments – that’s Idli Upma, also known as Idli Usili, for you. Mind you, it’s quite a lovely thing to have!

Idlis are considered to be among the healthiest foods ever, and they have thousands of fans the world over. I am not a huge idli lover, though – I mean, I do eat idlis if I don’t have a choice, but that’s about it. It is not my first preference of food; it never has been. πŸ™‚ (Yes, Tamilians who aren’t ardent lovers of idlis do exist!). If faced with the prospect of having to make idlis, I would rather convert them into Idli Upma or this delectable Idli Masala with loads of veggies.

Idli Upma or Idli Usili

#LeftoverKaMakeover At Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is brought to you in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. The theme this week is #LeftoverKaMakeover, wherein participants are sharing ways to give a new avatar to leftover food. I couldn’t think of anything better than this Idli Upma to fit the theme.

Poonam, talented chef and the author of Annapurna, was the one who suggested the theme for this Monday. Her blog is a treasure trove of traditional Maharashtrian recipes, interesting recipes from around the world, and some really beautiful healthy bakes. Her Rajma Kebabs (made from leftover Rajma Masala) and Gulgule (sweet fritters made using sugar syrup leftover after making Rasgulla or Gulab Jamun) are absolutely brilliant! So is her Chilli Paratha, made from leftover parathas or chapatis.

How to make Idli Upma| Leftover Idli Usili

Idli Upma or Idli Usili has several variations, with different families making it in slightly different ways. Here, I have shared the way we make it in our family, with finely chopped onions, some home-made Dosa Milagai Podi (often also referred to as ‘gunpowder’) and a bit of jaggery.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

1. 8-10 leftover idlis
2. 1 large onion

3. 3-4 green chillies

4. 2 sprigs of curry leaves

5. 1/2 tablespoon oil

6. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

7. 2 pinches of asafoetida

8. Salt to taste

9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

10. 2 tablespoons Dosa Milagai Podi or to taste

11. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery or to taste (optional)

12. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)

13. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander


Top left: Step 1, Top right and centre left: Step 2, Centre right: Step 3, Bottom left and right: Step 4

1. Peel the onion and chop finely. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.

2. Take the leftover idlis in a large bowl. Crumble them up nicely.

3. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Add the asafoetida, slit green chillies and curry leaves. Let these ingredients stay in for a few seconds.

4. Add the chopped onion to the pan at this stage. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute on medium flame till the onions are cooked and start browning.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Centre left and right: Steps 7 and 8, Bottom left: Step 9, Bottom right: Idli Upma, ready and served hot

5. Add the crumbled idlis to the pan at this stage. Turn the flame down to low-medium.

6. Add in salt to taste, turmeric powder and red chilli powder (if using).

7. Add in the Dosa Milagai Podi and jaggery powder (if using). Mix well.

8. Stirring intermittently, let everything cook together at low-medium flame for about 2 minutes. Switch off gas.

9. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Idli Upma is ready. Serve hot, on its own or with a simple coconut chutney.

Is this Idli Upma vegan and gluten-free?

The above recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. It is not, however, gluten-free because of the use of asafoetida. The Dosa Milagai Podi I have used here also contains asafoetida. Most commercial Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour to a greater or lesser extent and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. If you want to make the Idli Upma gluten-free, skip the asafoetida used in the tempering and use a gluten-free version of Dosa Milagai Podi.

Tips & Tricks

1. Leftover idlis that are a day old are best for making this Usili, as opposed to fresh ones. Cold, leftover idlis that have been at room temperature for at least 8-10 hours are easier to crumble than fresh ones, the crumbs are more even and the Usili tastes better. In case you want to use idlis cooked on the same day , keep them in the fridge for a couple of hours before starting to make the Usili. They will crumble more readily.

2. I have used home-made idlis here, which are typically smaller than those available in a restaurant. If you are using restaurant-bought idlis, you might want to use a couple less than the quantity suggested in the above recipe.

3. Be careful while adding the salt. The idlis contain some salt already, as does the Dosa Milagai Podi I have used here.

4. I have used home-made Dosa Milagai Podi here. You may use a store-bought version instead, too.

5. The home-made Dosa Milagai Podi I use is moderately hot and contains some amount of jaggery. So, I use some red chilli powder to balance the heat – if the Dosa Milagai Podi you are using is spicy enough, you may do away with the red chilli powder completely. Similarly, using the jaggery powder is optional too.

6. I prefer using sesame oil (‘nalla ennai‘ in Tamil) to make this leftover Idli Usili. However, if you don’t have it, you may use any other oil of your preference.

7. My mom adds a dash of lemon juice to this Idli Upma, once it is ready and the gas has been switched off. I mostly skip this bit.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

10 thoughts on “Idli Upma| Leftover Idli Usili

  1. Your version of idli upma with jaggery powder, and dosa milage podi sounds absolutely flavorful Proya. Would love giving it a try.


  2. You too ? I also don’t like idlis much but love idli upma . Idli upma with dosa milagapudi is just too good to say No and I must say I also follow the same recipe sans the onion !!


  3. Priya even I am not a idli fan, but idli Upma is ok for me. Even I make something similar except jaggery powder. So nutritious and delicious breakfast . I like it a little
    Spicy .


  4. Idli upma is one of my favourite breakfast, loved the way you added jaggery. My mom use to prepare this for evening snack sometimes for lunch box also.


  5. It brings back a lot of memories and anytime I would like to have this. Looks so delicious and love your touch of using jaggery. Will try next time when I am making it.


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