Understanding the Calories in Idli: A Nutritional Overview

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Idli is a famous South Indian food known for being tasty and healthy. It’s made from rice and a type of bean called urad dal. 

People who watch what they eat, like idli because it doesn’t have a lot of calories. In this article, we’re going to look at how many calories are in idli. 

We’ll also talk about different kinds of idli, like Rava and Oats idli and other variations of this dish. 

Calories in Different servings of Breakfast with Idlis

ServingCalories (Approximate)
1 Idli39 calories
2 Idlis78 calories
3 Idlis117 calories
Idli with Sambar (1 serving)160 calories
Idli with Chutney (1 serving)90 calories
2 Idlis and 1 Vada250 calories

Can Idlis be eaten during Weight Loss?

Yes, idlis can be included in a weight loss diet. They are low in calories, contain moderate amounts of protein, and are steamed, not fried, making them a healthier choice. However, portion control and balance with other nutrients in your diet are important for effective weight loss.

Can diabetics eat Idli ?

Diabetics can eat idli, but with some considerations regarding portion size and frequency. The glycemic index (GI) of idli can be a concern, as it is typically made from white rice and urad dal, both of which can cause blood sugar levels to rise.

1. Glycemic Index: The GI of idli is generally considered medium to high, which means it can cause a quicker rise in blood sugar levels. This is especially true for idlis made from white rice. The fermentation process of the batter may slightly improve the GI, but it’s still important to be cautious.

2. Portion Control: Diabetics should pay attention to the number of idlis consumed in one sitting. Eating idlis in moderation, as part of a balanced meal that includes fiber and protein, can help mitigate blood sugar spikes.

3. Healthier Alternatives: To make idli more diabetic-friendly, one can use whole grains like brown rice or oats, which have a lower GI and higher fiber content. Adding vegetables to the idli batter can also increase its nutritional value and fiber content.

4. Accompaniments: Choosing healthier accompaniments like sambar (rich in vegetables) and high-fiber chutneys can also help balance the meal.

It’s always advisable for diabetics to monitor their blood sugar levels after eating new foods and consult with a healthcare provider or a dietitian to tailor their diet according to their individual health needs.

Comprehensive List of Calories in different varieties of idli

Basic Idli and Variations

Serving SizeCalories (Approximate)
1 Idli 39 calories
2 Idlis 78 calories
3 Idlis 117 calories
4 Idlis156 calories
5 Idlis 195 calories
6 Idlis 234 calories
8 Idlis 312 calories
9 Idlis 351 calories
10 Idlis390 calories
Small Idli (each)28 calories
Big Idli (1)58 calories
Big Idli (2)116 calories
Mini Idli (4-6 idlis)120 calories
Homemade Idli (1)35 calories

Idli with Accompaniments

Serving SizeCalories (Approximate)
Idli with Sambar (1 idli)80 calories
Idli with Sambar (2 idlis)160 calories
Idli with Sambar (3 idlis)240 calories
Idli with Sambar (4 idlis)320 calories
Idli with Sambar (5 idlis)400 calories
Idli with Sambar (6 idlis)480 calories
One Plate Idli Sambar200 calories
Idli with Chutney (1 idli)45 calories
Idli with Chutney (2 idlis)90 calories
Idli with Chutney (4 idlis)180 calories
Idli with Sambar and Chutney (1 idli)90 calories
Idli with Sambar and Chutney (2 idlis)180 calories
Idli with Sambar and Chutney (4 idlis)360 calories
One Plate Idli with Sambar and Chutney250 calories
Calories in idli vada sambhar

Specialty Idlis

Serving SizeCalories (Approximate)
Rava Idli (1)45 calories
Rava Idli (4)180 calories
Suji Idli39 calories
Idli Rava35 calories
Thatte Idli70 calories
Ragi Idli35 calories
Oats Idli30 calories
MTR Rava Idli45 calories
Vegetable Idli45 calories
Bajra Idli40 calories
Jowar Idli38 calories
Millet Idli37 calories
Pepper Idli40 calories
Rice Idli (2 idlis)78 calories
Oats Rava Idli32 calories
Tadka Idli50 calories
Moong Dal Idli42 calories
Idli Vada (1 idli + 1 vada)125 calories
Idli Batter (100g)120 calories
Idli Fry150 calories
Idli Chaat200 calories
Chilli Idli220 calories
Ghee Idli100 calories

How are Idlis Prepared?

Idlis are prepared by the Fermentation process. 

Fermentation in idli is a biological process that involves the action of microorganisms to bring about desirable changes in the food’s properties.

Let’s see how Fermentation works:

Batter Composition: Idli is made from a batter consisting of ground rice and urad dal (black lentils). These ingredients are soaked, ground, and then mixed together.

Natural Microbial Inoculation: The batter does not require any artificial fermenting agents. The fermentation occurs due to natural microbes present in the ingredients and the environment. These include various strains of yeast and bacteria.

Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) Dominance: The predominant microbes in idli fermentation are lactic acid bacteria (LAB), particularly from the genera Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Streptococcus. These bacteria ferment the sugars present in rice and dal, producing lactic acid.

Yeast Activity: Yeasts, especially from the genera Candida and Saccharomyces, are also involved. They contribute to the fermentation by producing carbon dioxide, which leavens the batter, giving idli its characteristic spongy texture.

Fermentation Environment: The process typically occurs at room temperature, ranging from 8 to 24 hours, depending on the climate. Warmer temperatures accelerate fermentation.

  • Changes in Batter: During fermentation, the batter undergoes several changes:
  • Acidification: The production of lactic acid lowers the pH, creating a mildly sour taste.
  • Leavening: Carbon dioxide production causes the batter to rise and become fluffy.
  • Nutritional Enhancement: Fermentation reduces anti-nutritional factors and enhances the bioavailability of nutrients like B-vitamins.
  • Digestibility: Fermented batter is easier to digest than the raw ingredients.

End Result: After fermentation, the idli batter is steamed to cook the idlis, which are soft, spongy, and have a slightly sour flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which is better chapati or idli?

  • Nutrition: Chapati, typically made from whole wheat, is high in fiber and protein, and has a lower glycemic index than idli made from white rice. Idli, however, is steamed and lower in calories and fat.
  • Digestion: Idli is lighter and easier to digest due to its steamed preparation, making it a good option for people with digestive issues.
  • Suitability for Diets: Chapati might be a better option for those on a low-calorie or diabetic diet, while idli can be a suitable choice for those looking for lighter, easily digestible foods.

Both chapati and idli can be part of a healthy diet; the choice depends on individual health goals and dietary preferences.

2. Is idli full of carbohydrates?

Idli is primarily a source of carbohydrates, as its main ingredients are rice and urad dal. However, it is not “full” of carbohydrates; it also provides protein and is low in fat. The fermentation process also adds nutritional value.

3. Which is healthier poha or idli?

  • Nutritional Content: Poha, made from flattened rice, is rich in iron and carbohydrates. Idli is also carbohydrate-rich but has the advantage of being steamed.
  • Calorie Content: Idli is generally lower in calories compared to poha, especially if poha is prepared with added nuts, seeds, and fats.
  • Digestibility and Glycemic Index: Idli is easier to digest due to its steamed preparation. Poha has a moderate glycemic index, similar to idli.

Both are healthy when prepared with minimal oil and can be part of a balanced diet. The choice depends on individual health goals and dietary needs.

4. Is idli a junk food?

No, idli is not considered junk food. It is a nutritious, steamed food item, low in calories and fat. It provides a good balance of carbohydrates and protein, especially when served with sambhar and chutney.

 Unlike typical junk foods, idli is not processed or high in unhealthy fats and sugars.

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