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Steamed Indian delicacies

Chef Ankit Mathur works as a Chef Instructor at Culinary Academy of India


Which dish takes over your senses - smell, sight and taste - when you think of ‘steam cooking’? Is it Idlys? Maybe Dhoklas? How about dumplings? Well apart from these famous steamed dishes, there’s plenty more the Indian kitchen utilizes steam cooking for. In fact, steaming is among the most common methods of cooking around the globe. Steaming eliminates the usage of oil and helps retain the natural nutrients in foods. It also preserves the natural color, texture and flavor of the food while maintaining its moisture.

Although steaming is very basic cooking technique, mastery in it does take practice. Steaming works as good alternative to sautéing or deep frying. Steaming techniques are great for making a healthy breakfast, scrumptious lunch and dinner, and mouthwatering sweets and evening snack recipes.



Dal Pitha is popular steamed Bihari preparation made with rice flour. A vegan/gluten free snack, Pithas are generally stuffed and fillings could be either sweet or savory – making them a very popular snack among all age groups. There are various versions of Pithas but traditional Dal Pithas have a spicy lentil filling.



Chakka Appam is popular tea time snack from Kerala. Made with ripe jackfruit, jaggery, coconut and rice flour, all ingredients are combined together to form a dough. This is then flattened, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.


Junnu is sweet dish made from lactating cow’s milk, and can also be made using colostrum milk. It is popular by different name among different region like, “Gunnu” in Kannada, Kharvis” in Marathi. To make Junnu, colostrum milk is mixed with whole milk in the ratio of 1:6 to which jaggery and cardamom powder are added. This mixture is then steam-cooked till it resembles the texture of a pudding.



Modak is popular sweet among Maharashtrians, abundantly prepared during Ganesh Chaturthi. It is made with rice flour and stuffed with a jaggery and coconut mixture. Its unique shape done using a folding technique allows this recipe to stand out among other steam desserts.



Patra is popular tea time snack from Gujarat. There are various versions of this recipe but traditionally it is made with Arbi/Coloccasia leaves layered with gram flour batter, rolled and finally steamed. When cut into pieces, it resemble to green and gold pinwheel.



As name suggest this dish has origination from ‘Indore’ which is made with steamed flattened rice flakes tempered with chilies, cumin and curry leaves. This is topped with fresh coriander, onion, pomegranate, roasted peanuts and boondi. Indori Poha is typically served as a breakfast preparation.


Puttu is breakfast dish popular in the South Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Puttu is made using ground rice which is then rolled into cylinders and stuffed with either a sweet or savory filling. They can also be served alongside gravies, curries, and papadums.



It is popular Gujarati snack made with rice, yoghurt and split black gram and is also popularly known as Gujarati Khatta Dhokla owing to its sour taste. Idra is usually served with sweet and spicy chutney.

Steam cooking in India has been in practice for over a thousand years. In fact, this technique of cooking is so popular it even finds its mentions in ancient Indian literature as ‘BHAPA’. Steam cooking has played a major role in shaping the culinary landscape of South India as rice is part of the staple diet and can be steamed in various styles. Even in North steam cooking was a very prevalent cooking method among ‘Khansamas (royal cooks in the courts of the Mughals) for the preparation of various flavored pulaos and biryanis. Though steaming is widely used cooking method around the globe, the combination of techniques, spices, and ingredients give Indian steamed food a definitive, flavorful edge among different steamed cuisines.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 BrandCai


Arun Bandi on November 03, 2020:

Most Healthiest method of cooking is STEAMONG. Todar Idli is considered as the worlds most accepted Breakfast item .


Culinary Student

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