Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Idli !

This is a much awaited post for many people who have asked me tips for soft and spongy idlis. So for all the idli lovers out there (especially who live outside India in cold countries) , this post is for you.
I grew up eating idlis almost everyday, I still love the hot idlis mom makes with the spicy tomato chutney. I never know how many Idlis I hog. :) 
Idli is a very common affair in any south Indian household and to be specific in Tamilnadu. Everyone has a separate grinder for this, which I know is difficult to get abroad. Now people out there who makes Idlis so easily in hot temperatures may laugh at this post thinking if even a post is needed for an easy peasy recipe like Idli. But I Know and can understand the pain and the cravings for this soft and fluffy Idlis for people living in cold countries. 
When I moved to London, making Idli was like a nightmare for me. I don't like eating outside either as it never matches the taste and texture of homemade Idlis. Without having a mixie initially, I survived for few months without them. And then got a mixie, but my batter didnt rise even a centimetre.. :(. The rice was the problem, couldnt get idli rice or sona masoori in local stores. And then the temperature , the main villian. After all this hurdles, and experimenting a couple of times, now I enjoy super soft spongy and fluffy Idlis at home.
If you are not patient enough to grind and ferment and wait till the next day, here are some instant idli recipes for you,
Instant Oats Idli
Instant Wheat Rava Idli
Insant Besan Idli
Instant Rava/Suji Idli
Okay.. enough of my Idli stories.. Now to the recipe.. 
And.. Do not forget to read the points in NOTES section below.


  • 2 cups Rice (Raw Rice / Sona masoori / Ponni )
  • 2 cups Idli Rice
  • 1 cup whole Urad Dal (skinless)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp Fenugreek Seeds 
  • Salt (preferably Rock salt)


  • Soak the urad dal (with fenugreek seeds) and the rice separately for 4 - 5 hours.

  •  Grind the Urad dal adding little water at a time to a smooth and fluffy batter.

  •  then grind the rice adding water to a smooth batter.
  • Add the ground rice batter to the urad dal, add salt and mix well.

  •  Mix well so that the rice and urad dal gets incorporated well together. Use a spatula to do this. You can do it with hand as well.

  •  Close the vessel with lid and place it in front of a heater. 
  • The second picture is after 10 hours, you can see the batter has risen well.

  •  Now this is after 12 hours, it has already reached the rim of the vessel. 
  • I had to shift some batter to another vessel allowing it to rise further without overflowing down.
  • The batter should be airy and fluffy like shown in second pic indicating ti has fermented well.
  • It is time to place the batter in the fridge, otherwise it will be over fermented.

  •  When you want to make idlis, remove the batter from the fridge, and keep outside for 10 minutes and give a good mix.

  •  Pour in the greased idli moulds and steam for 10 - 12 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
  • My idli plates are non stick, so I haven't greased them with oil.
  • Do not remove the idlis immediately, give them 4 - 5 minutes and then remove with a spoon. 


  • Instead of mixing normal rice and idli rice, you can make idlis only with idli rice too. 
  • Some people add idli rava or poha etc claiming only then they get soft idlis which is absolutely untrue. in most of the households in Tamilnadu we never use any of those. Its just rice and lentil with fenugreek. 
  • There are different types of Urad dal, use only whole skinless Urad dal. The quality of urad dal makes a great difference in the batter.
  • Always add salt immediately after grinding the batter, as salt aids in fermentation. Olden days they use only rock salt in the batter and prefer mixing by hand as it is believed mixing by hand also helps in fermentation.
  • We used to have grinders at home which is specific for grinding the Idli/dosa batter. The urad dal gets ground so well that its increased 2 to 3 times its volume. You can expect that with a normal mixie, but make sure you grind it very soft and fluffy.
  • And do not forget the fenugreek seeds. They help a lot in fermenting the batter and makes the idli soft.
  • Always grind the dal and rice separately. As dal has to be very very smooth and increase in volume when grinding.
  • Also, you can use warm filtered water to grind the dal and rice. 
  • There is no tips needed to ferment the batter if you are in India. But in cold places fermenting the batter is a challenge to most of the people.My batter has fermented and rised well in -1 deg Celsius.
  • Keeping in a warm place helps fermenting. It can be oven or near heater. But I personally prefer heater as there is heat continuously whole night. 
  • If you are keeping in oven, preheat the oven for 200 deg C for 10 minutes and switch off oven. and then place the batter after 5 minutes in the oven and leave it whole night. If you have light in your oven, then leave the lights ON. It will help maintain some warmness inside the oven.
  • I just keep the vessel right in front of the heater vent for maximum 12 hours. And by the time it should be fermented.
  • Enjoy your hot idlis with sambar or any chutney of your choice. 
  • We generally serve with this Tiffin Sambar , Onion Tomato ChutneySpicy Tomato Chutney or simple and delicious fresh Coconut Chutney.

With Love,


  1. can we use rice flour instead of rice?

    1. Ruchi , yeah you can try mixing rice flour to ground urad dal.. But Cant promise the soft and fluffiness like the ones with ground rice. ANyways I havent tried personally, will try this weekend and let you know dear. :)