Idli is one of the most healthiest and popular South Indian breakfast dish.

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idli recipy

These are soft, light, fluffy steamed round cake made with a ground, fermented rice and lentil batter. Here I share my foolproof recipe with video and step-by-step photos that will help you in making the best idli. This Idli recipe is one of the earliest recipe from the blog which has been tried and tested with great results by many of our readers. 

What is Idli made of

Idli is a soft, pillowy steamed savory cake made from rice and lentil batter. The lentils used in making idli are urad dal (black gram). Idli is a traditional breakfast made in every South Indian household including mine. Idli is popular not only in the whole of India but outside India too

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idli chatni I8

Ways to make Soft Idli

Firstly there are two basic ways you can make idli with the traditional method of soaking the ingredients, grinding them to a batter and fermenting.

Of course there are many variations you can do with the basic batter like adding spices, herbs, veggies etc but the basic, simple fermented batter is made with rice or idli rava and urad dal.

  1. With Idli Rice: Traditionally idli rice and urad dal are used to make the idli batter. Idli rice is parboiled rice and used specifically for making idli and dosa. This recipe post shares the method of making idli with idli rice and regular white rice.

  2. You can even make idli with short-grained rice. My mom makes one of the best idli with parmal rice. At times I also make idli with the traditional method of using only idli rice.

    Urad dal is also known as black gram, urad bean and black matpe bean. With husks these lentils look black due to their black husks. With the husks removed they have creamish ivory color and are also called as white lentils.

    The urad dal that is used is the husked whole urad dal preferably unpolished. You can even use husked split urad dal.
  3. With Idli Rava: A second easier way is to use idli rava with urad dal. Idli rava is coarsely ground idli rice and is easily available in shops and online.
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  1. advantage of grinding in a stone grinder is that the urad dal batter gets ground really well and thus the idli batter ferments also well.

    The amount of water to be added in a stone-grinder is more than what is added in a mixer-grinder.

    For ½ cup soaked urad dal, you can add about 1 cup water. Add water in parts while grinding urad dal. For 2 cups of soaked rice, add about 1.5 to 2 cups of water.
  2. Mixer-grinder: The lentils also grind well in a mixer-grinder or heavy duty blender like Vitamix. For smaller quantities, a mixer-grinder or blender works like a charm.

    Everyone does not have a stone grinder. So I have shared the detailed method on how to grind the batter in a mixer-grinder with plenty of tips and suggestions in the step-by-step guide below

    I have both a stone grinder and a mixer grinder. For smaller quantities, I use the mixie for grinding and for larger quantities I use the stone grinde
  3. Fermentation: Both the ground lentil batter and rice batter are mixed thoroughly. Then the batter is kept to ferment overnight or for 8 to 9 hours or more till the batter doubles or triples in volume having a pleasant sour aroma. The fermentation largely depends upon the temperature and climate. A warm temperature is conducive for a good fermentation in the batter.
  4. Steaming: Special pans are used to steam the idli. You can buy these pans online. This idli pan is brushed or greased with some oil. The batter is poured in the pan and then steamed.
  5. Steaming time: The steaming time varies from 12 to 15 minutes. Idli should never be oversteamed as then they become dry and dense
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What to serve with Idli

  1. Idli is served with coconut chutney and sambar. Idli is dunked in sambar and eaten. There are quite a number of both sambar and coconut chutney varieties that one can make to go with idli. You can also idli with onion chutney, tomato chutney, peanut chutney and ginger chutney.
  2. Idli is also served with idli podi or gun powder. Idli podi is a condiment powder made with lentils and spices. If you do not have time to make sambar, then you can just serve idli with coconut chutney and idli podi. Idli can also be served with curd which has been spiced and tempered.

Variations with Idli Batter

There are many possible variations you can do with a basic idli batter. You can add lentils like moong dal and make moong dal idli.

Even millets, flattened rice (poha) can be added to the batter. Oats can also be added. I have shared  Experiment with proportions and then decide on the one which gives you the best idli in terms of texture and taste.


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  • ▢1 cup regular rice + 1 cup parboiled rice or 2 cups idli rice or 2 cups parboiled rice
  • ▢½ cup whole or split urad dal – 120 grams whole or split urad dal (husked black gram)
  • ▢¼ cup thick poha – 20 grams (flattened rice)
  • ▢¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
  • ▢2 cups water – for soaking rice
  • ▢1 cup water – for soaking urad dal
  • ▢½ cup water – for grinding urad dal or add as required
  • ▢¾ to 1 cup water – for grinding rice or add as required
  • ▢1 teaspoon rock salt (edible and food grade) or sea salt
  • ▢oil – as required to apply to the idli moulds
  • ▢2 to 2.5 cups water – for steaming idli


Soaking Rice And Lentils

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Idli making
  • Pick and rinse both the regular rice and parboiled rice.
  • Rinse the poha and add to the rice.
  • Add water. Mix well. Cover and keep the rice + poha to soak for 4 to 5 hours.
  • In a separate bowl, rinse the urad dal and methi seeds a couple of times.
  • Soak the urad dal with methi seeds separately in water for 4 to 5 hours.

Making Idli Batter

  • Drain the soaked urad dal. Reserve the water.
  • Grind the urad dal, methi seed with ¼ cup of the reserved water for some seconds. Then add remaining ¼ cup water. Grind till you get a smooth and fluffy batter.
  • Remove the urad dal batter in a bowl and keep aside.
  • Grind the rice in batches to make a smooth batter.
  • Mix both the batters together in a large bowl or pan. Add salt and mix well.
  • Cover and let the batter ferment for 8 to 9 hours or more if required.
  • After the fermentation process is over, the idli batter will become double in size and rise.

Steaming Idli

  • Grease the idli moulds.
  • Pour the batter in the moulds and steam the idli in a pressure cooker or steamer.
  • If using pressure cooker remove the vent weight (whistle).
  • Steam for 12 to 15 mins or until the idli is done.
  • Serve the steaming hot idli with coconut chutney and sambar.
  • Remaining batter can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days
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