Idli (South Indian steamed Rice Cake)

Amrita Iyer
Amrita Iyer|
Last updated on Jan 9th
Idli is a very nutritious and tasty South Indian rice cake. It is steamed which gives it additional softness and tastes amazing with any Sambar, Coconut Chutney, Chana Chutney or Molagapodi (a powder of dried red chilies, sesame seeds, lentils and salt). Basically parboiled rice or termed “Sela Chawal” in the local markets was used to make this lovely snack but nowadays a special kind of “Idli Rice” is available which has all the properties to make soft Idlis. Apart from this Urad Dal (White lentils) are used and they ferment the batter.
  • Prep Time0Minutes
  • Cooking Time45Minutes
  • Serves4people

Recipe Ingredients

  • 3 cups of Idli Rice If you get Idli Rice its fine to use 2 cups of Parboiled Rice – Sela Chawal and 1 cup of any normal small-grained rice like Mansoori Kolam or Shakkar Chini or just 3 cups of the aforementioned normal rice)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp Urad Dal
  • 1/2 tbsp Fenugreek Seeds(Methi Dana) – optional If you live in hot and humid climates the methi dana is not required.The Urad Dal is sufficient for fermenting and lending the right taste to the batter)
  • 2 tsp salt to make 16 Idlis

Recipe Preparation

  1. Thoroughly wash and soak the rice along with fenugreek seeds (if you are using) for 12-14 hours (filtered/boiled and cooled water is recommended).
  2. Following day keep an update on your cell phone and wash and soak the Urad Dal for 3 hours prior to the fourteenth hour.
  3. Grind according to the type of the gadget you have,
  4. If you are using a wet grinder like Preethi or Butterfly, set the stones in the right position and add a cup of the soaked rice and fenugreek seeds.
  5. Run and check if the stones are working properly, else fix the screws as possible to get perfectly smooth batter.
  6. Start grinding (If you are using the grinder for the first time, then refer manual for further instructions).
  7. Grind the rice to semi fine first and then make granular paste by adding nearly ½ cup of water.
  8. After the required consistency is achieved, transfer the contents in a large bowl and add urad dal.
  9. Grind till it turns smooth. The consistency should be buttery. You can add ¼ - ½ cup of water if required.
  10. Mix this urad dal mixture with rice mixture and set aside.
  11. If you are using mixer grinder, then use the wet grinding jar (refer the provided manual for further assistance).
  12. Start by grinding rice and fenugreek seeds. Grind till semi fine, add ½ cup water and grind till little granular.
  13. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Now grind urad dal till smooth paste by adding ¼ -½ cup of water.
  14. Combine rice and urad dal mixture and set aside.
  15. Whisk till rice and urad dal mixtures combine together. Leave this to ferment for, 12-14 hours in oven, on low temperature, if you stay in cold regions.
  16. 8-10 hours if you stay in warm regions 6-8 hours if you stay in hot and humid regions
  17. Following day whisk the batter and use ½ of the batter to make 16 Idlis. To this add salt and combine well.
  18. Using a silicon brush gently grease the idli plates with sesame or any cooking oil. Heat enough water in Idli steamer or pressure cooker (without vent weight).
  19. Using a ladle fill in the molds with batter upto ¾ th of its capacity. Steam on medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
  20. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool. Open the lid and using a run a spoon or knife gently on the edges and scoop out the idli’s. They should come neatly.
  21. Serve hot with sambar or chutney or molagapodi soaked in oil.
My Tip: In hot and humid climates,the batter takes approximately 7-8 hours and lesser in temperatures over 42 degrees. But in cold regions where the batter does not ferment, there are 2 steps to it: 1. Adding 1 tbsp of Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Dana) to the rice while soaking it. 2. Keeping the batter on the lowest heat in an oven overnight to speed up the fermentation process. Investments to make for Idli and other South Indian recipes that are made with batter: 1. A wet grinder (Brands – Butterfly, Prestige, Preethi) or a very good Mixer Grinder(I have Morphy Richards). 2. A large glass/plastic bowl to ferment the batter in with preferably a cover. 3. A set of steel Idli Plates which fit inside a Pressure Cooker/Steamer. NOTE 1- There is a variety of rice available known as Idli Rice which is especially suited for making Idlis. This is available with all Kirana and departmental stores. Just ask the shopkeeper for the same. In metro cities it can even be ordered online. NOTE 2 – I have used the standard cups from the measuring cup sets available in the market. 3.A set of steel Idli Plates which fit inside a Pressure Cooker/Steamer. NOTE 1- There is a variety of rice available known as Idli Rice which is especially suited for making Idlis.This is available with all Kirana and departmental stores.Just ask the shopkeeper for the same.In metro cities it can even be ordered online. NOTE 2 – I have used the standard cups from the measuring cup sets available in the market.