Thursday, March 31, 2016



This is one of the most popular breakfast items in South India. Idlis (these are flat savoury cakes made of rice and lentils) are considered very healthy as they are made by steaming as distinct from frying etc. Recently we celebrated World Idli Day on March 30 with a postal stamp being released on the occasion, so universally popular has the humble idli become!!

A recent conversation with a friend made me realize that though I have many recipes for different types of idlis such as Mallige Idlis, Poha Idlis and Oats Idlis in this blog, I hadn't posted the basic version of idlis in all these days!!

The secret to making perfect idlis lies in the batter you use. There are two ways in which we can make idli batter. Traditionally, we used parboiled rice or idli rice as it frequently called in the shops in South India. More recently, since perhaps parboiled rice may not be available everywhere and more for convenience/to save time, people make idlis by using idli rava instead of parboiled rice and raw rice.

Today, I share how I learnt to make idlis from my mother. Over the years I have started adding a bit of fenugreek to the urad dal as this helps make a better quality of batter and adds a nice mild aroma of it's own.

Nowadays with time being at a premium mostly for urban folk, ready made idli/dosa batter such as the one made by ID Foods has become immensely popular. I have used this once in awhile and I must say the idlis/dosas have come out pretty well with this batter. If you use the ready made batter, all you need to do is to steam the idlis!!

Prep  Time: 10 hours including time for fermenting the batter
Cook Tme: 10 minutes
Total Time: About 10 hours and 10 minutes

  • Parboiled Rice,(Idli Rice), 2 cups
  • Raw Rice, 1 cup
  • Urad  Dal, ( Black Gram Dal), 1 cup
  • Fenugreek (Methi) Seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, for greasing the idli moulds


Wash and soak the parboiled rice and the raw rice in water, in a vessel, for about 5 hours. Drain the excess water.
In another vessel, wash and soak the urad dal  along with the fenugreek seeds (if you are using them) in water for about 5 hours. Drain the excess water
Grind the soaked rice, in a mixer, to a paste which is more coarse than smooth using the required amount of water. Remove from mixer and pour into a large vessel.
Next, grind the soaked dal and fenugreek seeds to a smooth paste using the required amount of water.
Combine the rice paste and the dal paste together, add salt, and mix thoroughly to form a thick batter
I usually do this mixing using my hand as this helps the fermentation process later
Keep the batter to ferment overnight or for 8-10 hours in a large vessel. The vessel should be large enough as the batter will swell to twice its original volume.
Grease the idli moulds lightly with oil
Boil enough water in the idli cooker or pressure cooker
Pour the fermented batter into the idli moulds evenly and place them in the cooker
If you are using a pressure cooker, make sure that you do not use the weight while steaming the idlis
Steam the idlis for 7-10 minutes then check to see that they are done. Inserting a toothpick should result in its coming out clean if properly done.
Once the idlis are cooked, remove the idli moulds from the cooker, allow it to cool for a minute or two
Using a knife, take out individual idlis from the idli moulds
Serve hot with chutney, of your choice, sambar, or milagai podi

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