Idli (Steamed Rice Cakes)

                     Indian steamed rice cakes or Idli is a renowned dish familiar to most of us, its white colour and fluffy texture makes it everyone s favourite dish. In South India, Idli is the daily breakfast in most of the household and people like me can survive on idli alone lifelong 🙂 Trust Me! its so hot and yummy that you will fall in love with it every time you eat it. The typical method for making idli batter is by using the stone grinder or wet grinder but unfortunately for people who live outside India, its hard to have a wet grinder so we use a blender or a mixie to make the batter.

                       Initially I wasn’t successful in making soft idli, there were lots of disasters like the idli turning out very hard or idli would end up yellow and mushy. After lots of redo and variations, I ended up with this recipe which yields super soft and fluffy idlis. I have highlighted some of the important points to be kept in mind in my “notes” section below while making idli. Lets get started with the recipe.


Whole white Urad Dhal – 1 cup

Idli rava – 2 ½ cup

Poha –  ½  cup

Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp

Salt – To taste


For batter:

  1. Soak the urad dhal with fenugreek seeds for 6 hours.

  2. Soak the idli rava separately for 4 hours. Poha needs just few minutes of soaking, it becomes soft.

  3. Now for the grinding process, Rinse out the urad dhal once and drain the water completely. (Refer notes)

  4. Add the urad dhal to a mixer or a blender, grind into a very smooth batter. Use cold water for grinding and grind at regular intervals, this prevents the motor from heating up which in turn makes the batter hot which hinders the softness of the idli.

  5. Squeeze out the water from the idli rava completely, you need some muscle power 🙂 here to extract as much water as possible.

  6. Take about a handful of idli rava along with the poha and grind into a smooth paste. You need to take just a handful and not the entire idli rava.

  7. Mix this paste to the remaining idli rava and urad dhal batter and fold them all together by adding some salt.

  8. Use your hands to mix them nicely for atleast 5 mins, the mild warmth of our hands gets transferred to the batter which aids in the fermentation process.

  9. Store this batter in a container and let it ferment overnight.

  10. After fermentation, the batter would rise nicely and small pores would have formed inside the batter.

  11. Mix the batter well and Refrigerate it. This can be used up to 5 days.

Idli pot with plates

Idli Pot

Idli Pot

For Idli:

  1. Use idli cooker or idli pot for making idlis(shown above).

  2. Oil the idli moulds with oil or place a wet muslin cloth over the moulds and pour the batter into the moulds. Fill up to three fourth of the mould as the idli puff s up once it gets cooked.

  3. Pour enough water inside the idli pot and place the plates above it.

  4. Allow it to steam cook for 10 mins and switch off the stove.

  5. Let it sit for 5 mins, then remove the plates and allow  it to cool for 5 mins.

  6. Sprinkle some water over the idli plates and use a wet spoon to scoop the idlis from the mould.

  7. I use a white cloth to cover my idli plates and pour the batter over the cloth and steam it, I find that this method yields very soft and fluffy idlis. The idlis do not stick to the plates and its easy to clean the plates as well.

  8. Serve the idlis hot with sambhar ,coconut chutney and idli podi.


  • Quality of urad dhal and idli rava plays a major role to get nice white idlis, so ensure that you use good variety of dhal and rava.

  • Do not wash urad dhal too much, most of the nutrients gets lost by over washing it so just wash it once and grind it.

  • Adding fenugreek seeds and poha enhances the idli texture and yields very soft idlis.

  • In cold countries, fermentation doesn’t happen easily in that case, preheat the oven to 200 degrees and switch off the oven, place the batter inside and ferment it overnight.


12 thoughts on “Idli (Steamed Rice Cakes)

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    2. OIL

    • Hi Manish, Thanks for visiting my blog. The other options which can be used instead of oil/cloth is ghee or butter. If not the idli ‘s will stick to the mould. Please let me know if this helps.

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