Idli recipe - South Indian Recipe

 Breakfast or snack recipe

This idli recipe is a South Indian steamed breakfast or snack  recipe. It is easy to make.

Idli is healthy as it is a steamed preparation. The addition of urad dal(white lentils) adds to the protein content.

Idli sambar, idli chutney, idli vada sambar,  these are very popular breakfast items on many restaurant menus, not just in South India but all over India.

Ready idli sambarReady idli sambar
Idli - coconut chutney - desi gheeIdli - coconut chutney - desi ghee Idli made with ground batter

Now, you do not have to go to a restaurant for Idli any more. Make idli at home whenever you want.

You may make idlis at home in three ways given below.

1. Use the ready idli batter

2. Use idli powder mix readily available

3.  Make idli batter at home as per the instructions given below.

Making idli needs advance preparation as you need to soak rice and dal, grind to make batter, ferment the batter.

Making the idli batter at home is also not very difficult if you have a good mixer/blender/grinder.

In South India, they use special grinders that grind the ingredients to fine batter.

Though the preparation for soaking, grinding and fermenting needs to start the previous day, the end result is worth the wait.

And you may make the batter in large quantity and store it in you fridge to use for a week.

You may make dosa, uttappam, spicy appam etc. with this stored batter.

How to make basic Idli batter

There are many recipes for making idli batter. You may like your idlis soft but grainy or you may want them just soft.

The ingredients and the quantity may differ according to the time you need for fermentation depending the weather in your location.

Main ingredients for idli batter

raw rice - white riceraw rice - white rice
white lentils - Split and deskinned urad dalwhite lentils - Split and deskinned urad dal
parboiled rice - Ukda tandul - kudupal akkiparboiled rice - Ukda tandul - kudupal akki
Methi - fenugreek seeds

Ingredients for making  idli

  • Parboiled rice - 1 cup
  • Raw rice - 1/2 cup
  • Urad dal (white lentils) - 1/2 cup
  • Methi / fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Water to wash, soak and grind

Kitchen utensils you need for steaming idli

  • Idli plates/moulds or small bowls
  • Steamer / pressure cooker without weight / any big pot which will hold your idli plates.

Making idli batter from rice and urad dal

Washing and soaking rice and urad dal

  1. Take parboiled rice and raw rice in a bowl. Add water and rub rice with your fingers. Pour out the water. Wash 2-3 times till water runs clean.
  2. Add enough water to cover the rice and let soak for 5-6 hours.
  3. Take urad dal in another bowl. Wash 2-3 times till water runs clear. 
  4. Add methi/fenugreeek seeds to washed urad dal. Add 1 1/2 cup water and let soak for 5-6 hours. Water quantity should be above urad dal level. Urad dal will absorb more water and soften compared to rice.

Grinding rice and dal to make batter

  1. After soaking for about 6 hours, first grind urad dal and methi/fenugreek seeds in the blender/mixer jar or the wet grinder till it is soft and fine and fluffy. Add a little water as and when needed. Do not add too much water.
  2. Remove ground urad dal batter into a large bowl/pot/vessel in which you are going to ferment batter. Keep in mind that the batter is likely to double after fermentation.
  3. Next, grind rice by adding little water as needed. Grind as fine or a little coarse as you like. Depending on the size of your jar, you may need to grind rice in two or three batches.
  4. Add the ground rice paste to the urad dal paste and mix well with your hand or a large spoon.
  5. Add salt and mix well. If the batter seems too thick, add just a little water. We want thick pouring consistency.
  6. Keep in a warm place to ferment. In warm weather, the batter will ferment in 5-6 hours.
  7. In cold weather, it may take longer.  You may wrap some warm cloths/shawl/woolen sweater etc. around the fermenting pot to hasten the fermenting.

You can see the fermented idli batter, ready to steam, below.

fermented idli batterfermented idli batter

Steaming Idli

For steaming idlies:

  • If you have a large steaming pot, use that.
  • You may also use a pressure cooker without the weight for steaming idlis.
  • Or you may use any large pot that will hold your steaming idli stand and that you can cover.
  • If you have a idli stand, use it or you may use small stainless steel bowls or small deep plates to put the batter in for steaming.
  • Heat the steaming pot with about 1 1/2 cups water.
  • Add a ladleful of batter into a idli plates/moulds as shown below in the image.
  • Place the plates on the stand and the stand in the steaming pot where the water is already boiling.
Fermented batter in idli stand, ready to steamFermented batter in idli stand, ready to steam
  • Cover the steamer/cooker with a lid. If you are using pressure cooker, do not use the weight.
  • Steam for 15 minutes.
  • Switch off the flame and let sit for 5 minutes. 
  • Remove pot/cooker cover. Remove the plates. Let cool for 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove each idli with a flat spoon. Dip the flat spoon in a cup of cold water before removing idli. This will help in getting each idli off the plate easily.
Ready idliReady idli

Serve hot with coconut chutney and/or sambar

Tips and variations

  • If any batter is left over, keep it in the fridge and use within next two days to make idlis again.
  • You may use the same batter to make dosa, uttappam or spicy appam/paddu within the next week.
  • You may add vegetables such as green peas, grated carrots, green beans etc. to the batter to make vegetable masala idli.
  • If the batter is fermented properly, you will get soft, fluffy idlis.
  • If batter is not fermented properly, the idlis will be hard.

Related pages to visit

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