idli recipe with step by step photos – tried and tested method to make soft and fluffy idlis at home.
idli is a traditional breakfast made in every south indian household. these soft pillowy steam lentil rice cakes, as we call them in english is popular outside india too.
there are two ways you can prepare the idli batter. one method uses idli rice. the second method uses idli rawa. i have shared the method of making idlis with idli rawa in this post – idli made with idli rava.
this recipe post shares the method of using rice to make the batter. generally only idli rice is used to prepare idlis. but not everywhere in india, is idli rice easily available. here the recipe shares the method of using two kinds of rice. one is parboiled rice and other is a regular rice. you can even make idlis with short grained rice. on occasions, my mom makes one of the best idlis with parmal rice. she only uses parmal rice and split urad dal. no methi seeds, no baking soda or anything.
to make idli batter some things need to be kept in mind. i have written a detailed post on how to make idli batter in a mixie with a lot of tips and suggestions. you can read this post too.
i have updated this post with better step by step pics but kept the same final pics. when living in goa, i used to use the goan red parboiled rice to make idlis. but now i make the same recipe with regular parboiled rice or idli rice.
in the post, i am sharing the idli batter ground in a mixer-grinder. for smaller quantities i use the mixie for grinding and for larger quantities i use the stone grinder. both work differently and the amount of water to be added also varies.
at times i also make idli with the traditional method of using only idli rice.
idli is a breakfast i have grown up with. on every weekends, soaking rice-lentils, preparing idli batter was a regular ritual. every sunday, i knew we would get piping hot idlis or soft dosa for breakfast along with chutney & sambar.
initially, when preparing idlis for the first time, i ran into problems. but now after so many years of experience, i can make really good idlis and dosa. fermentation is one of the most important factors to get soft idlis. in winters, fermentation is an issue. you can check the post of poha idli, where i have mentioned some suggestions for fermenting idli batter in cold seasons.
for a more softer texture in idli, i always add thick poha (flattened rice) or cooked rice. this is optional and you can skip adding poha. you could also steam idlis in a damp muslin cloth. steaming idlis this way also gives a soft texture.
i always use a proportion of 4:1 for both idlis and dosa. the proportion of rice and urad dal is always a matter of controversy. so i suggest experiment with different types of rice and come to your own standard measurements which will give you perfect idlis.
with this recipe of idli batter, you can also make crisp dosas. you can use this batter on the same day the batter is fermented to make dosas. or else you can make idlis on the first day and make dosas or uttapams on the second day.
soft idli recipe details below:
- 1 cup regular rice, 190 to 200 grams (sona masoori rice or parmal rice or basmati rice)
- 1 cup parboiled rice or idli rice, 200 grams
- ½ cup whole or split urad dal/black gram, husked, 120 grams
- ¼ cup thick poha/flattened rice, 20 grams
- ¼ tsp methi seeds/fenugreek 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 cup water for grinding rice or add as required
- 1 tsp rock salt
- oil as required to apply to the idli moulds
- 2.5 cups water for steaming idlis
- 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 4-5 hours.
- 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 8-9 hours or more if required.
- after the fermentation process is over, the batter will become double in size and rise.
- grease the idli moulds.
- pour the batter in the moulds and steam the idlis in a pressure cooker or steamer.
- if using pressure cooker remove the vent weight.whistle.
- steam for 10-12 mins or until the idlis are done.
- serve the steaming hot idlis with coconut chutney and sambar.
- remaining batter can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
step by step recipe for making soft idlis at home:
1. in a bowl or pan take 1 cup parboiled rice and 1 cup regular rice. here i have used sona masuri rice along with parboiled rice.
2. pick and then rinse both the rice varieties for a couple of times. drain and keep aside.
3. take ¼ cup thick poha in a bowl.
4. rinse the poha once or twice with water.
5. then add the poha to the rice. add 2 cups water. mix very well and keep aside covered to soak for 4 to 5 hours.
6. in a separate bowl take ½ cup urad dal along with ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds.
7. rinse a couple of times.
8. add 1 cup water. cover and soak for 4-5 hours.
9. before grinding, drain the urad dal, but don’t throw away the water. reserve the soaked water.
10. in a wet grinder jar, add the urad dal. initially add ¼ cup of the reserved water.
11. and grind the urad dal for some seconds. then add ¼ cup water and continue to grind. the batter should be light and fluffy when completely ground.
12: pour the urad dal batter in a deep pan or bowl.
13: drain the rice & poha and add them in the wet grinder jar. i usually grind in two parts. depending on the capacity of your mixer-grinder you can grind in two to three parts. if the mixie gets heated up while grinding, then stop and let it cool. then continue with the grinding.
14: use the urad dal strained water or regular water to grind the rice and poha too. add water in parts and grind. the rice can have a fine rava like consistency in the batter. a smooth batter is also fine. i usually add a total of ¾ cup of water while grinding rice. the rice batter should not be too thick or thin.
15: now pour the rice batter in the bowl containing the urad dal batter.
16. add 1 tsp rock salt. mix very well with a spoon or spatula.
17. cover the bowl or container with a lid and keep the batter in a warm place. it should be left undisturbed for 8- 9 hours. don’t use an air-tight lid. in colder climate, keep the batter for a longer time – from 12 to 24 hours.
18. the batter the next morning. it will ferment and increase in volume.
19. grease the idli mould with oil. gently and lightly swirl the batter. don’t over do. now with a spoon pour portions of the batter in the greased idli moulds.
20. take your idli steamer or pressure cooker or electric cooker. add some 2 to 2.5 cups water and heat the water. keep the idli mould in the steamer or pressure cooker. steam for 12 to 15 minutes. timing will vary depending on the kind of equipment you have used. if using a pressure cooker, then cover the pressure cooker with its lid. remove the vent weight/whistle from the lid. steam the idlis for approx 10-12 minutes.
21. check for doneness by inserting a tooth pick. if it does not come out clean, then keep again for a few more minutes. when done remove the idli mould from the cooker. don’t overcook as then they become dry. dip a spoon or butter knife in water and slid them through the idlis. remove and place the idlis in a warm container like a casserole.