Leftover Rice Idli | Cooked Rice Idli

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A bowl of steaming Idli Sambar is comfort food, not just for South Indians, but a lot of people all across India. Personally, for me and my family too, it is a nutritious breakfast every weekend. This is a special recipe of Leftover Rice Idli or Cooked Rice Idli. You can use the rice that is left from your day’s lunch or dinner, and make these fluffy idli. You’ll be amazed with the taste and texture as its going to be similar to the Idli that is made traditionally in South Indian homes.

leftover rice idli served in wooden bowls with coconut chutney in one of the bowls kept on the side.

About Leftover Rice Idli

As much as I love the authentic, traditional idli, I even love experimenting with the idli batter. Since the time I came across the recipe of a Leftover Rice Idli in one of the cookbooks I was reading, I had been making it regularly at home. There were times I also did variations and made idli with different lentils, soybean and ragi (finger millet) as well.

The method of making Leftover Rice Idli is similar to that of making the regular Idli. The difference in the ingredients and their proportion is what makes it uniquely textured type of idli.

Steamed rice makes the idli ultra soft and very light. You’ll literally feel like you’re eating the fluffiest blobs of cotton!

I also add some idli rava (cream of rice) in the recipe. Idli rava is made with idli rice or parboiled rice and not the regular white rice. So keep a note of this when making the recipe. If you do not have idli rava, swap it with idli rice.

Essentially, you have to use cooked rice which is of the same day to make this recipe. So, if you know that you’ll have some rice left, then soak some urad dal and idli rava for a few hours before proceeding with the batter. In case you have a batch of day old refrigerated cooked rice, you can use that as well to make these.

However, you can’t use the same batter to make dosa as they don’t really turn out well. In case of any leftover batter, use it to make paniyaram.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Leftover Rice Idli

Make Batter

1. First prep by rinsing 1 cup idli rava separately in a bowl with water. Soak idli rava in enough water for about 4 hours.

Similarly rinse ½ cup cup urad dal (husked black gram) in water a few times. Soak urad dal in a bowl filled with enough water for 4 hours.

Before grinding the ingredients, drain the water from the soaked idli rava. Take portions of the idli rava in your fist and squeeze it tightly to remove any extra water. Add this squeezed portion of the idli rava to the mixer-grinder or a sturdy blender.

Work on portions of rava this way and add them to the mixer-grinder or blender. Drain all of the water from the urad dal. Add the soaked urad dal to the blender.

Next add in 1 cup cooked leftover rice (I used cooked sona masuri rice). Add about 8 to 10 tablespoons of water at intervals and grind to a smooth and fine batter.

The batter has a thick to medium-thick consistency and should be flowing. If the batter looks very thick, you can add some more water while grinding.

collage of two photos showing soaked idli rava, urad dal and ground batter in blender.

2. Pour the batter in a pan and stir in some rock salt as required. Cover and let the batter ferment overnight or for 8 to 9 hours.

Since the temperatures are not the same everywhere, the fermentation time will vary and be more. If the batter has not increased in volume, allow it to ferment for some more hours.

collage of two photos showing before before fermentation and after fermentation.

Make Leftover Rice Idli

3. Grease the idli pans with some oil and pour the batter in the moulds. Steam for 10 to 12 minutes in an idli steamer or electric cooker or the Instant Pot adding water as needed.

collage of two photos showing batter in moulds and steamed leftover rice idli in moulds.

4. Serve Leftover Rice Idli hot or warm with coconut chutney. You can also serve sambar with these Cooked Rice Idli.

top shot of cooked rice idli served in wooden bowls with coconut chutney in one of the bowls.

Not So Leftover

The way Indians use their leftover food in many more mouth-watering recipes is something spectacular. After all, this habit is ingrained in us as food is an emotion, nothing less than God for us. So, we cannot simply waste food under any circumstances. Yes, if it is spoilt, then it’s a different thing. Otherwise, never.

Steamed rice or cooked rice has probably been the most common form of leftover food in India. I mean, you visit any household in the Indian subcontinent, the leftover rice is regularly used to make a variety of other quick and tasty dishes.

This Leftover Rice Idli is one of those recipes. Along with this there are others like the Rice Pakoda, Lemon Rice, Rice Cutlet and Masala Rice. For more of such quick fix recipes with cooked rice, check out the Leftover Rice Recipes link.

Some regional favorites with other leftover food are Aloo Tikki Chole with leftover Chana Masala, chawal and chana dal paratha with cooked rice and leftover chana dal.

The left over bhaji of the Mumbai special Pav Bhaji is uses as a filling in dosa and sandwiches. The leftover idli or dosa batter is also used to make Kuzhi Paniyaram or Sweet Paniyaram from the cuisine of Tamil Nadu.

More Idli Varieties To Try!

9 hours 15 minutes

Poha Idli

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top shot of leftover rice idli served in wooden bowls with coconut chutney in one of the bowls.

Leftover Rice Idli | Cooked Rice Idli

This is a special and unique recipe of Leftover Rice Idli or Cooked Rice Idli. You can use the rice that is left from your day’s lunch or dinner, and make these fluffy and ultra soft idli.
4.80 from 15 votes
Prep Time 9 hours
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 9 hours 12 minutes
Cuisine South Indian
Course Breakfast, Snacks
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 16 Leftover Rice Idli


  • 1 cup leftover rice or cooked rice or steamed rice
  • 1 cup idli rava (cream of rice)
  • ½ cup urad dal (husked black gram – whole or split)
  • 8 to 10 tablespoons water – for grinding ingredients to make batter
  • rock salt (edible and food grade) or sea salt, add as required
  • oil as required, for greasing idli moulds


Making batter

  • Rinse urad dal a few times in water. Soak the lentils in enough water for 4 hours.
  • Rinse the idli rava with water once or twice. Soak the idli rava with enough water for 4 hours.
  • Drain water from the urad dal and reserve some of its strained water. We will use this water to grind the idli batter. Or you can use fresh water.
  • Next drain all of the water from the idli rava very well. Take a portion of the idli rava in your fist. Press it and squeeze the extra water from it.
    Place this squeezed lump of the idli rava in the blender or mixer-grinder jar. Similarly squeeze water from the idli rava portions and add then to the blender.
  • Add the urad dal and cooked leftover rice in the blender or the grinder jar.
  • First add 2 to 3 tablespoons water and grind for a minute.
  • Stop grinding, and then add the remaining 6 to 7 tablespoons in batches while grinding. Do not add all of the water at once.
    Depending on the quality of urad dal and idli rava, you will need more or less water. The batter consistency has to be flowing and can be thick to medium-thick.
  • The batter should be fluffy, smooth, fine and ground well.
  • Pour the entire batter in a deep pan or bowl. Mix in salt as needed.
  • Cover with a lid and let the idli batter ferment overnight or for 8 to 9 hours.

Making leftover rice idli

  • The next day before making the idli, add 2 to 3 cups water in a steamer or electric cooker or a stovetop pressure cooker.
  • Switch on the steamer or electric cooker or place the pressure cooker on the stovetop and let the water come to a boil.
  • Grease the idli moulds with oil. Pour the fermented batter in the idli moulds.
  • Place the idli pan in the steamer, electric cooker or pressure cooker.
  • Cover with their respective lids.
  • If using pressure cooker, remove the vent weight (whistle) from the lid.
  • Steam for 10 to 12 minutes or more till a tooth pick inserted in the idli comes out clean.
  • Serve the Leftover Rice Idli steaming hot or warm with some coconut chutney or sambar or both.


  • Easily swap idli rava with 1 cup of idli rice. 
  • Keep in mind that perfect fermentation needs warm temperature conditions. If you live in cold climatic conditions, the fermentation will take more time. 
  • Make only idli with this recipe as the dosa does not turn out that well.
  • The recipe can be scaled easily to make with your leftover rice portions.

Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

Nutrition Facts
Leftover Rice Idli | Cooked Rice Idli
Amount Per Serving
Calories 92 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 0.2g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Sodium 74mg3%
Potassium 17mg0%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 0.01g0%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 0.3IU0%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.03mg2%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.01mg1%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 0.4mg2%
Vitamin B6 0.03mg2%
Vitamin C 0.3mg0%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 0.1µg0%
Calcium 7mg1%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 10µg3%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 4mg1%
Phosphorus 18mg2%
Zinc 0.2mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Leftover Rice Idli post from the archives first published in September 2013 has been republished and updated on 6 July 2022.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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    1. idli rava is semi-fine ground idli rice, much similar in texture to fine rava or sooji got from wheat.

  1. Thank you so much. I always struggled with the idea of making idlis but last time your recipe with idli rava did wonders. Today I want to try this recipe with cooked rice. But I want to ask if there is any difference in proportions of ingredients if we want to make dosa with this same batter. (I struggled a bit with idli rava batter to make dosas, last time)

    1. welcome. for dosa you can reduce the cooked rice to ½ cup and keep the amount of idli rava and urad dal same. hope this helps.

    1. connie, its a form of salt easily available in india. used in religious fasting. you can replace with non-iodized salt.

    1. yes you can use raw rice. 1 cup is fine. soak the rice for 3 to 4 hours and then grind.

  2. It’s too good I can learn easily.shows photos really good method.
    I’m try this.this site useful for me.

    Sweety l vaishnav

  3. Really awesome recipes . This site is a bible for me and my husband.5 stars

    1. vidya, any good super store or general store. you should get it locally easily.

  4. i read the reciepe of paav bhaaji i want make it instead of carrot and cauliflower i want to use cabbage

  5. Hello Dassana!

    I have been a regular follower of your blog. All the recipes that I have tried from your blog have been a hit. I trust your recipes 100% and dont hesitate at all to try any of the recipes for the first time as I know they’ll turn out to be well. You are doing a wonderful job and please keep up the good work.

    I had some leftover rice and was wondering what to do with it when I came across this idli recipe. Idli’s have always been a disaster with me, but this time they turned out to be extremely soft and fluffly. Thanks a lot

    1. welcome soumya. thanks for sharing positive review on recipes and also for the trust you have on the recipes. glad to read your feedback.

    2. Hi Dassana…. ur the best teacher of mine till date ,i hv developed learnin intrest in cookin n tryin ur recipes 🙂 plz release ur cookbook …5 stars

  6. Hi,
    In refrigerator how much time I can keep this batter.can I make dosa or uttapam using same batter.I used basmati rice to make it ,after keeping for fermentation for more thn 15 hours quantity is just same.how to know fermentation has been properly done.

    1. vibha, you can keep this batter in fridge for 2-3 days. you can not make dosa or uttapam from this batter as it is very soft. when fermentation is done you will see tiny bubbles in it. the whole mixture will look fluffy and the batter will rise also. there will be a faint sour aroma.

  7. It’s an amazing recipe… During winters, fermentation is a big problem.. This recipe has given me an idea to prepare fluffy idli.. Thanx..4 stars

  8. I was wondering, do you mean 1/2 cup of black gram and 1/2 cup of urad dal/split each (1 cup total with the two) or a total of 1/2 cup from both (1/4 cup from each)? Thanks, this sounds great!

    1. its just 1/2 cup of urad dal which is actually husked black gram. not 1 cup.

  9. Hello Dassana,

    I tried this recipe but it did not work for me. I used exactly the same ingredients and quantity but unfortunately the batter did not rise. The idlis were sticky. I have tried other idli recipes so I know my ferment technique was fine.

    Not sure what went wrong.

    Thanks, Divya

    1. i think its with the quality of rice. i have made these idli recipe many times and never had any issues. also depends on the temperature conditions.

  10. Hi there!
    your recipe makes me drool.. i’m so much curious about this idli. can you kindly explain what is idli rava (cream of rice) and is it different to rava idli?5 stars

    1. cream of rice is or idli rava is coarsely ground parboiled rice. rava idli are idlis made from rava or sooji. these are coarsely ground wheat, like farina available in the west.

      1. Can i substitute the coarsely ground parboiled rice to white rice and use miller to mill it into coarsely?5 stars

        1. depending on the quality of white rice, the texture of the idli can vary. if the idlis don’t come out soft textured, then it looks like a lot of effort has gone wasted. this will be an experiment. i would suggest adding short grained variety of rice. if using rice, then you just soak the rice in water for 4 hours. drain and then grind with the rest of the ingredients. if you want you can also mill the rice or you can also grind the soaked rice separately.

  11. tried this recipe but idly came out yellow color, sticky and pasty….ni matter how much I coiked texture did not harden…..what did I do wrong

    1. i think the batter did not ferment well. if the batter ferments properly, then the batter is not sticky or pasty. another reason is rule out is the quality of rice or urad dal. the urad dal should not be past its shelf life.

  12. Idlis look so soft! I want to try this today, but not sure what kind of cooked rice to use. Did you use basmati for the cooked rice?

    1. idli is coarsely ground rice and not sooji. sooji is coarsely ground wheat.

  13. Can 1/2 cup of red lentils be used instead of the urad dal? I can’t find urad dal in the supermarkets.


    1. red lentils would give a different taste and texture. i would suggest to use mung lentils instead of red lentils in this recipe.

  14. Dassana,my dear..God bless you for this super yumm recipe.I have been constantly nose diving into idli batter mistakes all this while..i tried your cooked idli recipe..and i am gobbling up the softest idlis ever..i love the aroma that emanates from the idli cooker…thanks a ton and keep them coming 🙂 …will try other recipes and get back to u 🙂


    1. welcome suchitra. glad to know that the cooked rice idli recipe turned out well for you. do give your feedback once you try other recipes and thanks for the rating. feel free to write if there is any doubt in a recipe.

    1. i have never made idlis with rice flour. you can try adding rice flour and see how it works. in this recipe it should work fine as both urad dal and cooked rice is added.

  15. Hey Dassana! I made these idlies with cook rice and turned out super yummy! Thanks…Wll be blogging about it shortly:)

  16. Awesome! Such a great way to use left over rice. Looking at the idlis it is hard to tell that they were made from cooked rice. Thanks for sharing!5 stars

    1. in this recipe, its idli rava. if making regular idlis, then better to make with idli rice.

  17. interesting.. i sometimes add leftover rice while making normal idli batter.. that gives soft idlis..these days i use normal ponni rice instead of idli rice.. do u think that can be added instead of idli rice.. i think it will be ok..what do u say dassana?

    1. even i add a handful of rice while making the idli batter. the recipe would work with ponni rice too. 3/4 cup of rice would be alright.

      1. What is the difference between idli rava and the normal rava that we use for making upma?5 stars

        1. idli rava is made from idli rice or parboiled rice or ukda chawal. normal rava is made from wheat.