Idli recipe – how to make soft idlis every time

Idli, also known as idly is a soft and pillowy steamed cake that is made by grinding rice, urad dal (skinned black lentils), along with water.

Follow this authentic recipe to make those melt-in-your-mouth, soft idlis just like the ones made in south Indian homes.

The alarm goes off noisily and in one quick motion, I hit snooze, slide off my covers and sprint downstairs to check on something in the kitchen.


In less than a minute, I am back in my bed with a big smile on my face. Healthy chinese curry sauce recipe My husband who knows this Sunday morning routine well by now takes one look at my face states “Looks like the idli batter has fermented”. Red thai curry paste recipe I nod and I go back to sleep peacefully dreaming about the pillow soft idlis we are going to have for breakfast. Red thai curry paste recipe jamie oliver What is idli and what is it made of?

Idli is a savory dish that hails from the southern part of India and is made by grinding rice, urad dal (skinned black lentils), along with water. Thai panang red curry paste recipe This mixture is then left to ferment overnight before being steamed in an idli steamer.

While they were traditionally eaten as a breakfast item along with chutney and sambar, during the last couple of decades it has become popular as a snack food throughout India.

For those who have experienced the whimsical nature of the idli dosa batter probably know that making soft idlis can be compared to predicting the weather. Real thai red curry paste recipe The uncertainty that is involved with the fermentation process can drive anyone up the wall especially after having taken the time to soak the rice and urad dal and grinding them to the perfect texture and the consistency that these idlis demand.

And the cleanup that is required afterward if you have used the wet stone grinder – don’t even get me started on that.

But having experimented for 10 years with different ingredients and temperatures, I am very excited to state that I have a winner recipe that has been giving me consistent results. Authentic thai red curry paste recipe Drum roll, please ??

The softness of the idlis depends on three key factors – Ingredients and their ratio, batter consistency and fermentation

• Ingredients and the ratio – Idli requires 2 main ingredients – Rice and Urad dal. Healthy easy curry recipe The ratio in which it is used changes depending on the weather. Healthy easy chicken curry recipe For instance, in winter, use 1:3 ratio and summer 1:4 i.e for every 1 cup urad dal use 3 cups of rice (in summer) or 4 cups of rice (in winter)

• Whole urad dal – Always use whole urad dal for best results. Healthy chicken curry recipes for two An even better option would be the unprocessed black split urad dal but it is a pain to separate the skin out – needs to be rinsed at least 10-12 times.

• Methi or fenugreek seeds – The methi seeds aid with fermentation but are optional if you live in a warm place.

• Thick poha (flattened rice) – Soak a fistful of thick poha (flattened rice) (approximately 1/2 cup) in water for 5 minutes before grinding rice. Healthy chicken curry recipe coconut milk Grind it alongside rice. Healthy chicken curry recipe yogurt Note – I don’t use this because while it makes the idli soft, the leftover batter tends to go sour quickly.

• Equipment – Originally a big stone mortar/pestle was used to grind but not many people use it anymore. The options that are available now are

• Electric Wet stone grinder – The next best thing to using stone mortar/ pestle. Healthy chicken curry recipe bbc There are 2 popular models. Healthy chicken curry recipe slow cooker I have this one from Premier wonder (1.5L capacity) and my friend has this one from Ultra-Dura (1.25L). Healthy coconut curry recipe Both do a great job of grinding the batter though it takes approximately 20-30 minutes.

• Indian Mixer and Grinder – Most Indian homes have a mixie like this one and this was the go-to machine in my house for idli/dosa batter. Healthy chicken curry recipe easy The only problem is that it has a tendency to overheat quickly and shuts down. Healthy fish curry recipe indian Also, when overloaded it heats up the batter destroying the good bacteria in the process. Easy healthy indian curry recipes To get around this issue – grind in small batches and use ice-cold water while grinding.

• High-performance blenders like Blendtec or Vitamix (my preferred choice) – Ever since we brought Blendtec home, I have started using them to grind my idlis. Healthy chicken curry recipes Takes only 2 minutes. Easy vegetarian curry recipes indian I run the smoothie cycle to grind urad dal as well as the rice. Easy veg curry recipes for rice Use cold water to prevent overheating and killing the good bacteria.

• Batter consistency – The batter should not be runny or too thick. Easy veggie curry recipes Think more like a free flowing pancake batter.

• Fermentation – Leave the batter to ferment in a warm place. Easy veg curry recipes for dinner Fermentation can take anywhere between 8 – 12 hours (and sometimes up to 15 hours in cold winters). Easy veg curry recipes For most people in India, that would mean leaving it on your kitchen counter. Healthy coconut curry chicken recipe But for those living abroad in much colder climates, you have the following options

• Oven – Leave it inside your oven with the light on or Preheat your oven to 170 degrees F or the lowest temperature it can be preheated to. Authentic thai curry paste recipe Turn off the oven. Authentic curry paste recipe Wait for 10 minutes and then place the batter inside the oven.

• Close to your heat vent – Always place your vessel on a cookie sheet – don’t want the overflowing batter seeping in the vent.

• The proof setting in your oven – If your oven has a proof setting, go ahead and use it. Traditional curry sauce recipe Set it for 12 hours and your batter is nice and ready.

• Use an Instant Pot (my preferred choice) – Pour the batter in the steel insert. Authentic red curry paste recipe Place the steel insert inside the Instant Pot. Authentic massaman curry paste recipe Press the yogurt function – the display should read “YOGT”. Authentic green curry paste recipe Adjust the time to 12 hours. Authentic chinese curry sauce recipe Cover the lid and lock it. Authentic korma curry paste recipe The vent can be either at sealing or venting position – doesn’t matter. Traditional thai red curry paste recipe This is my preferred method because it yields consistent results every time.

• Soaking – Wash the rice and urad dal separately until the water runs clean.

• Add the methi/fenugreek seeds to the rice and soak it in water for 4-6 hours. Thai massaman curry paste recipe Soak the urad dal too for the same amount of time.

• Grinding – Drain all the water from the urad dal and grind it to a fine paste using spoonfuls of water at a time (approximately ? cup in total). Thai panang curry paste recipe Grind the rice to a coarse paste with approximately 1 cup of water and then mix both the pastes together in a large bowl and whisk them well. Thai red curry paste recipe jamie oliver Add water as needed (approximately another ? cup) to get the batter to a consistency that is neither too thick or thin. Thai green curry recipe with paste If using Blendtec, run the smoothie cycle (approximately 60 seconds) for both idli and urad dal batter.

• Fermentation – Keep the batter in a warm place to ferment (see notes) Once the batter has risen, add salt to the batter and whisk the batter to mix it well.

• Steaming – Grease the idli stand with oil. The best curry sauce recipe and take a ladleful of batter and fill the idli mold. Curry cream sauce recipes Add ? cup of water in the idli steamer and let it boil. Spicy coconut curry sauce recipe Put the idli stand inside and close the lid. Rainforest cafe coconut curry sauce recipe Let the steam build for 8-10 minutes before switching off the gas. Restaurant curry sauce recipe If you are using a cooker, use it without a vent and steam it for 10 minutes and then switch the gas off. Shrimp curry sauce recipe In both cases, wait till the steam is released (another 5-10 minutes) before you take the idli stand out.

• Wait for another 5 minutes and then use a sharp knife to scoop the idlis out.

Fermentation – Leave the batter to ferment in a warm place. Chili powder sauce recipe Fermentation can take anywhere between 8 – 12 hours (and sometimes up to 15 hours). Japanese curry sauce recipe For most people in India, that would mean leaving it on your kitchen counter. Curry sauce with coconut milk recipes But for those living abroad in much colder climates, you have the following options

1) Oven – Leave it inside your oven with the light on or Preheat your oven to 170 degrees F or the lowest temperature it can be preheated to. Chili chicken sauce recipe Turn off the oven. S&b golden curry sauce mix recipe Wait for 10 minutes and then place the batter inside the oven.

2) Close to your heat vent – Always place your vessel on a cookie sheet – don’t want the overflowing batter seeping inside the vent.

3) The proof setting in your oven – Set it for 12 hours and your batter is nice and ready.

4) Use an Instant Pot (my preferred choice) – Pour the batter in the steel insert. Shrimp with curry sauce recipe Place the steel insert inside the Instant Pot. Shrimp in curry sauce recipe Press the yogurt function – the display should read “YOGT”. Japanese katsu curry sauce recipe Adjust the time to 12 hours. Chili sauce recipe easy Cover the lid and lock it.The vent can be either at sealing or venting position – doesn’t matter. Red chili powder sauce recipe This is my preferred method because it yields consistent results every time.

Idli and Sambar Frequently asked questions What is idli rice? Is it parboiled rice?

Yes, it is. The typical practice in our household has been to make idlis from the freshly fermented batter and store the remaining batter in the refrigerator for dosas. Fish with curry sauce recipe Idlis made from refrigerated batter tend to be less soft than the ones made the same day the batter has fermented. Chicken with curry sauce recipe How long does it take to steam idli

Approximately 8-10 minutes depending on the steamer you use. Yellow thai curry sauce recipe How long to soak the rice?

4 -6 hours. Trader joe’s red thai curry sauce recipe You can soak them overnight as well. Trader joe’s yellow curry sauce recipe How long to soak urad dal?

4 -6 hours.You can soak them overnight as well. Vegan yellow curry sauce recipe What if the batter doesn’t ferment?

Does the batter appear too thick? Add spoonfuls of water and whisk it well. Trader joe’s thai yellow curry sauce recipe If it doesn’t ferment after 18 hours, refrigerate the batter and make dosas. Red chili powder enchilada sauce recipe Let’s recap, so here’s how to make soft idlis consistently?

• Choose the right variety of rice ( idli rice/parboiled rice/ponni boiled rice)

• In winter go with 1:3 ratio and summer 1:4 i.e for every 1 cup urad dal use 3 cups of rice (in summer) or 4 cups of rice (in winter)

• Batter consistency should be free flowing – neither too thick or watery

• Grease the idli molds. Chinese style curry sauce recipe Do not steam for more than 10 minutes.

I never want you to be disappointed that your idli batter didn’t ferment. Simple yellow curry sauce recipe Do you have more questions? I would love to answer them. Sweet chili sauce recipe easy Leave a comment and I will be happy to help.

Won’t the instant pot steel insert container get reaction to the fermentation process? One of my aluminium rice cooker vessels bore a hole after I used it for this purpose for years. Lasagna sauce recipe easy I am just a bit cautious since it is my fav cooking gadget but I am intrigued to use that yoghurt feature in it ?? maybe if it can make yoghurt its not going to cause damage to the vessel. Salmon with curry sauce recipe How long have you been using it for this purpose?

I have used a steel container for 10+ years for fermenting idli batter and it still looks as good as new. Pizza sauce recipe easy I am guessing the IP steel insert should hold up okay. Pasta sauce recipe easy I have been using it for batter only since the past 2-3 weeks.

Hi! I am Anu – former Project manager and now full-time blogger. Homemade pizza sauce recipe easy Through this blog, I show how quickly and easily you can cook healthy and delicious Indian meals with just a few basic ingredients. Trader joe’s thai green curry simmer sauce recipes Read More…

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