Idli – Savoury steamed rice and black gram breakfast recipe with tips – Vegan


When we were kids a bus would pass our school as we waited at the bus stand everyday at the same time. The initials IDPL was painted on it and we used to call it ‘Idli Dosa Poori Laddoo’ bus. Just one of those silly things kids do even today! It turned out to be ‘Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd.’:). Much later I learnt that my mama (mother’s brother) used to sing for his breakfast thus – “chapathi yaa, idli yaa…masala dosa.” Try singing it to the tune of the old Hindi song – “ye vadiyaan, ye nazaare bula rahi hai tumhe….”. It fits perfectly:)!
I started making idlis only after I realised that my son liked them so much that he would eat them at my neighbour’s place though they made them pretty hard (not anymore as I told them how to make it). I always preferred dosas as idlis were too healthy probably;). Even now I make them only about once a month. The good thing about idli is that it is convenient and hassle free. Once you have the batter ground and ready you can freeze it, and keep using as and when required. It takes hardly 5 minutes for idlis to steam and making the chutney takes another 5 minutes if you have a darling spouse to grate the coconut for you like mine;).Idli batter:
Clean in enough changes of water and soak the following for at least four hours:
Parboiled rice (I use Kolam ukda chaawal) – 3 cups + A fistful of thick beaten rice flakes (Optional)
Dehusked split black gram (Urad dal) – 1 cup + 1tsp. fenugreek seeds (Methi dana)GRIND:
Grind the two combinations separately after four hours. If the weather is cold you may have to wait till the lentils swell up really well or use warm water for soaking.Tips:
I generally grind the black gram and methi seeds first as it requires more water. I use an electric grinder (butterfly brand). Do not add too much water. The batter should be thickly flowing(molten lava consistency). If you are using a mixer use ice cold water to compensate for the heat generated by the motor. Also, increasing the urad dal to 1.5 cups instead of 1 helps in case of using mixers and not grinders. The resultant batter should be frothy and very light like well whipped cream.

Rice soaks up enough water so you do not need to add much. Drain and grind and add water only as much as needed to keep the smooth grinding going. You may grind it coarse or smooth as per your preference. I keep mine slightly coarse.

Now pour both the batters in a vessel or air tight food grade plastic container and mix them thoroughly. The batter will rise to nearly twice its original height and the pressure can cause the lid to snap open, in which case the batter will overflow so choose a container that is big enough to hold the resultant batter. If the climate is cold keep the vessel on top of/wrapped in folded ‘turkish towel’ as it helps to trap heat.

The fermentation is done overnight or till the batter doubles in volume. I keep aside for 8 hours in December and at least 6 hours during other times. After this period add salt (about 2tsp. or to taste) and mix thoroughly once more.

Fill the cooker with a little water to generate the steam (about 3 or 4 cups). I use an idli mould/stand which I grease with very little oil. If you do not have moulds you may use stainless steel cups instead. Pour batter in the moulds till levelled and steam without a whistle/weight for at least 3 minutes on high and 5 minutes on sim. Let the pressure go down naturally and then open the cooker. Idlis can be demoulded with the blunt edge of a spoon by lifting the corners gently with a knife.

Serve hot with coconut chutney and molagapodi(gun powder).

The chutney recipe can be found here. Molagapodi recipe will follow soon.

Texture: Idlis should be light, soft and fluffy like wisps of cloud. You should be able to split it without any effort at all.


Are your idlis hard?
– Check whether you have used raw rice instead of parboiled.
– If you are using a mixie use cold water instead of tap water.
– Add a fistful of beaten rice flakes or cooked rice to the soaked raw rice while grinding.
– Try increasing the quantity of black gram dal by 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

Print Friendly


Have your say

  1. lovely soft pillows 🙂
    me too a dosai fan… I kind of find ildis a bit too dry for my taste… but your pictures tempted me into making these 🙂

  2. Idlis are so soft and gorgeous Harini! Pass me that plate! Yum! Very nice tips for soft idlis 🙂

  3. Hi Harini,
    Nice post! I would have never though Idli post would be so interesting to read 🙂

  4. Yea IDPL…Cracked me up. Looks super soft I too use paraboiled rice for making idlies,comes our very soft. Pics making me drool..

  5. I used to use sweaters and pull overs around my idli batter vessel during Kolkata winters :-))) I really love the way the batter rises up!! Give me soft steaming idlis anytime, anywhere, anyday!! Havent had them since I came to Syndey over a year ago!!!!!

  6. I use 4 cups of parboiled rice! but i don’t make rock! Look like Mallige poo H 🙂 LOL about the bus!

  7. Mahimaa's kitchen

    look at those, so soft and fluffy… i am hungry Harini.

  8. Ramya Vijaykumar

    Idli looks so soft I usually am nagged about being a idli fan much against Dosa… 2 chutneys wow great breakfast…

  9. You are really funny. & I am really singing to the tune.. hehehe

    haven't heard of a kid who does not like idli.

    Those are some nice tips. I use more dal… didn't know about the cold water..fortunately mine comes out okay:-D

  10. Yeah,idli is a perfect breakfast! It is a part of life for all south Indians in TN 🙂 Urs looks just rite:)

  11. I’d take Idli Dosa Poori Laddoo over Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd anyday:)
    Perfect idlis!

  12. Kitchen Flavours

    Wow fluppy, soft and yum. This is one of the perfect comfort food.

  13. so beautiful and soft idlis mmmmmm feel like eating them yummmmm

  14. We make it atleast once a week…yours look so yummy..who can dislike those healthy white beauties dear ? (enjoyed reading you as always)

  15. Those idlis look perfect! Great tips on making them soft…I’ve been driven to absolute frustration coz I didn’t get them right consistently!

  16. Oh…and I forgot to say…loved reading this (trying to hum those words to the tune :))

  17. Always beatuful to have a peek at idlis.. Nice and fluffy little pillows!

  18. Love those soft idlis. 🙂

  19. Shama Nagarajan

    idli’s are inviting..soft

  20. love your photos. i hated idlis when i was a kid but was the only thing i could eat when i was pregnant and now i love them. while i was in the hospital, we used to get these things called Khushboo idlis – big, white and fluffy! lol!!

  21. Loved those photos .. I love love idlis soo much with sambar. I could eat it for breakfast everyday

  22. I never get the idli batter right! Will try your way and folow your tips next time. Idlies look yum and I LOVED the pics!

  23. Those are some really cool photographs Harini. I have to search for Kolam Ukda chawal here in the US. Is it the same as parboiled rice. I don’t know what rice it is, but there is only which has given me perfect idlis. It’s either broken or very small grain. Now , it’s not available any more. I am not a fan of idli rawa. Any insights? Should I buy parboiled rice, look for kolam Ukda or resort to idli rawa? Now, why did you make such delicious looking Idlis? I love idlis and can never have enough. You know they are selling 30 lb bag of idli rice (the one I mentioned before) I really don’t know what to do. By the way, have you found that whole , round urad daal actually makes any difference in idlis?

  24. Idli and chutney is my all time favourite breakfast/lunch/snack/dineer…urs look perfect. I always have to try my luck for fermentatin here in this cold weather.

  25. Very informative post. Idlis are looking very soft. Liked the innovative song also…. Pictures ke to kya kahene………..:)

  26. I remember Idli, Dosa, Puri, Laddoo buses. hmmm… looong time. Those idlis look too good.

  27. Thats a lovely post Harini…we can’t be without idlis for long..:)

  28. i have never came across such b’ful pics of idlis..Even idli-haters will start loving idlis after seeing your pics.They look like ‘jasmine’.Nice post!

  29. Lovely idlis. I made idlis this morning as well, but the quick rava variety.

  30. My hubby is a big fan of idli and me of uttappam.. I used to hate idli so much that I rarely had it for breakfast. If I had no option then I would roast it on tawa and make it crispy and eat with tomato ketchup 😀 Things have changed now though and I do eat it.They look so soft and fluffy.

  31. Am just drooling here seeing your soft fluffy idlies!

  32. Even though i make idli regularly, there is something new to learn from everybody. The pictures look very nice.

  33. For being a Tam, my Idlis suck. Trying your version next time.

  34. M new to u!! though i m not tht much idli dosa fan i make it regularly as i have less options. nd idlis long time since i made them as here the batter nvr fermented much. Idlis R so soft nd chubby!! now i have to try them once more

  35. those idlies sure are soft. i hated them as a kid..but crave them now…haven’t made idlies for 6 years..i eat them when i visit my mom…

  36. My daughter (and me) loves idlis too and has it at the neighbor’s, theirs is way softer than mine 🙂

    These look perfect

  37. i’m nostalgic now. it’s been a while since i ate a nice fluffy idli, ‘cos it doesn’t ferment in my home.

  38. Those are absolutely beautiful soft idlis – thanks for all the tips!

  39. thanks for such gorgeous photos. they look like clouds!

  40. Nice recipie

Thanks for reading. Receive free updates by email.

Frank speak corner! Something you would like to say?