How to make Soft and Tasty Idly? (Indian Steam Cake)

Idly is a south Indian traditional tasty breakfast/snack. It is a healthy dish and very easy to digest. I am sure! you guys are wondering and murmuring to yourself Rani, We know how to cook idly and why are you wasting your time for this recipe? “:-). Yeah! I know you guys would prepare idly occasionally for your breakfast but some of my friends complain to me that the idlies they cook come out hard so I plan to share my idly cooking experience here. Normally I like dosa than idlies but my hubby is an idly lover so most of the time I cook idly for him and dosa for myself using the same batter. It is quite tasty and soft and that idlies are a combination of white lentil (whole) /Urad Daal, par-boiled rice/idly rice and some fenugreek seeds.

In my cooking experience the good taste and the soft texture of the idly depends up on the quality and quantity of the ingredients, its soaking time, grinding process and  consistency &  fermentation of  batter . Normally I use rice and lentil 3:1 ratio  but I noticed that the lentil/urad daal my mom used in India provided more batter than mine So she needed only 1/4 cup lentil for 1 1/2 cup of rice (4:1 ratio) for this recipe. I think  Every lentil/Urad daal is different quality and gives you different results so it takes a couple of times to find a perfect idly and its correct ingredients proportion. Try and stay with what works for you.Here is my version of soft and tasty idly. Try it and enjoy with sambar and different types chutneys.

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Recipe Type Main Course/ Snack
Cooking and Preparation Time 30 to 45 Minutes
Serve To 4 to 5

Ingredients For Idly

Ingredient Quantity Notes
Par-boiled rice/Idly Rice 1 ½ Cup
White Lentil/urad Daal ½ Cup in Whole size with out skin
Fenugreek Seeds/Ulluva A pinch It gives your idli's so softness and dosa's more crispiness.
Poha/Flattened Rice/Aval 1 Tablespoon
Salt As per your taste
Sesame Oil/ Gingelly OilNallenna For Greasing Purpose
Water As required

Preparation For Idly batter

1. Wash white lentil /Urad daal and fenugreek seeds, poha together, soak in 3 cups plain water.Keep it in a room temperature for 1 hour and transfer it to the fridge until ready to grind.( I normally soak it for 4 to 5 hours)

2. Wash par-boiled rice and soak for 4 to 5 hours with 3 cups plain water.Keep in a room temperature.

3.  We need to grind rice and lentil separately.

4. Take the urad daal from fridge, drain and keep the cold water aside. Place daal in a mixer/ wet grinder with little water (not much and use the same cold water for soaking) and grind. When its dry , add required water (small quantity) occasionally and make a thick and smooth batter. Pour the daal ground batter in a big container. (The container needs enough space for both rice & daal batter and its fermentation process)

5. Grind rice in the same mixer jar/ wet grinder with enough water (not much) . when it’s very thick add required water occasionally, grind again and make a smooth batter form. Pour it into the daal/lentil batter container. Add salt as per your taste and Mix well (use your hand to mix the batter) and cover it. keep it in a room temperature for fermentation. (It will take 8 to 12 hours).

6.When batter  well fermented, its quantity will rise and the texture will be very smooth and fluffy. A well fermented idly batter gives you very soft and tasty idlies.

Method and Cooking For Soft Idly

idly pics

1. Heat water (for steam idly) in an idly vessels.

2. Grease oil in the idly plates/mould. Add a big spoon full ground batter in each idly shape.

3. place idly plates in the idly vessel.

4. Cover it and cook/steam for next 15 to 20 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.

6. Uncover the vessel. Use a spoon and remove idly from idly plates one by one.

3. Serve idly with Sambar and coconut chutney .Enjoy 🙂


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Notes and Tips:

1. Do not use old stock or low quality lentil. It will be change idly’s taste and texture.

2. Every lentil/Urad daal is different quality and gives you different results. It takes a couple of times to find a perfect idly and its ingredients proportion. Try and stay with what works for you.

3. For fermenting batter in cold countries, Place the batter in a pre heated oven (switch off the oven though). Leave the Oven light on since it will give enough heat to keep the temperature steady throughout the fermentation period . This should take about 10-12 hours.At the same time if you use a room heater, place the batter in that room would help in fermentation.

4. You can make the same batter with crispy dosa’s and uthappam’s.


  1. Sanju Thomas says

    hey Rani Vijoo, The best post so far.This one is well written and image alignment is also good. I think the time has come to take this site to next level. This is phenomenal achievement considering the time you have taken to reach this level. Congratulation and keep walking. I can see a momtrepreneur in making.

  2. RAJESH RK NAIR says

    the simplest south indian dish…..and the most recommended dish by doctors for admitted patients…….but gravy type chutney is better than the solid type…..alle rani??

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