Mar 10, 2008

Recipe - Idli

(Steam cooked dumplings)


Idli is an breakfast/meal . It is steam cooked and doesn't use any oil. In South India, idli is very popular for breakfast. Idli can be eaten with sambar and different kinds of chutneys. For variation idli can be prepared with idli rava or par boiled rice. Idli making is very easy but it is little time consuming and will need time to preparation. Lot of people use regular rice which is ok but the result is not the same as the typical South Indian Idlis. Idli tastes good when the batter is properly fermented. People who suffer from asthma, they should not be eating heavily fermented idli's which MAY cause breathing problems. As we live in a colder climate, it takes little longer than the usual time to ferment. Usually if it is summer it should not take more than 8 hours to ferment.

Utensils for Idli making:

* Idli maker


Urad dal (black gram) - 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds - 2 teaspoons (optional - this helps makes the idli's more soft)
Idli rava (cream of rice) - 2 and a half cups
Salt - 1 teaspoon (according to taste)

Preparation for Idli batter:

Presoak the dal and fenugreek seeds together for 5 - 6 hours or over night. My mom had always told me not to wash the dal when you soak it. The fermenting agent is taken away when washed before hand. It may be a myth, but I follow it to the "T".

Wash the urad dal before grinding. Also soak the idli rava in a separate container. I pre-warm the oven as I am about to grind the idli batter. The ground batter will be sitting in the oven for fermentation process. Note: the oven should be turned off during fermentation processes. The pre-warming is to ensure the oven has the correct temperature for fermentation.

Grind the urad dal and fenugreek seeds with 3/4 cup of water or even less. It is always a good practice not to add water all at once. Slowly add the water every 3 minutes during grinding. Add salt after 5 minutes. Grind the batter into a silky smooth mixture. Pour the batter into a clean and deep container.

Wash and drain the excess water from the idli rava. Squeeze out any excess water from the idli rava with your hand and then add it to the idli batter (urad dal batter).

Mix well and cover the batter. The fermentation container should be three times as big as the quantity of the batter and rava together. Once the batter is fermented, it almost doubles or triples the original quantity. For fermentation, place it the warm oven or any other warm place. Remember to turn off the oven before placing the container in the oven. Let the batter ferment over night.

After 10- 12 hours you will see the batter fully fermented. You can tell if the batter is properly fermented if the batter has risen in the container (twice or thrice the original quanity).

Make sure the consistency of the batter should be medium. not too thick not too thin.

Method to cook Idli:

You will need a container in which to steam the idlis. The steaming vessel should be large enough to contain the idli plates. Add 1 1/2 cup water and turn on the stove at medium high heat.

Grease the idli plates with ghee/oil and pour the fermented idly batter into the molds. Make sure you don't pour the batter to the brim of the mould. Tip: The amount of batter for each idli should be about 2/3 the size of the mould.

While you are steam cooking, idli fluff up and the idly sticks to the plate/mould sitting on top of it.

Place the idly plates stack in the steaming vessel, cover it and let steam cook it for 12- 15 minutes. You should turn off the stove after 12-15 minutes otherwise you will have very dry idlis. Let it cool for 5 minutes and remove them with a butter knife or a small spoon and serve them hot with chutney or sambar.

Preparation time:

15 minutes to make idli's

15 minutes to grind and mix rava with the batter
8 -10 hours for fermentation

# servings 4 - 6


For left over idli's, you can wet a paper towel and wrap the idli's in it and microwave them for a minute. You will have steaming and piping hot idli's ready. No one can tell the difference ;-)

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Some of the recipes presented here are originally inspired by others. Credit is given to the original postings. I have listed recipes here for my own reference as well as pictures are my addition to the whole cooking experience. Enjoy.