Idli / Fermented steamed lentil and rice cake

IMG_6596  Idlies are always a family favourite in many South Indian families and mine is no exception. The best part about Idli is, no oil, no sugar. And idli one of those lovely foods which can be eaten without worrying about calories. (Of course, you need rice for the carbohydrates. Don’t you?)


I grew up eating the idlies prepared by my grand mom, mom and many of my aunts. But the one recipe that is highly appreciated in our family circle belongs to my dearest sis. I tried copying her recipe many times and always felt, this is not her recipe. And every time , she would give me a new reason for the variation in taste. (The latest one, I got was, grind in the wet grinder attached with stone. And yes, it makes the difference in the texture). So finally, we prepare the idlies together, rather mostly supervised by her, and got into the exact texture and taste.



As always, it’s a joy to watch these small wonders in the kitchen.

South Indian Rice Idli

  • 2 cups rice semolina / rice sooji or idli rava
  • 1 cup black gram dal without skin or urad dal
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fruit salt (ENO)
  • water to grind

Soak the idli rava and urad dal separately for 5 hours or more. (Preferably over night).  Grind the urad dal after draining the water used for soaking. Grind with minimum water.

Drain the idli rava and mix with the ground urad dal. Consistency of the batter will be similar to a thick cake batter. Allow the batter to ferment, leave it about 8-10 hours. Fermentation time may vary depending on the weather condition. In western India, natural fermentation acts wonderfully, but that may not be the case if you are in cold places. You may need to choose a warm place to keep the batter for fermentation.

After the fermentation, add the salt and fruit salt and mix well. Pour the batter in Idli molds and steam it for about 15 minutes. Again, cooking time may slightly vary depending on the consistency of your batter/size and shape of the mold.

Serve the idlies hot, with coconut chutney and sambar.


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