Idli recipe, Learn to make soft idli batter with rice or rava. Soft idli can be made in 2 ways, one is using rice and the other using idli rava. I am sharing both the methods here. Making idli using rava is a breeze, we don’t need to grind the rice to make the batter. The texture of the idly made using rava also turn out very soft and nice. Idly rava is also called as rice rava in some parts of India.
Idly is one of the healthiest protein packed Breakfasts from South Indian cuisine. These are made with lentils known as DAL & are served with a chutney and or with a tiffin sambar. They are easily digestible as they are prepared with a fermented batter. Fermentation enhances the nutrients and they are still preserved as idly are steam cooked for a short time. This is what makes idly suitable to all including babies to folks on diet and even to the aged, who generally have poor digestion.
Urad dal is high in protein and calcium and it is absorbed by the body better in the form of idly as it is made from fermented batter. Restaurants /Hotels use a ratio of almost 1:4 (dal : rava or rice, as rice is cheaper for them). So I suppose we must favour more dal and less rice/ rava specially for home cooking, as the cost doesn’t matter for home cooked foods as long as they are healthy and nutritious.
This idli recipe does not need too much of rice or rava as it is not a healthy choice and the carbs we need for our body comes even from the urad dal.
When it comes to fermenting, dal contributes more towards the fermentation rather than the rice. So using lesser rava or rice too you can make super soft idly.
My idli batter recipe doesn’t call for using cooked rice as it is not a healthy idea to ferment cooked rice. The traditional recipe which has been followed for generations in South India is to soak the grains, blend, then ferment the batter and steam cook for health benefits. But using already cooked rice to make the idli batter is using stale food and this no more remains healthy. Ayurveda links eating stale rice to many metabolic disorders like thyroid and diabetes. I truly believe this hence sharing this point. To retain the health benefits of idly, it is better not to use cooked rice but use poha/ beaten rice if needed.
This recipe yields super white, soft, light and fluffy idlis.
4 Important factors to making soft idli
(based on my experience), no matter whether you use a wet grinder or a mixer.
1. Age of the dal used for idli recipe: Urad dal from the current years harvest is best suitable to make soft idly. But how do we identify? The current year’s yield will be white in color with no pale yellow shades on it. While the yield from the previous years, will be pale yellow in color or sometimes pale yellow spots on the dal. Using the new dal will surely result in good fermentation and gives you super soft idly provided you take care of the other 3 factors. For folks who are not accessible to fresh stock, other ingredients like fenugreek seeds or poha are used to aid the fermentation.
2. Non-iodized salt for idli recipe: always use enough non iodized salt, avoid iodized salts since it do not favor the fermentation process.
3. Temperature to ferment batter for soft idli recipe: Cold climates do not favor fermentation process. So keep your batter in a warm place. If you live in cold countries or in high altitude places, use a preheated oven for fermenting it.
4. Lastly consistency of soft idli batter (the amount of water to use): For good fermentation, the batter must be of the right consistency. If you make it runny or thin, it will not rise. But the fermentation will be ok, though not perfect. The result will be wet and flat idly. But again, if it does not have enough water in it (very thick batter), it will not ferment. I understand this as “the organisms need enough moisture for a healthy cultivation”. So blending it to a right consistency is important. So the soft idli batter must be of a thick pouring consistency.
Can you refrigerate idli batter?
Yes, It can be refrigerated for 1 to 2 days. After grinding, it must be transferred to separate containers, fermented separately and then refrigerated after fermentation without disturbing it. I usually make the idli batter good enough for 2 days. Then transfer it to 2 different containers and ferment them separately. Use up one the next morning and refrigerate the other as it is without stirring it. For the second day, I use a glass bowl or a corning ware casserole. Plastic or steel containers may make it sour. My idli turns out soft with no sour smell. On the third day, I am left with some batter that is not enough for all of us. So I mix up ragi flour in luke warm water and add it to the left over. I allow it to rest for 30 mins out of the fridge. Even these turn out good.
Idli recipe, Learn to make soft idli
- ½ cup urad dal / skinned black gram
- Non-iodized salt as needed
- cold water as required
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp. idly rava (or 1 cup rice for mixie or 1 ½ cups for wet grinder)
- 2 tbsp. of thick poha / avalakki / attukulu / beaten rice Or ½ tsp. fenugreek seeds
- Wash dal and rava separately multiple times. Soak them in lot of water for at least 5 to 6 hrs. Soak poha for about 2 hrs, if using.
- If using fenugreek seeds, add them to the dal. Soak well.
- After 5 to 6 hours, drain the water.
- Add dal, salt and enough cold water to grinding jar or a wet grinder. If you live in a hot climate then skip adding salt now and add it just before making idli.
- If using poha or methi seeds add them as well to the jar.
- Grind till smooth and frothy. Occasionally scraping off the batter from the sides of the utensil.
- Add very little water when ever needed. If you are using aged dal, it doesn’t get frothy even if it is grinded smooth.
- Transfer this to a large utensil.
- Add rice to the blender with little water and grind little coarsely.
- Drain off the water thoroughly from the rava. Squeeze excess water from the rava with the help of both your palms. Rava must not look soggy. It must absolutely have no water in it, else the batter will become runny.
- Transfer this to the urad dal batter and mix well.
- Now mix everything well. Use your hand to mix as it helps to ferment faster and better. If needed can add little water, if the batter is too thick.
- Set this aside in a warm place for at least 6 to 12 hrs. Sometimes it may take up to 18 hours depending on the weather and temperature. People living in high altitudes and cold climate can keep this in preheated oven. Or oven with the light bulb on.
- On a high flame, bring enough water to boil in an idly steamer or a pressure cooker. Grease your idly plates.
- Mix the batter well, do not over do. Fill the molds with batter.
- When the water begins to bubble and steam up, place the stand in the steamer.
- Cover and steam for exactly 10 mins on a medium high flame.
- After 2 mins, remove the idly stand. Set aside to cool down for 2 to 3 mins.
- With the help of a spoon remove them to a plate.
- Serve idli with a chutney or sambar.
Use stainless steel or ceramic bowls for fermenting.
Never let your batter warm up while grinding, as it will make the idly harder.
How to make soft idli recipe
1. Wash and soak dal for about 5 to 6 hours. If using poha or fenugreek seeds , soak them with dal. Wash rice or rava and soak it separately. If using rava, nicely squeeze the rava and wash to get rid of the unwanted stuff.
2. Drain off the water from the dal and add it to the blender along with salt. If you live in a hot place, then skip adding salt now and add it after fermentation, just before making idli. Add cold water just enough to blend it to smooth. Using cold water prevents the mixer or grinder from turning hot. If the batter turns up hot, idli may turn hard.
2. Add more water as needed and blend till you get frothy thick smooth batter. Transfer this to a large utensil. Do not make it very thin.
3. Transfer this to a large pot.
4. If using rice refer method 2 with detailed step by step photos below. A short description is here as well. Add rice and very little water to the rice and grind coarsely. Pour it to the batter and mix well. Follow from step 6.
If using idly rava: Squeeze off the water by taking rava in between your palms and with pressure try to remove excess water. Transfer this to a plate. Squeeze again any excess water.
5. Add it to the batter. If you are some one who do not like the slight coarse texture of rava, then you can also blend it well. Then add to the urad batter.
6. Mix well with your hands. Keep it aside for fermenting in a warm place for 6 to 12 hours, depending on the climate. It may take up to 18 to 20 hours too sometimes. Do not use air tight jars or containers for fermentation.
7. After fermentation. This time when i made this i had to ferment for about 18 hours as the climate was windy and cold.
8. Gently mix the idli batter, very lightly to make uniform. Sometimes it may be thick at some places and thin in other places. So to get a uniform consistency, I prefer to stir gently only a couple of times. It may shrink when we do this.
9. Bring water to boil in a steamer or pressure cooker without weight on a medium high flame. Grease the idly plates. If needed sprinkle little water, the batter should be of thick pouring consistency. Pour it in the molds.
10. When the water begins to bubble up rapidly, place the idly stand in the steamer. Steam it for 10 minutes. Remember you need to be a bit tricky to adjust the flame. If the flame is very high, the water may bounce to the idly plates. If it is to low, they may not get steamed enough. So the flame should be on a medium high. Off the stove after 10 minutes. Leave it for 2 minutes. Remove the plates from the steamer and allow them to cool for 2 to 3 minutes.
You can also find a collection of 33 South Indian Style chutney recipes.
method 2 – soft idli recipe using rice – step by step photos
If making in wet grinder you can use 3:1 proportion of rice : dal, But it also works with 2:1 prop. Urad dal that is ground in wet grinder turns very fluffy if the dal is from current harvest, hence you can use 3:1 proportion. If making in mixer or blender i suggest using only 2:1 proportion. The step by step photos shown below were made with half cup urad dal and 1 cup rice with 2 tbsp poha.
1. Blend soaked dal,salt and poha adding water as needed until thick and frothy.
2. Blend rice until smooth or coarse to suit your liking. Add water as needed. Batter must be neither too thick nor too thin.
3. Transfer to a pot. Set aside until fermented. The time it takes depends on the climate.
4. After 6 hours, the batter fermented and had a bubbly texture.
5. I greased the plates and poured the it in the plates. Steamed for exactly 6 to 7 minutes in the bubbling steamer. Since i made mini idli steamed for just 6 to 7 minutes else they has to be steamed for 10 minutes. Mini idly go well with idli sambar.