Idli, a popular and healthy South Indian dish, is made from a batter of fermented rice and urad dal (black gram). It is a nutritional powerhouse that is loved by people all over the world. These steamed rice cakes are not only easy to digest but are also a source of essential nutrients. It is a great source of carbohydrates and proteins and is generally considered easy to digest. Making perfect idlis at home can seem daunting, here is a step-by-step guide to make quality idlis at home With the step-by-step manual, you will be able to make fluffy, healthy and mouth-watering idlis that will delight your taste buds.

Essence of Idli

Idli is made from a simple batter of boiled rice, urad dal (black gram) and fenugreek seeds. This combination provides a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and dietary fibre, making idli a wholesome meal for any time of the day.

Preparation Process

Soaking: Begin by washing the rice and urad dal separately until the water runs clear. Soak them with fenugreek seeds for 4-6 hours. Fenugreek seeds aid in fermentation and contribute to the texture of the idli.

Grinding: After soaking, grind the urad dal to a soft and fluffy state. Then, grind the rice until it is fine but still slightly coarse. Mix both the batters together, add salt and mix well.

The Power of Fermentation

The secret behind the airy and soft texture of idli is fermentation. Let the batter ferment for 8-12 hours, during which time it will double in volume and acquire a tangy aroma. The fermentation process breaks down the complex carbohydrates, making the idlis easier to digest and increasing their nutritional value.

Making Puffed Idlis

Greasing molds: Grease the idli molds with little oil to prevent them from sticking.

Steaming: Pour the batter into the mold, leaving some room for the idli to rise. Steam them in an idli steamer or pressure cooker (without weight) for 10-12 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in it comes out clean.

Resting: Allow the idlis to rest for a minute before gently removing them from the molds. A short resting period helps set the texture.


Serve your freshly boiled idlis with a variety of accompaniments:

Coconut Chutney: A classic pairing, coconut chutney provides a cool and tangy contrast to the subtle flavor of the idli.

Sambar: This lentil-based vegetable stew provides a rich and flavourful ingredient that complements idlis beautifully.

Chutney Powder: For those who like a little spice, chutney powder adds an extra layer of flavor to your idlis.


How to make Puffed idlis at Home step by step:

Ingredients required for idlis:

  • 1 cup boiled rice
  • 1/4 cup urad dal
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • salt to taste
  • water for soaking and grinding

Step by step idlis making process:

  1. Soaking:

Wash rice and urad dal separately in water till the water runs clear.

Soak rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds together in water for about 4-6 hours. Fenugreek seeds help in fermentation and provide a nice texture to the idli.

  1. Grinding:

Sieve the soaked rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds.

First grind the urad dal. Add water little by little and grind till the urad dal becomes a smooth and fluffy batter. This may take around 15-20 minutes.

Pour the urad dal batter into a large mixing bowl.

After this grind the soaked rice. Add water gradually and grind till the rice becomes fine but still slightly coarse.

In a mixing bowl, mix the rice batter with the urad dal batter. Add salt and mix well. The mixing process helps in uniform fermentation.

  1. Fermentation:

Cover the mixing bowl with a clean cloth or lid and let the batter ferment in a warm place for about 8-12 hours. The fermentation process is important for the soft and fluffy texture of idlis. When the batter is ready, it should double in volume and have a slightly tangy aroma.

  1. Making Idli:

Once the batter is fermented, stir it slowly to mix up the frozen solids.

Grease the idli mold or plate with some oil.

Fill each mold with the batter, leaving some space for the idlis to rise.

Steam the idlis in an idli steamer or pressure cooker without weight for about 10-12 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center of the idli comes out clean.

Once cooked, let the idlis rest for a minute before removing them from the moulds. Use a spoon to take them out gently.

  1. Serving:

Serve hot and fluffy idlis with coconut chutney, sambar (lentil based vegetable stew) or any other dish of your choice.


Tips and best practices for making idlis at Home:

  • The quality of idli depends on proper fermentation, so make sure the batter gets enough time to ferment.
  • Use parboiled rice for better texture. You can also use regular raw rice or a combination of both.
  • The ratio of rice to urad dal usually ranges from 3:1 to 4:1 depending on personal preference.
  • You can increase or decrease the quantity of fenugreek seeds as per your taste.
  • The water used for grinding should be minimum to avoid runoff of the slurry.

Enjoy your Homemade Idlis with your favorite chutneys or Sambhar!