Idlis and I share a love-hate relationship... used to hate them once but I love them now. I always took them for granted because we had 'em for breakfast almost everyday of the week. Never knew how making them wasn't as simple as grinding rice and dhal, mixing, fermenting and steaming... there are quite a few intricacies and tips that i had failed to observe, which resulted in flat, not so soft idlis initially. Over the years, i've learnt: to use the right variety of rice, the importance of the grinding time, how much water to add, methods to facilitate fermentation and so on. Though my idlis are still no match for my paati's (who still uses the whole black urad dal and painstakingly washes them in several changes of water after soaking), I think they are quite good and soft.


Ponni Boiled Rice/Idli Rice - 4 cups (I replace 1 cup of this with rosematta rice)
Whole urad dhal (white) - 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds (methi/vendhayam) - 1 heaped tsp
Salt, to taste (I have a measurement for this but it involves my right hand so not much help to others) :)

1) Soak rice and methi seeds together for atleast 4 hours. Soak Urad dhal separately for about an hour.

2) Drain and Grind Urad dhal (I use an ultra grind and these measurements may not hold good if you are using a mixie) until soft and fluffy (almost 30-40 minutes). I don't add too much water after the initial stage and just a little bit after about 10-15 minutes. You will observe that the batter rises up quite a bit within 20 minutes. Empty this out to a big container (preferably stainless steel).

3) Next, drain and grind the rice and methi mixture for about 20-25 minutes. It'll be slightly grainy to the touch. Grind it for additional time if you want it to be very smooth. The texture of the idlis varies a bit because of this and it's a personal preference. Empty this batter into the same big container used for the urad dhal.

4) Add the required amount of salt and mix both these batters well by hand. The consistency shouldn't be too thick or thin but pourable. Cover and allow to ferment in a warm place for 12 hours or even more during the winter. I put it in the oven, switch on the oven light and keep it on overnight. If it has fermented well, you will see that the batter has risen and looks porous with small bubbles.

5) Refrigerate this for a few hours before pouring into greased idli moulds and steaming them for about 10 minutes.

6) Soft, spongy idlis are now ready to be eaten with Sambhar, Tomato Kurma, Chutney or Milagai Podi.


  1. I always loved Idli but fermenting in Winter is always a problem here even though I use the oven. When it ferments correctly, nothing beats the flavor. Looks great, I have to try red rice, have not used so far!:))

  2. same here...i used to hate idly now i love them..the main problem with me is i have an american blender which is really not that hot for indian cooking..i have to buy a sumeet..which i have been planning for 2 yrs ;)..ur idlies look soo mallipoo :)

  3. I do not like idlis at all, hence it almost never gets made at home;-)
    My mom makes the best idlis but I don't care for those either. I'm a dosa person. Can have it for every single meal.
    Just like Rajitha, I too have an American blender and have been planning to get a Sumeet since I came here!
    So what are you doing over the long weekend? How is A?

  4. Lovely idlis!! Red rice i have not used at all...Will try soon. Fermenting in winter is a pain, i usually put it in the oven & turn on the light in there to create heat... it helps!

  5. Laavanya,
    Since you are using the ultragrind, and adding fenugreek seeds,you could try using rice: urad dal in a 6:1 ratio. This is what I do and one can use less urad dal. The idlis come out fluffy. I do not know if temperature differences affect the fermenting of the the batter at this ratio.
    Happy Holidays, too.

  6. I always loved Idlis. Love to take it with fish curries.Looks great, Laav.

  7. I still am not a big fan of idlis, unless they are supersoft... I haven't mastered the art yet, so thanks for the instructions :)

  8. I love idli but have never thought too long and hard about making them. I am impressed with your dedication. It is Xmas Eve here, and time for me to wish all of my blog friends a wonderful time with family and friends tomorrow. May it be a peaceful and blessed day where we can give a lot of joy to those around us. Have a great day.

  9. I too hate once but now I like :D

  10. Laavanya!! Me n family loves idlis and Noel is ready any time, he loves to eat with spicy podis!! They look supersoft!!!
    Merry christmas n happy new year dear!!

  11. laav..was reading the comments on my blog and realised kutti A was not feeling is she now ?...hope you guys are enjoying ur christmas time off :)

  12. Idlis are not my favorite but i love to have them once in a while...your idlis looks very spongy. :) Fermenting is such an important thing for good idlis, but the winter here makes things so difficult! :)

  13. Love to make idli..but for the winter batter doesn't ferment well.Idli looks good.

  14. They do look fluffy and nice.

    Happy holidays.

  15. Thank you all for your lovely comments. I really appreciate it.

    Rajitha, thanks for asking. A is doing better now but the cold and cough are still there. I may be falling sick now.. have all the symptoms... so it'll be a slow week.

    Also, I would recommend an Ultra-grind over Sumeet. I have the tiny one and is more than sufficient and can grind 4 cups of rice (maybe even more but haven't tried so far). I find that it yields better vadas and idlis when compared to a mixie and doesn't need a lot of space for storage either. Just an fyi for Rajitha and TBC.

    TBC, not much.. met up with friends here and had another family visit us for a day. Will have friends over next weekend too. This week will be some mother-daughter bonding time (since I'm off) or so I hope :)
    How about you? Hope you have a fun time planned.


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