Best Soft Idli Recipe (Step-by-step Recipe)

by Rachna

Idli sambar is probably one of the most favourite breakfasts not only in South India but in entire India. I guess idlis and dosas were my first exposure to South Indian food in my childhood. My mum had learned the recipe from a Tamilian aunty and make perfectly soft idlis with sambar and coconut chutney. We really looked forward to those breakfasts. Now I live in Bangalore and love the darshini idli and sambar though I can make pretty good idli at home as well.

soft idli recipe

Why is idli such a favoured breakfast?

Idli sambar with coconut chutney is one of the healthiest and most nutritionally balanced breakfasts around. My personal preference is idly with sambar (in a dip) while my husband needs his chutney with idli. Which ever way you have it this fermented steamed breakfast is super tasty and good for you.

How to make the perfect soft idlis?

Idlis are soft, spongy lentil and rice cakes that are steamed after fermentation. It may seem very simple but there are a few tricks that one must follow in order to get the perfect idlis.

Ratio of urad dal to rice:

I know many people swear by 1:4 ratio of urad dal (split black gram) to rice but I use 1:2 ratio for good nutritionally balanced idlis that have a healthy quantity of urad dal. I use idli rice when I can source it. Otherwise parboiled rice or sona masoori rice works well too. My mother-in-law swears by idli rava because that requires no blending. So you can go with what works for you.

Other tips for soft idlis:

Some people say that they use cooked rice as a quick fermentation aid but I prefer not to use it. I find the idli smelling slightly off when you use it. But you can use poha (or beaten rice) or some fenugreek seeds as a facilitator for fermentation.

Also avoid iodised salt and use natural salts like sea salt or pink/black salt.

To make soft idlis, you need to ferment in a dry, warm place. In winter or in cold climates keep the batter in a warm oven or keep for longer time to ferment the batter well.

Finally for grinding I use the regular blender. If you have a large family, you can try a wet grinder as well.

Now here’s my recipe of soft idli:

Ingredients

1 cup urad dal (split black gram)

2 cups idli rice or parboiled rice

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. fenugreek seeds

OR

4 tbsp. thick poha (or beaten rice)

Some cold water for grinding

Recipe:

Wash and soak urad dal and rice separately in water for about 6 hours.

Soft Idli Recipe

If you are using fenugreek seeds, soak it along with dal. If using beaten poha, soak it separately after washing it.

Now drain the water and blend soaked dal with fenugreek seeds along with some cold water till the dal is completely blended and looks frothy. Don’t make it too runny.

Soft Idli Recipe

Now blend the soaked rice with very little cold water till blended but not too fine. Mix the rice with dal and mix with your hands.

Keep in a warm place to ferment it. Depending upon the weather, It may ferment overnight or may take many more hours. Once fermented, it will almost double in volume.

Steam Idlis:

Heat water in an idly steamer or pressure cooker. Now oil the idli moulds with some oil and put a ladle full of batter in each mould.

Steam for 10 minutes and turn off the gas. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Open and demould.

Your soft, spongy idlis are ready to serve. Have them hot with sambar and chutney.

soft idli recipe

Pro Tips:

  1. Add salt to the idli batter only after fermentation. That way your batter will not taste sour.
  2. Use cold water for blending your dal and rice so that your idlis do not become too dense.
  3. You can pack the idlis for lunchbox, have them for lunch or dinner. They are very tasty and satisfying.
  4. If you want you can use more rice in the recipe. The consistency of your idli will be slightly different.
  5. Use steel containers for fermenting your idli batter.
  6. This idli batter can be stored for a couple of days after which it gets very sour.
  7. I generally make dosas with the same batter by diluting it with water and mixing it. You can also make these tasty paddus with leftover batter.
soft idli recipe

How to Make Soft Idlis (Step-by-step Recipe)

Rachna Parmar
Idlis are a favoured Indian breakfast that is delicious, healthy and very nutritious. I have shared tips in this post to make superb soft spongy idlis at home.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Soaking time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 20 mins
Course Breakfast | Snack
Cuisine South Indian
Servings 20
Calories 110 kcal

Equipment

  • Pressure cooker

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup urad dal
  • 2 cups idli rice or parboiled rice
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • OR
  • 4 tbsp. thick poha or beaten rice
  • Some cold water for grinding

Instructions
 

  • Wash and soak urad dal and rice separately in water for about 6 hours.
  • If you are using fenugreek seeds, soak it along with dal. If using beaten poha, soak it separately after washing it.
  • Now drain the water and blend soaked dal with fenugreek seeds along with some cold water till the dal is completely blended and looks frothy. Don’t make it too runny.
  • Now blend the soaked rice with very little cold water till blended but not too fine.
  • Mix the rice with dal and mix with your hands.
  • Keep in a warm place to ferment it. Depending upon the weather, It may ferment overnight or may take many more hours.
  • Once fermented, it will almost double in volume.
  • Gently stir but not too much else all the air will go out from the batter.

Steam Idlis:

  • Heat water in an idly steamer or pressure cooker. Now oil the idli moulds with some oil and put a ladle full of batter in each mould.
  • Steam for 10 minutes and turn off the gas.
  • Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Open and demould.
  • Your soft, spongy idlis are ready to serve. Have them hot with sambar and chutney.

Notes

  1. Add salt to the idli batter only after fermentation. That way your batter will not taste sour.
  2. Use cold water for blending your dal and rice so that your idlis do not become too dense.
  3. You can pack the idlis for lunchbox, have them for lunch or dinner. They are very tasty and satisfying.
  4. If you want you can use more rice in the recipe. The consistency of your idli will be slightly different.
  5. Use steel containers for fermenting your idli batter.
  6. This idli batter can be stored for a couple of days after which it gets very sour.
  7. I generally make dosas with the same batter by diluting it with water and mixing it. You can also make these tasty paddus with leftover batter.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
How to Make Soft Idlis (Step-by-step Recipe)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 110 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 97mg4%
Potassium 27mg1%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 12mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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