Friday, March 1, 2013

Idli- Steamed rice and lentil cakes, Vegan and gluten free

Idli is perhaps on of the most famous and staple and of south India. Being a true blue South Indian, I have great love for this dish. I mean, I love this dish so much that I can have it at anytime of the day without complaining. To me Idli is one of those safe foods. As idlies are steamed, anytime, i.e. even when you are sick or anywhere. Yes. Even on the pavement. Now you tell me. What is not to love about this dish.
According to me, my grand mother makes the best Idlies in the whole world. I remember carefully taking down the recipe from her before moving to Dar. I also remember pestering her with all sort of silly questions about fermentation, measurements, etc. Now with all the information, one should be able to conjure perfect idlies right??? Well it as different story all together. There I was trying to impress my husband of few months, with idlies for breakfast and what do I see? No it was definitely not idli. It was just batter that had turned rock hard. I was so disappointed and crestfallen that I was on the verge of tears. I couldn't understand where I had gone wrong.

After that, my quest for that "perfect" idli recipe started. I tried every recipe that I could find on the  net or in books. But each time it turned out bad. I almost gave up making Idlies thinking that, one had to have either a wet grinder or a hand like my grandmother's to make those super soft idlies. It  was at that point that I got this recipe. I was invited for a Tulsi pooja at my friend P's place and she had served Idlies for snacks. They had the same soft, melt in the mouth texture. They tasted just like my grandmother's. I remember asking her if she had a wet grinder and I was pleasantly surprised when she said that she didn't. I asked her for the recipe and she was sweet enough to share it. I had tried it the following weekend and it was a huge hit. From then on, this recipe is keeper. So if you are one of those who is struggling with idlies, then I suggest you give this a try. Chances are, it could be a keeper recipe for you as well.

Idli recipe
Preparation time- almost a day
Cooking time- 20min
Makes- 2-1/2 to 3 dozen idlies

Sona masoori Rice- 300gm or two cups+ 2tbsp
Urad dal or black lentils- 1 cup
Poha or beaten rice- 2tbsp
Salt as per taste
Oil to grease the idli molds or plates

  • Mix the rice along with the poha and the Urad dal with 2 tbsp. of rice and soak the rice and lentils separately in enough water for 4-6hrs.
  • In a grinder or a blender, grind the rice to a coarse paste. The consistency of the ground rice should like fine semolina .
  • Transfer the ground rice from the blender jar to a vessel and keep aside.
  • Next, in the same blender grind the urad dal and rice mixture to a fine paste.
  • Tip the ground lentil paste to the vessel containing the rice mixture and mix well with hand or with a whisk till light and airy.
  • Cover the vessel and set aside in a warm place to ferment for 5-6hrs or overnight.
  • The next morning, add salt to the fermented batter and mix well.
  • Grease the idli plates with some oil and fill the plates with the batter till 3/4th full.
  • Place the idli holder in a pressure cooker and steam bake the idlies for 10-15min or till done.
  • Allow the idlies to cool in the plates for 5min before removing the idlies.
  • Serve hot with ghee, chutney and sambar.
  • Do not place the weight in on the pressure cooker when steam baking the idlies.
  • The consistency of the fermented batter should be such that, that it should thickly coat the back of the spoon. If you feel the batter is thick, then add more water to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Avoid using chlorinated water when soaking the rice and lentils. It retards the fermentation process.
  • If you do not have the idli holder, then you can use small cups as idli molds.


  1. South Indians especially Tamilians cant imagine their breakfast with these fluffy idlies,its been a week i havent prepared Idlies,have to make some soon.

  2. sounds great and will sure try the recipe :)

  3. Irresistible dish!!!Mouth watering clicks!!!

  4. Soft & pillowy idlis...Idlis sure make a healthy & protein rich breakfast!!Nice post, nicely explained :)
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  5. ever green famous recipe.. Love the soft cute idlies

  6. Idly dunked in chutney and sambar is so comforting and I would definitely want this to be my last meal. I have been through the same pain as you until I found the right technique to make the pillowy soft idlis

  7. I love Idli! I only wish that someone would make them for me. :) Looks delicious my friend.

  8. These idlis look to die for. Great to have the recipe. I never made rice and lentil idlis before but made semolina ones in the past!


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