Anu's Kitchen Healthy breakfast recipe

Soft Idlis

One can never miss Idli and Dosa at a South Indian’s home! Idli and Dosa are our staple breakfast recipes. There may even appear in the dinner menu too. Growing up I never liked idli! I loved to eat Dosa (rice flour crepes) for all 3 meals of the day. My mom made awesome idlis but just that I never liked them. My love for this fluffy beauties arose when I started to cook :mrgreen: Yes! This is one of the easiest yet wholesome breakfast recipe that one could make in a jiffy! These days I do make idlis more often. While they get cooked, which would be 13-15 minutes, I would finish making the side dish (chutney/sambar). On the whole all I would spend is just 15-20 minutes in the kitchen! Awesome rite? 😉

Each family would have their own idli recipe. Its basically the proportion in which rice and dal are used that decides the softness of the idlis. My mom uses 3 cups of idli rice with 1 cup of dal. This combination works for both idli and dosa. My neighbour aunty grinds idli batter with 3 cups of rice and 1/2 dal along with 1 tsp fenugreek seeds. One thing I have noticed is that we add more rice than dal. While I was looking for some recipe on the net, I landed on Murugan Idli Kadai’s web page. For all those who wonder what it is – Murugan Idli kadai is a famous restaurant known for their signature idli and other breakfast recipes. Believe me they have published their secret recipes on the net!! I could hardly believe my eyes! As much as I drool at the restaurant’s menu, I never thought I could get their traditional recipes to try out at home.

I tried their idli recipe the very next day and it came out really rice. DH named them as  “Malligai poo” idlis(Jasmine flower/mallige poovu)

Soft Idli recipe
Soft Idlis with chutney and milagai podi

What kind of rice do we use to make soft idlis: You can find “Idli rice/Idli arisi” in Indian stores. I use ponni idli rice. This variety gives fluffy soft idlis.

Should we use whole urad or broken ones: Use whole urad dal (de skinned ones). They are also called gota urad dal.

Do we need a wet grinder or can mixie be used to grind idli batter: I absolutely love having wet grinder. I brought both grinder and mixie when I came to US. Honestly grinder would be a best bet. Don’t worry if you don’t have one! Mixie does a pretty decent job as well. Many of my friends use ice cold water to grind the batter in mixie. I have used mixie to grind idli batter and liked it too!

Can a blender be used instead of mixie (from India): This is little tricky. Frankly I have never tried grinding idli batter in blender. But have heard from friends/relatives that it is not as good as having an Indian mixie.

How long does it take for the batter to get fermented: About 12-18 hours. But in cold climates, it could take even longer.

How to ferment the batter in winter: I live in Chicago and winter here is brutally cold! I usually grind the batter in the evening. I allow it to ferment for 24-36 hours. (Almost one full day). Here is an age old trick followed by all the “desis” living in cold countries to ferment idli batter. As soon as you grind the batter, transfer it to an oven safe bowl and leave the batter in the oven for overnight. Make to sure to turn on the oven light too.

Murugan Idli kadai soft idli
Murugan Idli kadai soft idli

Recipe Source:
Time Taken:
To Soak: 6-8 hrs
To Ferment: 12-18 hrs
To Prepare: 10 mins
To Cook: 13-15 mins

Idly rice: 2 cups
Urad dal: 1 cup
Cooked rice: 1/2 cup
Fenugreek seeds: 1/2 tsp
Salt: to taste

Murugan Idli kadai soft idli recipe
Murugan Idli kadai soft idli recipe

Preparation Method:

Idli batter recipe

  • Wash and clean dal and rice
  • Soak dal, rice and fenugreek seeds in water for 6-8 hrs.
  • Grind the dal (with the water used for soaking it)  into fine paste. It should be frothy and thick.
  • Transfer it to a tall vessel.
  • Now grind soaked rice and fenugreek seeds along with the cooked rice.
  • Add water as necessary.
  • The batter should not very thick and not too watery.
  • Mix it with ground urad dal.
  • Add salt and mix thoroughly.
  • Allow it to ferment for 12-18 hrs.

To cook fluffy soft idlis

  • Grease the idli mould with little cooking oil (preferably gingelly/sesame oil)
  • Pour the batter in the mould and cook it for 13-15 minutes.
  • Do not cook the idlis for more than 15 mins, else they would turn hard.

To cook idli in pressure cooker

  • If you do not have idli cooker, then you can use idli mould in normal pressure cooker too.
  • Do not put the whistle and cook the idlis for 12-15 minutes.

To serve the idlis

  • After you swtich off the stove, wait for 3-5 mins and then open the cooker and remove the idlis.
  • Serve yummy idlis with chutney/sambar or milagai podi.

Share & Enjoy! -

37 replies on “Soft Idlis”

When the batter is left to ferment, should the bowl be covered with a tight lid, left open, or loosely covered ?
None of the recipes online say what should be done ?

Do not use tight lid. The bowl should be loosely covered. If the bowl doesn’t have enough room for the batter to rise, then the batter may even push the lid and overflow. Keep a plate/tray below the bowl to catch the mess (just in case)

Awesome info about idlies:).I get in lot if trouble because my batter does not ferment.
I keep it In oven with the light on but ferments Ina hap-hazard way. Also the color of
the idli is not pure white. Mybatter ratio is – 2 idli rice:2 raw rice:1 urad dal: 1 tbsp methi seeds.
Can you add eno to the batter for the fermentation to be quick??

Thanks Jayanthi 🙂

I use the same proportion that you have mentioned (4 cup rice: 1 cup urad dal + 1 tsp methi seeds) for making DOSA! For idlis it is better if you add more dal. This recipe (given above) uses 2 cups rice + 1 cup dal. Since we use more dal, we get the super soft/ fluffy texture.

I understand that you use 1 tbsp (tablespoon) of methi seeds. Hope it is not a typo..! I use 1 tsp (tea spoon) of methi seeds. Methi seeds ground with rice and dal may give slight brown color! Try less methi seeds next time. I tsp is more than enough for “jasmine -like” idlis 🙂

Regarding fermentation :- Do you add salt soon after grinding the batter? Adding salt aids the fermentation. Do you use laddle/spoon to mix batter with salt? Use your hands to mix the batter. Many cooks say that using your hands to mix idli or dasa batter with salt and then allowing to ferment improves the yeast growth and results in proper fermentation.

It takes time, roughly 12 -16 hrs for the batter to ferment. If you live in cold climates, it may take even longer.

What is “eno”? Are you taking about the antacid? Am sorry I dont know about that. I have never heard of adding antacid to idli batter!

Oh thanks for the lovely tips:).didn’t know salt can do wonders too.
I do use my hands to mix but I guess salt and a tsp of methi seeds will
do the trick:).
Eno is like soda. Usually advertised as a solution for acidity. Since it has
soda wanted to know if it helps in fermentation .
Also just a quickie: by cooked rice you really mean freshly cooked rice?

Glad you liked the tips 🙂

Yes, add a handful of cooked rice while grinding the idli batter. It need not be parboiled/idli rice. Just the one which we normally use to make rice at home. I usually grind the batter in evening so I use the rice leftover from morning. Hope this helps!

Hi ,
you have mentioned about the cooked rice to be added while grinding……cooked rice means is it idli rice or raw rice cooked.Want to try out your idlies….hope to hear a reply soon.

Hi Sandhya,

By cooked rice I mean the regular rice that you use for everyday cooking. Not idli rice. Say you grind the batter in the evening and you have some leftover rice from the lunch menu, just add an handful of that while grinding the idli batter.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy the super soft idlis 🙂

Thank you so much….was worried because i use raw rice for eating so i thought have to put the cooked boiled rice…..i hopt my idlis come out well…….will be in touch for more lovely receipes from you….


Hi nice idlis and lovely pics. I usually make idlis with out methis seeds. I use Boiled Rice -2 cups,Raw rice – 1 cup,Urad dal – 1 cup + 1 pidi and once the batter is ground to that batter add 1tsp of sodium bicorbonate, salt and mix it with hands. i used 2 cups aval/poha which makes idli soft and even the dosas come super with this batter. Please dont use eno for fermentation. When you use eno to your batter immedietly use should mix the batter and cook. when you make rava idli you dont ferment the batter so at that time you are making, eno is mixed to the batter and when it is frothy immedietly put into moulds and cook. As you said u live in a cold place after 6 hours still the batter didnt ferment you can nicely mix the batter one more time with your hands and let is rest. It will rise nicely. Hands has the trick and helps in better fermentation…:)

Hi Vasini,

Thanks for the lovely comment and useful tips! 🙂 yes u r right about eno. I never use it. I add poha to dosa batter too!! I will try ur proportions for idli and will let you know. Thanks for visiting my blog 🙂

I used your proportion for making idli, it came out very soft, thanks for wonderful tips.

Tried this recipe. Amazing and soft idlis! Cooked rice does make a difference. This has become a regular at home. I simply love the soft feeling when digging into my idlis. I love the Malli Poo or Mallige idli as it is called in Karnataka. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

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