Idli recipe that will help you make the idli of your dreams – soft, chewy and so light.
What is Idli
Idli is a chewy and chewy savory steamed cake made from rice paste and lentils. The lenses used in making idli are urad dal (black gram). Idli is a traditional breakfast cooked in every South Indian household including mine. Idli is popular not only all over India but also outside of India.
Idli is naturally vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan and makes for one of the healthiest breakfasts.
The process of making idli
First, you can create idli in two ways.
- With Idli rice: Traditionally, idli rice and urad dal are used to make idli dough.
Idli rice is half boiled rice and used mainly for making dosa and idli. This recipe article shares the method of making idli with idli rice and plain white rice.
With short grain rice, you can even make idli. My mom makes one of the best idli. Sometimes I also make idli with the customary method of using idli rice only.
Urad dal is also known as black gram, urad bean, and matte black bean. With pods, these lenses appear black due to their black pods. Once the envelopes are removed, they have a creamy ivory color and are also referred to as white lenses.
The urad dal used is whole, preferably unpolished, shelled urad dal. You can even use shelled split urad dal.
2. With Idli Rava: A second easy way is to use idli rava with urad dal. Idli rava is coarsely ground idli rice and is readily available in stores and online.
3. Soaking Rice and Lentils: To make a simple traditional idli, first the rice and urad dal are rinsed in fresh water and soaked separately for 4-5 hours.
4. Quality of rice and urad dal: Be sure to use both rice and urad dal within their shelf life. Always use fresh urad dal and within its shelf life. Old urad dal does not ferment well and makes the idli dense.
5. Grinding: Then the lentils (urad dal) are ground into a soft and chewy dough and the rice to a semi-fine consistency. The two doughs are mixed and left to ferment.
6. Grinding equipment: Pasta grinding can be done in a tabletop wet stone grinder or in a mixer-grinder.
7. Tabletop Stone Crusher: Grinding in a stone crusher is useful if you are making a large amount of idli paste. The advantage of grinding in a stone crusher is that the urad dal paste is ground very well and therefore the idli paste also ferments well.
The amount of water to add in a stone crusher is more than what is added in a mixer mill.
You can add about 1 cup of water for ½ cup of soaked urad dal. Add water in parts, grinding urad dal. For 2 cups of soaked rice, add 1.5 to 2 cups of water.
8. Blender-Grinder: Lentils also grind well in a blender-grinder or heavy-duty blender like Vitamix. For smaller quantities, a mixer-grinder or blender works wonders.
Not everyone has a stone mill. So I shared the detailed method on how to grind dough in a mixer grinder with many suggestions and tips.
I have both a stone crusher and a mixer crusher. For smaller quantities I use the mixer for grinding and for larger quantities I use the stone crusher.
9. Fermentation: Ground lentil paste and rice paste are mixed well. Then the dough is left to ferment overnight or for 8-9 hours or more until the dough doubles or triples in size with a pleasant sour aroma.
10. Steaming: Special pans are used to steam idli. You can buy these pans online. This idli pan is greased with oil. The dough is poured into the pan and then steamed.
11. Steaming time: The steaming time differs from 12 to 15 minutes. Idli should never be over-steamed as it becomes dry and dense.
Tips for fermenting idli dough
Fermentation is a key factor in achieving a smooth, light and mellow idli. For a good fermentation of the idli dough, a hot temperature is suitable. In cold climates, fermentation does not go well. I get a lot of questions on how to ferment idli or dosa paste in winters. So I have briefed my experiences in the following points below:
- Heat: Keep the bowl of idli dough in a warm place, for example near a heater or in a warm place in your kitchen.
- Oven: You can also preheat your oven at low temperature (80 to 90 degrees Celsius) for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then turn off the oven and keep the bowl of dough inside – I use this method when it’s really cold outside.
- Lights in the oven: Alternatively, if your oven has lights, leave the lights on and place the dough inside.
- Sugar: Adding a little sugar helps ferment the dough. So I sometimes use this method during the winters here.
- Salt: During winters, do not add salt to the lazy dough because the salt delays the fermentation process. It is good to use rock salt or sea salt. I always use rock salt in the idli paste.
- Fermentation time in cold winters: In winters, keep the dough longer to ferment, like 14 to 24 hours or more. Remember that even if you don’t see the doubled or tripled dough, you should see tiny bubbles in the dough. You should also get the slight sweet and sour fermented aroma typical of idli dough.
- Instant Yeast: You can even add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of instant yeast (dissolved in 2 to 3 teaspoons of water) 30 to 45 minutes before steaming the idli. But do this method when the dough has not fermented well. The downside to this method is that you have to use all of the dough at once. If you refrigerate it, the dough becomes too leaven and sour.
- Baking soda: You can also add ¼ to ½ baking soda, then ferment the dough during cold seasons.
- Fenugreek seeds: Adding fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) also helps with fermentation.
- Consistency of dough Urad dal: Urad dal must be very well ground. Urad dal dough should be soft, light and chewy. So I suggest grinding both the urad dal and the rice separately to get a soft and chewy idli. A well-ground urad dal dough also helps in fermentation.
- Amount of water: don’t forget to add the correct amount of water to the dough. If the water is less, the idli will become dense.
- Fermentation of idli dough in Instant Pot: During the cold seasons I use the Instant Pot to ferment the dough. Use the yogurt option and use the minus mode. In the IP steel insert place a small trivet. Keep the bowl with the dough on the trivet.
Keep the vent position on vent or you can use Instant Pot’s glass lid. Set the time to 7 to 8 hours. On warmer days the dough will ferment quickly. On colder days, it may take a few hours longer for the dough to ferment in the Instant Pot.
Variations with idli dough
There are many variations you can make with a basic idli dough. You can add lentils like moong dal and form moong dal idli.
Even millets, flattened rice (poha) can be added to the dough. Oats can also be added. Experiment with the proportions and then choose the one that gives you the best idli in terms of texture and taste.
Also Read: Upma Recipe | Rava Upma
Difference between idli paste and dosa paste
Both dosa and idli pasta are made from lentils and rice. Idli paste has a thicker consistency than a dosa paste. To make dosa, the dough is spread over the tava (hot plate) and must therefore have a slightly fluid and spreadable consistency.
- For the idli paste, the ratio to be used is 4: 1 of rice and lentils. From that 4: 1 ratio of idli paste, you can even make dosa. I always use the 4: 1 ratio to create idli. the rice and urad dal proportion is still a controversy. So I suggest experimenting with different types of rice and coming up with your own standard measurements which will give you a perfect idli.
- For dosa, the generally used ratio is 3: 1 for rice and lentils. Also not just to make dosa paste, you can easily use rice like parmal rice, sona masuri or even use idli rava instead of idli rice.
Idli is a breakfast I grew up with. Every weekend, soaking the rice and lentils, then making the idli paste was a regular ritual. Every Sunday I knew we would have hot idli or sweet dosa for breakfast with chutney and sambar.
At first when preparing idli for the first time I encountered some issues. But now after so many years of experience I can do some really good idli and dosa.
For a softer texture, I always add cooked rice or thick poha (flattened rice). This is optional and you can skip it. You can also steam idli in damp muslin.
With this idli dough recipe you can also make crispy dosas. You can use this dough the same day the dough is fermented to make dosas. Or you can do idli on the first day and do dosa or uttapams on the second day. serve the idli hot or warm with sambar and coconut chutney.
How to make Idli
Soak the rice and lentils
1. In a bowl or pot, take 1 cup of parboiled rice and 1 cup of regular rice. Here I used sona masuri rice with parboiled rice. Instead of this proportion, you can also use a total of 2 cups of idli rice OR 2 cups of parboiled rice.
2. Choose and then rinse the two varieties of rice several times. Drain and set aside.
3. Take ¼ cup of thick poha in a bowl.
4. Rinse the poha one or two times with water.
5. Then add the poha to the rice. Add 2 cups of water. mix well and set aside, covered to soak for 4 to 5 hours.
6. Take ½ cup of urad dal with ¼ teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in another bowl.
7. Rinse several times.
8. Add 1 cup of water. For 4 to 5 hours, cover it and let it soak.
Making idli dough
9. Before grinding, drain the urad dal, but do not throw out the water. Reserve the soaked water.
10. In a damp jar, add the urad dal. first add ¼ cup of the reserved water.
11. And grind the urad dal for a few seconds. Then add ¼ cup of water and continue to grind. The dough should be light and fluffy when completely ground.
12: Pour the urad dal paste into a deep saucepan or bowl.
13: Drain the rice and poha and add them to the wet jar. I usually grind in two parts. You can grind in two to three parts depending on the capacity of your mixer-grinder. If the mixer heats up during grinding, stop it and allow it to cool. Then continue with the grinding.
14: Use urad dal filtered water or plain water to grind rice and poha too. add water in parts and grind. The rice can have a fine rava-like consistency in the dough. A smooth paste is also great. While grinding the rice, I usually add a total of ¾ cup of water. The rice dough should not be too thick or too thin.
15: Now pour the rice paste into the bowl containing the urad dal paste.
16. Add 1 teaspoon of rock salt. Mix very well with a spoon or spatula. If you live in a cool or cold area, do not add salt. Add salt later after fermentation is complete. If you live in a hot or hot climate, add salt, as this does not allow the dough to over-ferment for 6-8 hours.
17. Cover the bowl or container with a lid and store the dough in a warm place. It should be left to stand for 8-9 hours. Do not use an airtight cover. In a colder climate, keep the dough longer – 12-24 hours.
18. The dough the next morning. It will ferment and increase in volume.
Idli steamed from idli paste
19. Grease the idli mold with oil. Gently and lightly stir the dough. Don’t overdo it. Now, with a spoon, pour portions of the dough into the greased idli molds.
20. Take your idli steamer or pressure cooker or your electric cooker. Add 2 to 2.5 cups of water and heat the water. store the idli mold in the steamer or pressure cooker. Steam for 12 to 15 minutes. The schedule will vary depending on the type of equipment you used. If you are using a pressure cooker, cover it with its lid. Remove the weight of the vent / whistle from the cover. Steam the idlis for about 12 to 15 minutes.
21. Check doneness by inserting a toothpick. If it does not come out clean, store it for a few more minutes. When finished, remove the idli mold from the stove. Do not overcook as they get dry. Dip a spoon or a butter knife in the water and slide them into the idlis. Remove and place the idlis in a hot container such as a saucepan.
22. Serve Idli hot or warm with coconut chutney and sambar.
How is Idli served
- Idli is served with coconut chutney and sambar. Idli is soaked in sambar and eaten. There are a number of varieties of sambar and coconut chutney that can be made to accompany the idli.
- Idli is also served with idli podi or gunpowder. Idli podi is a powdered condiment made from lentils and spices. If you don’t have time to make sambar, you can just serve idli with coconut chutney and idli podi. Idli can also be served with warm, spicy curd.
Idli leftover ideas
Sometimes there is a surplus or surplus of idli. You can use these idli the same day to make a new recipe or refrigerate them and use them the next day.