Monday, September 7, 2009

How to make spongy idlys/idlis

idli recipe Idly with coconut chutney

How to make spongy Idlis/idlys

I am posting this recipe "How to make spongy idlis" only for novice to kitchen.Idly has occupied a very important place as breakfast in all South Indian homes. It can be called the queen of breakfast. It is a very healthy dish as it is fermented and steamed cooked.Idlis have been considered one of the top ten most healthiest foods in the world. (source Wikipedia)

Ingredients needed

Par Boiled Idly rice -3 tumblers or 3 cups ((Pulungal Arisi meant for making idli)

Urad dal (whole urad dal/mulu ulundu) -1 tumbler or 1 cup

You can use any cup for measurement but the ratio of par boiled rice and urad dal should be 3:1 or 4:1 (ie 4 cups idly par boiled rice and 1 cup urad dal). Both measurements works well.

Crystal Salt - 4 - 4 1/2 tsp (or as required)


Wash urad dal and rice and soak it separately for 4-5 hours.

Grind urad dal in the wet grinder (advisable for soft idlies) until fluffy. Add ice cold water/ordinary water when needed. Add water little at a time.

Transfer it to a container.

Then grind rice well for 20-30 minutes.

After that add the ground urad dal to the ground rice in the grinder and grind for another 5 minutes.This is done for mixing the batter well.

Add salt to the batter and mix well with your hands.

The consistency of the batter should neither be thick nor watery. It should be medium. You can master it with practice.

Transfer the batter to 2 containers. It should be filled only up to 3/4 th, so as to allow space for fermenting.

Leave it for 6-7 hours in a warm place undisturbed to ferment. You could see that the batter would have risen after 7 hours.

If you are not using it immedietely, refrigerate it .

For making spongy idlis

Mix the fermented batter well. (Some advise not to mix it but I mix it well )

Grease idly moulds. Take a scoop of batter and fill it in each idly mould.

Use pressure cooker or any vessel and steam cook the idlis. But the water should be heated well first.

Boil water in a kadai/pressure cooker/any vessel which could hold the idli moulds and place the idly mould with batter in it and cover it with a lid.

Steam cook for 10 -15 minutes.

Prick a fork inside the idly, if it comes out clean - idly is ready .

Have it with any chutney or sambar or milagai podi.

Note -The quality of rice and dal is important to make spongy idlis.

If the idly is hard
  • The consistency of the batter might be thick.
  • the quality of the dal might be poor.
  • The batter would not have been properly fermented.

    If the idly is too flat or thin
  • the consistency of the batter might be watery or thin.
  • the quality of urad dal might be excellent.In that case slightly reduce the amount of urad dal while soaking the next time.
  • The batter would not have been fermented.
So with trial and error and practice, anybody can make spongy idlis. Check out my more detailed post on Soft Idli Secrets 

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  1. I can eat idlis for all the meals, without any problem;
    though my favourite combinations are with sambhar and coconut chutney, sometimes, I love to eat idlis pre-soaked in a mixture of podi and nalennai (sesame oil) yummmm, it's delicious!!

    and thanks for the visit and the comment; thankfully I found yours; nice collection of recipes you've got here!!!

  2. Often i do mistakes in the batter preparation...thanks for ur useful post n for ur visit...have a g8 time:)

  3. I have never made idlis from scratch always from readymade batter so now will definitely try with your tips!

  4. VEry apt instructions for novices-you could even call this post 'idlis for dummies'.(No offence meant.)

  5. Do we use cooked idli rice or uncooked rice?
    Your dosa recipes say just rice, no mention of being cooked.
    Btw, great blog! Love the simplicity with which you write, and the beautifully captured pictures.

  6. We do not use cooked rice but uncooked parboiled rice meant for making idly. (Pulungal Arisi meant for making idli)
    In dosa recipe - Just rice means uncooked rice only

  7. I use the following method. 4 cups of idly rice one cup of urdu dhall and 1/2 cup of thick poha
    I mix idly rice and poha together and urdu dhall separately. Grind in the wet grinder nicely. I set the temp in the oven at 400deg. and once it is reached switch off. Keep the batter over night and you can see how the batter has risen. Mix well and make idly. You will see how soft it is.

  8. I liked your website giving so many Indian recipes. Since you stress on Healthy dishes, your recipes and dishes can be more useful if you provide some Nutrition information with the recipe. The Nutrition information in terms of Protein, Carbo, Fats, other important nutrients, and Calories per 100 gm would be very useful.This type of info. for Indian dishes is hard to find.

  9. Wow!!! I really liked your website.

  10. Hi, I use 4:1 ratio of rice to urad dhal and follow your instructions. Idlis are soft on the first day but second day it comes out hard. Any help/suggestions please?

  11. I get very soft idlis for 2-3 days .You have to divide the batter into 2 equal part , ferment both and put one in the refrigerator .You can make idlis once from the first batch and then again the next day from the second batch. Take it out from the fridge 1 hours before making idlis .After 2 days , you can use the remaining batter to make dosa or uthappams.Also check out my Soft idli secrets and idli batter for more detailed explanation.

  12. My idlis are always flat......I use 1:3 proportion, 1 parboiled rice and 2 long grain india it come perfect but not in uk, I got my mom in law to try as well. I shall give one last try with parboiled rice only. I use the same batter for dosa.......I assume it will be too soft for dosa. You have a nice collection and I am sure I have referred to this site for some recipes in the past. Thanks and well done.

  13. is there any substitute for parboiled idly rice?

    Can i use 2 cups basmati rice and one cup cooked boiled rice.

  14. Dear Vikrant
    Sorry for the delay in replying to you.I had connectivity problem. Ok Coming to your question- You can make dosas with any rice but I doubt if you can make idlis.Parboiled rice is a very important ingredient for making soft idlis.

  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. I followed your recipe 100%, but the cooked idli's has a bad taste of urad dal.
    What could be the reason

  17. Dear Shuchi
    There is no problem with the recipe as I am following it for the past 14 years.Many have tried it and were happy with the results. It may me because of the quality of urad dal.Next time try reducing the quantity of urad dal a little or try changing the brand.Find a more detailed post on preparing soft and delicious idly

  18. it was interesting to browse through your blog and be amazed with the recipes that you have. just one request if you could share recipes of typical south Indian chutneys.

  19. hi nice blog....i needed to know should the vessels be covered or open during Fermentation....

  20. Thank Afreen for your appreciations. You should keep it covered.

  21. Hi Padhu, the information is very useful for beginners like me . Which grinder do you use. Can you suggest me one from Ultra 2 stone or Butterfly 1 stone ?

  22. Rani -I am using ultra 2 stone grinder for more than 10 years.(no problem with it).Also check out my more detailed post on soft idlis

  23. Ma'am, I'm a home science student & plan 2 make these 4 my cooking practicals at school. can u plz tell me how i hould pack the fermented mixture while carrying it 2 school? (there'll b a min. of 3hrs difference from taking dat out of refridgerator and starting the cooking.
    also, could i do anything 2 fasten the cooking, or proceed a bit more at home?

  24. Pack fermented batter in an eversilver container or a plastic container with lid. If you want the idli to cook faster, first bring water to boiling point, then pour idle batter in the mould, cover and cook.

  25. Hi The idli was soft when hot but when it became cold it became hard can u tell me why this happened

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. Indira - First you have to grind the batter well. Second you must use fresh urad dal and not old stock. Check out more detailed explanation on
    How to make soft idlis

  28. hello padhu, i am kiruba... i like ur receips very much & am the fan of ur site. i hav a doubt I use 4:1 ratio for batter,i.e., 4 tumblers par boiled rice and 1 urad dal but its not fermenting as well and idles are also flat always.. could u plz tell me wat is the mistake.. thank u.

  29. Kiruba - Thank you for liking my recipes. The ratio of rice and urad dal is correct. I have given you the reason above for flat idlys. Kindly read that. Use idli par boiled rice. If you are you living in a place where the climate is very cold, keep the batter in a warm place for it to ferment.Also check out this more detailed post on soft idlis

  30. Hi Padhu, I was searching for how to make compost at home...your blog gave me a good detail about it thank u so much.

  31. Hi Padhu, ur search is superb...any recipe search and google takes to ur website....good work ! However I try my idlis dont come out soft....I also use a wet grinder....I use 3/4 tumbler gola udid and 2 1/2 tumbler idli rice in which 1/2 tumbler is raw rice so that I can make dosa as well....u said abt ponni rice but is it raw or boiled as here in bangalore where I live ponni boiled is available...I dont know where I am wrong.

    1. Try 4 cups Idli par boiled rice and 1 cups whole urad dal. You must use only par boiled idly rice. You can make dosa also in that batter.Check out this even more detailed post on soft idlis

  32. Is there a brand that sells deep idli plates? My idli plates are shallow and the bottom of the upper idlis mess up the top layer of the bottom idlis. Thank you.

  33. Hi mam when i tried to prepare idly in pressure cooker idly was not cooked properly and after removing idly container i saw that water on the pressure cooker was cook idly properly shoyld i pour more water in pressure cooker.please suggest me what to do

    1. Yes, you should pour enough water. When the water starts boiling, pour the batter in idli mold, close and steam in medium heat. It will take around 10-15 minutes.

    2. Hi Padhu, very nice site! Have question- when you say crystal salt do you mean the normal salt or some special salt? Would you know where the crystal salt would be available if it is different than normal salt? thanks in advance.

    3. Thank you for liking my site. Sorry for the delay in replying to you as I was away on a vacation. Crystal salt or rock salt is kal uppu in tamil. You can use normal salt also but use less.


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