Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Idli-Soft Idlis-Idli Batter Recipe-Soft Idli Tips

Idli is one of my specialty dish and also my most favorite breakfast dish. It is South India's most popular breakfast and also a very healthy dish.My family members and many of my relatives love my soft idlis and I have many fans for it. In fact my daughter used to tease me saying that after retirement you can open an idli shop. My late father is a big fan of my idli and will ask me for it whenever he comes and stays with me.Though I have already posted how to make idli, I wanted to give my readers a few more tips on how to make soft idli and idli batter recipe. This is also a special post for all my North Indian friends out there.

How to make soft idli-idli recipeBefore sharing with you tips on how to make soft idly, let me give the idli batter measurement

I have given two measurements below. I have tried both several times and my idli/idlys turn out very well with both the measurements.

Idli Batter Recipe (for soft idly)

Recipe- 1

Par Boiled Idli rice - 3 cups (Idli Pulungal Arisi)

Urad dal - 1 cup (Mulu Ulundu or whole urad dal without skin)

Crystal Salt - I use only crystal salt (1 1/2 tbsp or as required)

Recipe - 2

Par Boiled Idli rice -4 cups (Idli Pulungal Arisi)

Whole Urad dal - 1 cup (whole urad dal without skin)

Crystal salt - as required

What special ingredient do I add to make my idli soft? The answer is nothing. I do not use baking soda or cooked rice or fenugreek or poha or eno, then how do I manage to get soft idli ? Read further and find out-


The quality of the rice and the urad dal is very important. You get par boiled rice specially for making idli known as Idli Pulungal Arisi in tamil.

The quality of the dal is very important. I use full urad dal without the black skin. I never stock urad dal but will buy only what I need for a month. Do not use old stock or low quality dal or split urad dal which we use for seasoning.

2. Soaking:

Just as quality is important, soaking time is also equally important. Wash and soak rice and dal for 5- 6 hours.

Idli recipe3. Grinding:

I personally, always prefer to use wet grinder for grinding batter for idli and dosa. The secret to soft idli lies in grinding and the consistency of the batter.

idli batter-soft idli batter
First grind the urad dal well until it is light and fluffy. After switching on the grinder, do not forget about it. Check now and then and add water little by little to the batter (you can use ice cold water if needed).

I usually grind urad dal for about 40 minutes. Then remove the ground dal from the grinder. The urad dal batter should not be sticky but light and fluffy.

Then add the soaked rice along with little water. You should not add too much water in the beginning itself.You have to add water little by little, while it grinds. Grind rice to a smooth paste.

Then add the ground urad dal to the ground rice and grind for another 5 minutes so that it gets mixed well.

Remove the batter from the grinder, add salt and mix well with your hands. Fill only up to half in a container leaving room for it to raise while fermenting.

4.Consistency of batter:
Just as grinding is important, the consistency of the batter is also equally important.If your batter is too thin, the your idli will turn flat.

If your batter is thick, then your idli will be rock hard. So take care when adding water while grinding. That is the reason why you should add water little by little by checking the consistency.

5. Fermenting:

You must give at least 6-7 hours for the batter to ferment.This duration may vary depending on the climatic conditions. In winter it may need longer time and in peak summer it may require less time. The batter would have raised nicely, if it has fermented well. Look at the first picture (collage). I filled only till half and the next day it has risen well. I usually grind in the evening and leave it overnight to ferment.

Mix the fermented batter well. Now it is ready for making idli. If you are not going to use immediately, refrigerate the batter.


You can use an idli pot or a streamer or a kadai or a pressure cooker without weight for steaming.

You can use any heavy bottomed vessel with a lid which can fit your idli moulds perfectly.

The important point to be noted here is to bring the water to boiling point before steaming the idlis.

I place a damp muslin cloth on the idli mould , then scoop out a ladle of batter and fill in the idly moulds, then close it with a lid.You can even grease your idli mould with oil but I usually prefer the first method for the lovely texture.

Steam for 10-12 minutes. Insert a fork in the middle, if it comes out clean, then your idli is done. Invert the mould on a plate and gently remove the mould. Sprinkle water on the cloth and gently separate the cloth from the idlis.

Serve hot with any chutney or sambar or just idli podi and gingerly oil.

Check out Side dish of idli, dosa for more recipes.

You can make idli for the first two days, use the remaining left over batter to make dosa. Check out my Dosa recipe

Wow! Look at the texture - so soft and spongy that it melted in our mouth.

Soft Idli-Idli with chutney
To summarise, the trick in making soft idlis lies in the above 6 tips. The above factors play a great role in influencing the quality of your idli.

If you do not get perfect idli,then do not loose heart or give up, with trial and error, you can master the art of making soft and spongy idlis.

I feel so happy in sharing with you all my soft idli secrets. Good Luck!!


  1. Idlee have been my fav. ever since like forever ! They sometimes are soft and sometimes hard..now I can try to make them sfter always..

    Glad to have found you at indiblogger. Your newest follower and a regular visitor now.

  2. Thank you very much I was struggling struggling for a soft Idly. I will make prepare and come back with my family's comments

  3. Love soft idlis piping hot!i add a lil bit of methi seeds along with the urad dal and soak them ...

  4. Perfect.I have a company in you for exactly the same method.No adding Methi,Poha or Soda.Long live the Soft Idlis!!!!!

  5. WOW! IDLI LOOKS REALLY SOFTO SOFT.I always use the same way as you said in recipe 2.I loveeeeeeeeeeeee Idlies very much.

  6. Perfect !! Superb description and am sure it will help many as nothing can beat idli :)

  7. awesome!!thanks for sharing such a detailed and informative post...I make idlis with split urad daal and add normal salt..your idlis look super soft..will try your version now..

  8. a very detailed & helpful post, next time im gonna try using a cloth instead of greasing the mould

  9. last pic craving for some idlis padhu..delecious

  10. Dear padhu,
    Iam your new subscriber and am happy to be apart of your blog. I accidentally happened to lay hands on your blog and I instantly liked it I have already tried some of your kuzambu and rice varieties and they came out very well.thanks a lot. Honestly, I must admit that your are a creative person which is evident from your skills and colourful display of the dishes. That's great,indeed. Once again thanks a lot for the recipes.

  11. Dear Padhu
    Thank you very much for the soft idly recipe.I forwarded the same to my daughter,who is recently married and is in USA.I told her many times to make idly,but she told me that she doesn't know
    the consistency.(She never entered in kitchen before marriage)when I sent this recipe she prepared as per your instruction.She told me it has come out very well.thank you once again

  12. I have never seen anyone explaining the recipe to get successful soft idlis like you have done here. Great work on that !!!! myself being a child nutritionist, i found this site accidentally looking for good nutritional breakfast ideas and instantly liked your varieties. In my meal plan to all my clients i will be including your site for lots of ideas for moms intending to give nutritious meal to their family. Keep it up and keep us all posted with interesting recipes.

  13. Thanks for the tips; However the batter that i make with recipe as given above gives out good idlis for 2 days or so and after that the idlis come out rockhard. do you have any suggestion on this ?

  14. Dear Dowlath
    I have written that you can make idlis only for 2 days with the above measurements.You can use the rest of the batter for making dosas or uthappams.As the batter will start becoming sour, you cannot make idly after 2 or 3 days with that batter.

  15. Hi Can I use the same Idli Mixture for Preparing Paniyarams... ?

  16. Dear Hema
    We can make kuzhi paniyaram with leftover idli batter.


  18. Hi Padhu,

    In last pic we can see red chuttany with idli.

    what is this? pls describe the recipe and also pudi powder.
    Thanks In Advance


  19. Hello Padhu,
    In last pic we can see idli and chutney...so what type of chutney that one? would u like to share that chutney recipe for idli? And also i want to know about pudi powder recipe ...

    thanks in advance


  20. One more addition and the recipe will be as precise as pharmacy instructions. How many cups of water should go to grinding the dal, the rice and the final blend. This will help to reduce the possibility of flat and hard texture

    Ravi Krishnappa

  21. I have the same question as Ravi Krishnappa, alternatively can you upload a video, so that we can observe how exactly the texture will look like and when to add water and how much.


  22. One major issue I have in making soft idlis is not related to any of the above tips but actually lies in my hands (the yeast in the hand which leads to fermentation of the batter) which I discovered and no site mentions about this aspect. I use exactly the same procedure and measurements my MIL uses, but if she grinds the same and mixes with her hands, the batter ferments well and raises to double height and the Idlis become super soft. If the same batter I mix with my hand the batter refuse to ferment and remains flat (not even a centimeter change in terms of raising), I just didn't understnad why is it so and realised the secret lies in the hand which mixes the batter. My hand absolutely lacks the necessary ingredient (I think bacteria/yeast whatever is responsible for fermentation). And this is one major important aspect for soft idlis.

    So I tried adding little poha, sour curd etc, but without much success, I heard Indians in USA/cold countries use Eno for fermentation (I am yet to try this), else due to freezing weather, the batter doesn't ferment.

    I tried keeping the batter under little warmer condition in rice cooker after grinding but not much success. My failure rate to make the batter ferment is very high and I will appreciate tips from anyone who can help in this regard.

    Any tips to overcome the MAGIC HAND requirement ????

    1. This question was asked long back. Here is my experience in US. We lived in a house which had water from boar well. Idli/Dosa batter will not ferment even after 2 days! Now we moved to another house and water is different. Now Idli batter ferments by next day. So using water with no ammonia in it helps a lot in the fermentation process.

  23. Excellent tips for Idli making. I also found that Idli dough fluffs better when done in wet grinder rather than Mixi. Lately since waeather in LA area above remains 90F, dough fluffs good double overnight, otherwise in cold days it takes more than two nights. First time heard that salt is added after the dough is made rather than after being fluffed.

  24. i love idlis but never made them, thanks for sharing the recipe.. i like your blog and following you! have a look at my blog and if it interests you then pls join me at

  25. Thanks for sharing idli recipe. Looks yummy. I will for surely try this.

  26. @ Kousalya - U can preheat the oven for a minute and leave the batter overnight in the oven. Hope this tip helps.

  27. My Mom and Ammaachi make ultra soft Idlies... Here's the secret. They soak soya beans (available exclusively for idlies) for 8 hrs or overnight. Peal off the skin and grind separately. Mix along with rice and dal.

  28. I had a south Indian maid for last two years and now she left....so a big question was who vill make spongy idlis...now i,ll try this.Thanks

  29. Hi Swetha Singh
    There are 4-5 tomato chutney varieties
    I will just give one instant chutney link


    Rest you will find it in chutney varieties

  30. Very good method.Our company name is barade fluffies and we are the idli suppliers for hotels,canteens,companies,functions,etc,. our idli is very famous in maraimalai nagar,chennai area.every body ask to me what is your soft idli secret?on that time i say ,like your answer that is 'nothing'.Actually same like your process we prepare 25000 idlis per day.thank you ...

  31. I am yet to find a good recipe for Udipi type sambar (that you normally get in small restaurants in Bangalore).
    Would you have one?

  32. Great method and recipe - thank you. But any chance you can add some detailed steps to the "dough should be light and fluffy" in 40 mins? as in - details on what it will be like in 10 mins then what in 20 mins etc. So I can keep track of what light and fluffy could be, what watery could be or what sticky could be? I am sure once you get it right once, it can be repeated, but its the minor details in steps that can help achieve that goal :) thank you much!

  33. Hi..i have problem in making idli and dosa. I am living in USA. I use 4 cups of sona rice with 2 cups of urad dal with fenucreek little bit. I soak rice and urad dal 2 hours, then i grind in mixi ( only having mixi ). Next day the battter gets fermented but the idli is very hard and half-boiled. Also dosa is also half-boiled and very hard to eat. Any suggestions can you give

  34. Hi Kala
    Happy New Year to you. I read your comment.

    1. The ratio of rice : whole urad dal can be 3:1 or 4:1 Why you are using 2 cups urad dal.

    2. You can soak rice and urad dal for more than 2 hours.(at least 4-5 hours)

    3.Wet grinder is best for making idli and dosa.It is ok if you do not have it. Grind the urad dal until it becomes fluffy.Keep on adding water inbetween while grinding and grind well. The urad dal batter should be light and fluffy and not sticky.

    4. If the final batter is very thick,then your idli and dosa will be hard. If it is watery ,the idlis will be flat. So you must not add too much water nor very less water.

    5. Also if you have kept the batter in the refrigerator after fermenting, bring it to room temperature before making dosa.

    Also read my another post on How to make dosa
    and Idli recipe
    so that you will have more idea.

    Hope this helps you.

  35. can i use sona masoori rice for making idli,dosa?in what way i have to prepare batter for idli,dosa i am asking about batter should be nice or in any way? plz tell

  36. idlis are the best food for breakfast, lunch,and also dinner, i have a nice who can idli with molagapodi day in and out, it is really the best suited food for any one, my idlis also come out soft but i add alittle methi since my husband is diabetic, but i use longbody rice hence we use 5:1 of rice and full urad without skin soak overnight and grind in the mg. one more tip as far as possible please grind in the early morning hours when the weather is cold the grinder will not become hot and the batter does not become hot

  37. thank u padhu i got soft idlis

  38. Really very informative. Excellent article. Love your blog & recipes. Thanks for sharing Ms.Padhu.

  39. hi Padma,

    came across your site for the first time and felt really happy seeing so many dishes and you explain also nicely,

    I had a doubt,
    for making soft idlis, can I use sona masoori rice & whole urad dal in combination of 4:1?

    I purchased sona masoori rice specifically for idlis & dosas

    your reply will help me a lot


  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

  41. Hi Pooja
    I have not tried experimenting with sona masoori rice. You can half the recipe (ie) 2:1/2 and try it.If idly does not turn out well, you can always make dosa with that batter. Try and do let me know.

  42. Thanx for sharing your secrets... gonna try today...hope it comes out well just as yours...

  43. Hi Padhu,

    Can you please share which wet grinder you use for grinding? Also let me know can we run the grinder for 40 mins continuously? cos when I grind the better in mixer/mixie it got tripped after 15-20 min. pls suggest.

  44. Hi Pehli-Rosoi

    I use ulta table top wet grinder (see picture above) which is available commonly in India. I run that ultra grinder for more than 1 hour at a stretch.I am having it for more than 10 years and it is still working fine. You cannot run the mixie for that long time.

  45. Hi Kousalya as you had mentioned about yeast and where to get it from, I face the same problem and i use a little curd for the fermentation. Add a little of it(may be 2 or 3 table spoons of it)and mix well just before you leave the dough for fermentation

  46. hi padhu , iwould like to say that this much urad is not required. my mom do it for lots of years. if the urad is old 4:1 and if it is new 5:1 in that i add 50% pazhaya pacharisi and 50% par boiled rice.
    while grinding in wet grinder the rice is ground in such a consistency that when u sample, it feels like rava mixed to the rice batter. and plus i leave in north india and i use split urad dal and the ratio rice:urad is 6:1. please try.

  47. hi padhu its very nice of u to share this recipe with us but i what i want to know is what is this idli rice here in bombay i get this rice for idli and dosa but that is the thick variety and is white only in colour. can u kindly tell me which one to use here the sho[pkeepers do have a thick brown colour rice they say it is boiled rice can ni use that one please help because i also love idlis very much and till now i have been making idlis from idli rava they also turn out soft but i want to learn to make this rice idlis please reply.

  48. Hi Aarthi
    Idli rice is par boiled rice which you get especially for making idlis in South India. I am not aware of Bombay. Sorry for the delay in replying as there was a problem with my net connections.Read the comments also above, you will get lot of ideas.

  49. Hi Padhu, I am the regular visitor and follower of your menus. This is the first time i tried idli using cloth, it came out sooo well :-) the texture, the size everything was so good. Thanks a ton for your tips.
    Keep up the great work!!

  50. nice colourfull idli presentation & kids like it very much.

  51. Thanks for sharing your secrets :). My wife and I tried today and almost everything got done as per your advice, except one thing. While cooking the idlis remain wet for long and even after cooking 25 mins they remain wet. Can you please advise what might be going wrong?

    Thanks in advance!


  52. Abhi - The reason is that you have added too much water to the steaming pot, so while cooking the idlis the water has come up. Once the water starts boiling, reduce the flame to medium and pour the batter in idli moulds. Also do not add too much water in the steaming pot.There is hardly any chances for the idlis to go wrong if you follow the above tips.

  53. Thanks for the method of idli preparation.

  54. hi Padhu....
    thanks for sharing your recepie... one quick question, you have give two ratios for making the batter , what is the difference and which ratio helps in making softer idlis...

  55. Apurva -It depends on the quality of urad dal. If the urad dal is fresh (new stock) you can follow the 4:1 ratio. Now a days,I buy branded urad dal which is too good. So I follow the 4:1 ratio and I get super soft idlis.

  56. Hi padhu.....I tried ur idli receipe it turned out very well...my family members appreciated it...I thank you very much for your guidance and patience to explain the receipe. ..and I look forward to many more receipe s...:) :) :)

  57. Dear Padhu
    I love idlis esp soft ones... Thanks for the tips ..
    My another tip is that if you are going to grind in the mixie the rice can be fried in a pan before it is soaked it will give very soft idlis. At times for two I use to make like that ..else the way you suggest . Thanks for the recipes.All are fine and good

  58. Hi Padhu
    Love your site .My reference point.
    What will be the proportion if you use pachai arisi.Sometimes very difficult to get idli rice

    1. Thank you so much Meera for liking my site. To my knowledge, it is not possible to prepare soft idlis with raw rice. Only for dosa we use raw rice.

    2. Hi Padhu, The site construction is very attrtactive. Any way we can prepare soft idli using raw rice two units with one unit boiled rice.

  59. Dear Padhu,
    Do you have a recipe for roasting and powdering spices to make pulao as and when required?
    I know main ingredients would be black pepper, cinnamon stick, elaichi, cloves.
    However, would like you to share your expertise. I guarantee that would be very different and much better.
    Thanks Padhu,

  60. Hi Padu,
    I love your site. I am here in Canada and thanks to you that I am making lovely recipes and my family is loving it. I have tried to make idly's on several occasions and never really came out well. But your recipe just nailed it. I made your recipe this week and the whole family loved it. I have also tried few rasam recipe, avial etc. I will post my reviews soon. Thanks for your recipes. Simple to follow and great output. God bless

  61. Good Tips,Thanks..
    Even when we choose the idli stand and steamer also important.
    If it has holes in moulds ,only the batter made from grinder will be suited.
    and It is good if has whistle for steamer.

  62. I tried your version of preparing and it came out early well. My son SaI told me the idly is very spongy. Thanks for your receipe

  63. This is a great tips. I would also like to suggest a tip to make soft & spongy idlies. Add a glass of tender coconut water to the batter while grinding. Then see the taste of the idli would be mouthwatering. Just try this out guys

  64. Hai,
    Thanks for the recipes in simple and easiest way. Its work out. really superb work step by step way of explanation is very easy.

  65. Hai,

    Step by step explanation is very easy to catch up the recipes. Easy and simple way to know the recipes preparation is really superb. I recently got my wet grinder from tamilnadu to uttar pradesh by way of courier. Its really easy to prepare the batter by grinder instead of mixie. My mixie used to repair or broken the plastic lid and burn the motor while i prepare idli batter I was very upset and ordered through courier and got the grinder through snapdeal in a cheap rate. Now its work out. I prepare idli batter and started selling it also. The notes for the dishes i lost after white washing the house. While surfing for the dishes in net yours site came. I like and love it.

    Each recipes preparation are there.
    Good work and keep it up.

  66. Hi padhu, I live in Germany. I prepared idli batter for the first time using mixie. Generally for milk to become curd, I leave it in the baking oven overnight with just light switched on. In the morning it gets perfectly fermented. So i tried the same with batter but even after 12hours in the oven it didn't get fermented. What do you advice in my case?

    1. In colder places, it will take a longer time to ferment. Keep it in a warm place.Also try mixing the batter with your hands. The warmth of your hands might hasten the fermenting process.

  67. Hi,

    how long should i grind the soaked rice ? ... you have mentioned 40 minutes for urad dhaal ..

    1. You should grind rice until slightly coarse. Timings may differ depending on the grinder used. For me, it takes around 20-25 minutes as my ulta grinder is a little old (so the grinder belt will not be tight).

  68. For how many days this batter can be used if 4 persons eating 4 idlis?

    1. It depends upon the number of idlis a person eats. Mostly it will last for 2 or 3 days. I do not like to keep my batter for more than 4 days.


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