The softest idlis possible



Idlis are a delightful south Indian breakfast. These steamed delicacies are a must in most Tamilian  families, and have found favour in a lot of restaurants serving South Indian food all over the world.
They are 100% vegetarian and vegan too! If you decide to make idlis, you need to plan on it two days ahead.
The following recipe is my mother’s secret one, and it works like a dream!


  1. Idli rice – 4 cups (This is a special kind of rice found in many Indian stores)
  2. Urad dal – 1 cup (Any urad dal will do, but if you get whole urad dal, skin removed, but the grain in tact, that is the best. This is called “Gota Urad Dal))
  3. Plain rice – 1 cup
  4. Cooked rice – 1 cup
  5. Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp.

Soak overnight:

Wash and soak all the rice together (except the cooked rice). Make sure the water is about 2 inches above the rice.

Wash and soak the urad dal with the fenugreek seeds.The water level should be 2 inches above the dal.

  1. The next day, take out your blender and get started.
  2. First, add the soaked urad dal with the fenugreek seeds to the mixer jar. Add a little bit of water and run the blender.
  3. Add more water if needed, till the dal is ground to a silky smooth paste. This step is important, as it will determine the softness of your idlis.
  4. Transfer it to a very large container, or divide it among two smaller containers.
  5. Now, in the same blender jar, grind the rices, without adding too much water, just enough to blend the contents of the jar and keep the blender running smoothly.
  6. Grind all the rice this way, dividing the rice among the containers.
  7. Once you have ground all the rice – get mixing. You will need to do this by hand, as the fermentation is much better this way.
  8. Make sure that the containers are not more than 30% full, as you will have to leave room at the top for it to rise.
  9. Leave to ferment overnight in a warm place.
  10. The next morning, the batter would have fermented and will be giving off a lovely smell.
  11. Mix the batter again gently.
  12. Get your idli steamer going. Grease the idli plates well, and half fill with the batter.
  13. Steam over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  14. Now take it off the heat, or switch it off. Rest the idlis for 7 – 10 minutes.


Unmoulding the idlis:

  1. Remove each plate of idli from the stand.
  2. Sprinkle with water .
  3. Take a sharp edged knife or spoon, and run it around the edge of each idli, releasing it from its mould.
  4. Stack all the idlis in a container and serve hot with coconut chutney, sambar and ‘molagaipodi’.

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