In South of India, the most traditional breakfast dish is the savoury, steamed rice cakes- Idli, served with the variety of chutneys of your choice.

These steamed rice cakes are made out of fermented batter, consisting of black lentils (urad dal/ black gram), long grain rice and parboiled rice, which are then soaked in the warm water and blended to make a fine paste.

To be completely honest with you, the process of preparing and cooking idlis is long, 😪 but it is definitely worth of your time as the fermentation process breaks down the starches so that they are more readily metabolised by your body, therefore making idlis a healthy, satisfying breakfast option for a whole family. 👍🏻

Personally, it took me few attempts to reach the perfection of soft, white and tasty idlis, nevertheless, at this point, I have gained enough of experience to be able to share some tips with you. 🙂


Preparation time- 14h (over 2 days)
Cooking time- 15-20 min


  • Idli moulds
  • Steaming pot
  • Blender or wet grinder
  • 2 bowls
  • Measuring cup
  • Heatproof container with a lid (such as soup pot)
  • 100°C preheated oven (or any warm place such as boiler room)


  • 4 and 1/2 cups of white rice (long grain)
  • 1 cup of skinless urad dal (black gram)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup parboiled rice (easy cook rice)
  • 8 fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp of table salt
  • water for soaking the grains



  1. Use warm water for washing and soaking the grains
    1. Soak the grains for at least 5h
  2. Use soaked urad dal water for grinding the grains, it will ensure you get soft and white idli (simply disregard of the soaked rice water)
    1. For a better batter fermentation process, it needs to be of a light pouring consistency but not liquidy (you can adjust the batter thickness during the grinding process.)


  1. I prefer soaking the grains in the morning, grinding in the evening and cooking in the next day morning.
  2. I have discovered that there is no need to use oil for greasing the idli moulds, they will not stick if you remove them from the moulds after 1 min of cooling! 😉
  3. DO NOT STIR the batter, as I believe, stirring can reduce the air bubbles produced during the fermentation process. The lack of air bubbles can make your idli flat and hard. (some people stir their batter and their idli come out fluffy but it didn’t work for me 😄 since I grind my grains in the blender, the fermented batter ends up in consistency like a thick and heavy mousse)
  4. You can refrigerate the batter for 1 to 2 days, although, I would recommend cooking the whole batch at once and then freeze the remaining idli and defrost them in the room temperature. You can then cook them in the microwave for 2 min and by splashing some water, you can make them soft again.


1. In two separate bowls, add 1 cup of urad dal (black gram) in the first bowl.
4 and 1/2 cups of white rice and 1 and 1/2 cup of parboiled rice (easy cook rice) in the second bowl (6 cups of rice in total).
  1.  Wash the grains under warm water till the water runs see-through.
  2. Fill up the bowls with warm water so it is fairly above the grains. As the time will pass, the grains will absorb the water and increase in their size.
  3. Add 8 fenugreek seeds to the bowl with urad dal.
  4. Leave the grains to soak for more than 5h.
  5. Grind the grains separately.
    • Fill it up with handfuls of urad dal/ rice and soaked urad dal liquid (if you feel the batter is becoming too thick, add a bit of water throughout the process but don’t make it too watery).
    • When using a blender as I am, for grinding the urad dal I tend to use more water as it becomes thicker and harder to blend, whereas the rice is better off with a little amount of liquid.
5. When the first batch (urad dal) is in the consistency of a smooth paste (like a cake batter), transform it into a heatproof container with a lid (pot) and repeat the process for the second batch of rice. Transfer the second batch with rice into a pot with urad dal.
4. Add 1 tsp of table salt and mix the two batters thoroughly with your hand for 5 min.
5. When the batter has acquired one colour (from white rice and yellow urad dal), you can put the lid on and leave the pot over the night in a preheated oven or boiler room.
(if using an oven, don’t forget to turn it off, otherwise, the batter will start cooking).
6. The next day morning, take out the batter. DO NOT STIR! Be very gentle when handling it as it contains air bubbles that make the idlis fluffy and soft.
7. Pour the batter into the moulds and cook in the steaming pot over the medium heat for 18 min.
8. When cooked, remove the pot from the hob and open a lid of a steaming pot. Remove the idli moulds and let them cool for 1 min. When cooled, remove idli and store them in the container with a lid to help retain the moisture and softness of the idli. 🙂

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