Monday, February 10, 2014


Idly is a staple breakfast item in South India.Be it a regular household or restaurant or a wedding idlis with chutney and sambar will be a top selling item . Assorted variety of chutney and piping hot sambar will accompany the pillowy soft idlis on all the occasions.   Also Idli , Pongal , Vadai is a winner combo too.Where as in households its usually milaga podi/ idli podi or any one chutney.I have lost count on how many idlis i have made / ate ...... Till date this is my absolute favorite breakfast I can vouch like any other South Indian.Trust me, often these simple breakfast is what you'll need to transport yourself to the childhood memories .

Amma religiously makes idli even now .That traditional way of laying a  damp cotton liner (old dhothi of appa) over the idli mould and peeling them with a splash of cold water once done (  Aavi parakkumThatu moodi idli).Weekdays it's mostly served with molaga podi / idli podi  besides a cup of thick yogurt/ curd. Bliss is the word. As and when we are done she would bring steaming hot ones straight from  the stove. That mallipoo idli is to die for and  I bet you would eat for your hearts content. By the way, mom has an affair with her grinder that without a fresh stock of batter she can't sleep .....

 While eating , gazing over the magazines is what i always used to do and countless scoldings I've got for that reason. I never knew those scoldings would turn into golden memory later.

On holidays , there will be an array of  chutneys and sambar. After that breakfast session, the most awaited second dose of   filter kapi (coffee). That hot kapi after a spicy podi idli gives that umami effect. All you would need is an easy chair to rest yourself. Now that thatu moodi is in my agenda list.

And I must tell you, those were the days that people relied on Radio and Tape recorder( for those well to do families) for entertainment. We had an old radio that was a wedding gift for mom and dad. That is the one we used to listen to often on holidays. After the breakfast session, laying back on an easy chair and listening to Ilayaraja songs are the moments to cherish for ever.
Nan thedum sevandhi poovidhu....
senthazham poovil vandhadum thenral....
idhu oru  pon malali pozhudhu....
pani vizhuum malarvanam......
pothi vecha maliya mottu......
malaiyoram veesum katru........

and the list goes on and on. 

My love for  that simple idli drenched in milaga podi  and sesame oil / gingely oil is still continuing and  I would let it sit for a while to get that nice spicy idlis . That's what gives the best flavor ever  and that eye catching color to these humble idlis.

Every South Indian home has their recipe for soft idli. Though many of us know this recipe, some of us still find it tricky to get a spongy idlis.This post is for those people who wants to get perfect soft and spongy idlis.

The real trick for soft idli lies in a good consistency batter.This also indirectly means a good quality urad.Only a good quality urad gives good volume of batter that in turn  makes idlis so soft and fluffy.Select boiled rice | idly rice for batter and not the regular raw rice .
I strongly recommend wet grinder for the batter. The volume of batter drastically varies if you use a regular mixer grinder. Here I'm sharing both the methods.

Ingredients for wet grinder method

IdlyRice                  - 4 cups * see notes
Urad                       - 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds     -  1 tsp
Salt                         -  3 tsp (adjust to your taste)


Soak rice in a separate bowl . Soak urad and fenugreek together in a separate bowl. Make sure  that you have added enough water to cover the ingredients. It is always a good practice to have 3 inches of excess water on top. Urad would bulge and so you need enough water in a bigger bowl. If you are in a cold country ,soak for a minimum of 6 to 7 hrs.Otherwise you can soak for 4 hours.

Grind urad and fenugreek first ,by adding little water at a time.Use your spatula and keep clearing the urad accumulating on the sides to get a uniform smooth batter.Usually for a cup of urad, it takes about 20 to 25 minutes to get a good volume of batter.When you touch the batter it should feel slightly cool and light,fluffy.That's when you have got the correct consistency.Transfer it into a container.

Now start grinding rice separately .Use water accordingly to help grinding. Keep clearing the sides to get a uniform texture.Usually rice is ground to a slightly coarse consistency for idlis.This also takes about 20 to 25 minutes. Then transfer the batter into the same container.Approximately the volume of both the batter should be equal  to get a soft and spongy idlis.

Add salt and mix thoroughly. Make sure that the container is big enough for fermentation as there will be an increase in volume during this stage.Keep it in a warm place and ferment it for 5 hrs(8 hrs for cold countries).

Ingredients for Mixer| Mixie

 Idly Rice                  - 2 1/2 cups
Urad                        - 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds      - 1 tsp
salt                           - 2 tsp (adjust to your taste)


Soak urad and fenugreek together for 4 hrs.(6 to 8 hrs for cold countries).
Soak rice separately for 4 hrs.(6 to 8 hrs for cold countries).

Grind urad and rice separately  by adding required amount for water.Both the batter should be approximately equal in volume to get soft idlis.

Mix both the batter together and add salt and mix thoroughly. Make sure that the container is big enough for fermentation as there will be an increase in volume during this stage.Keep it in a warm place and ferment it for 5 hrs(8 hrs for cold countries).

Fermenting the batter
This is a crucial step to achieve the best result. If you are in a warm country , no extra efforts needed. Just cover and keep aside for 8 hrs.
If you are in a cold country, Preheat oven for a while so that oven becomes warm. Then leave the batter covered and turn on the oven light) and leave it over night , it might take 8 to 10 hrs.

Making Idlis

Keep the steamer ready with just boiling water.

Mix the batter gently and pour it into greased idly plates and steam for 6  to 8 minutes.

Give it a standing time of 5 minutes.With a help of a wet spoon , take the idlis from the idly plates.

Serve it hot with idli podi , chutney and sambar.


If you are not sure about the urad , Try using 3: 1 ratio of rice to urad. If your idli looks flat , that indicates urad is more, so increase the rice a bit more 3.5 cups to 1 cup urad.


  1. I have whole urad dal so should I use 1/2 cup or 1 cup is okay. Also, I use mixer for grinding and never get soft and porous idli so how can I overcome this. Please help. Thanks!


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