The humble Idli.

Looks and tastes so simple. Just three simple ingredients.

Here is how:

What we need

1 Cup of good quality whole urad dal( black gram)

2-21/2 cups of idli rava( available in Indian stores)


A wet grinder or Mixie.


Soak Urad dal in lots of water for about 6 hours. That’s right. No need for overnight soaking, then forgetting etc etc.

After 6 hours, its ready to grind. A heavy duty wet grinder is really a good investment for making good idlis. Transfer the soaked Urad dal  (black gram) into the grinder. Make sure you drain the soaked liquid into another bowl. Save the liquid. turn on the grinder and grind the dal for about 20 minutes. Here it gets tricky. we need to add very less water yet get a smooth and fluffy batter  filled with air. You can see the batter rising to the top of the grinder. The batter increases in volume. ( You can use the saved liquid for grinding, instead of fresh water) Add water if the batter gets heavy and sticky.

The final stage would be a fluffy, light, airy batter.

While the Dal is grinding soak the Idli rava in water for about 20 minutes.

ThIs step is not quite common but I do it. I mix the soaked Idli rava to the grinding  urad dal . Let the idli rava mix in with the urad dal completely and blend well just for about a minute or two. Not more. you can add some water if the batter gets heavy and gets sticky.

Remember we are looking for a fluffy airy batter.

add salt in the end. transfer the whole batter into a clean container and cover with a lid. let the batter ferment ovenight in a nice, warm humid place.  the oven with lights on Perhaps?

The next day, you might see the batter has risen or may be even overflowed from the container. Cleaning is a hassle, but that’s ok 🙂

Beat the batter with a ladle or a large spoon until all the air escapes. Now the batter will be a thick pourable consistency.

Steam the idlis using the idli  moulds and enjoy with chutney and sambar. Please come back for the recipes of the same 🙂

Making good idlis is hard. Someone said” its hard to be simple”.

The humble idli looks and taste so simple, yet there has to be a lot of care behind its gentle looks.

The time of soaking, the time of grinding, the amount of water, the proportions of the ingredients , the fermenting time , it matters every step of the way.

Only then the final Idlis turn out, soft, fluffy, very light ,very white and melts in your mouth.

My idlis above were not perfect but they were pretty decent.

Never order  Idlis in an Indian restaurant in the USA. they are just not right. They are not the “real Idlis”. Even the best of the best restaurants who claim to be Authentic south Indian do not have the perfect Idlis, in my experience.

Want to have ” real Idli” ? Go to Mysore or Bangalore 🙂