Chefs’ Secret To Making Perfect Idli At Home: Complete Recipe


Narinder Singh
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Have you struggled with making idli at home? I know I have. I watched several YouTube videos, read several online articles, followed the recipes to the letter, but the idli I made was not very soft and not very fluffy. Not only that, I was using the recommended parboiled rice and was mixing the ingredients in the right proportion, but the result was still unsatisfactory. Was it even possible to make perfect idli at home?

The Mistake

Several unsuccessful and frustrating attempts later, I realized it. I was not grinding the batter right. It had to be that.

I did not have a commercial wet grinder and instead had to grind my rice and lentils in one of my mixer grinder jars. I think I always ended up grinding the rice a little too much.

See, when making dosa batter, we can grind the rice/lentils mix until it becomes a fine paste. But not when we are making idli. The perfect idli batter requires lentils that are ground fine and rice that are ground a little course. How coarse and when to stop grinding the rice are the aspects that will decide the quality of our idli batter.

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And that is the problem. Amateurs like myself will never know.

The Solution

On one fortunate day, I saw an old YouTube video in which chef Sanjay Thumma of VahRehVah(dot)com shared his recipe for making idli. And there was the answer. If you do not know how to grind rice, do not use rice.

Use cream of rice instead. Cream of rice is also known as idli sooji, idli rava, and rice rava. You can buy it online or at South Indian provision stores. Cream of rice is already dry ground to the desired level. All you need to do is rinse it a few times, soak it in water for 4-5 hours, squeeze out the water and then add it to the ground urad dal. Your idli batter is ready for fermentation.

Here’s the complete recipe:

Recipe To Make Idli With Idli Sooji


  1. Split Urad Dal – 1 cup
  2. Idli Sooji – 2 cups
  3. Water to wash, soak and grind the above two ingredients.

The Process

  1. Clean and rinse 1 cup of split urad dal. Soak it in plain water for 4-5 hours.
  2. Rinse 2 cups of idli sooji in plain water 5-6 times. Soak it in plain water for 4-5 hours.
  3. Grind the soaked urad dal to a smooth purée and keep aside.
  4. Squeeze out the water from the soaked idli sooji.
  5. Mix the idli sooji and dal purée well.
  6. Your idli batter is ready for fermentation. The batter should not be runny. Do not add water unless necessary.
  7. Ferment the batter in a deep vessel for 12 hours, or longer if required. Ideally, a well-fermented batter should have increased in volume by at least 50%.
  8. Add some salt to the fermented batter. It is now ready to be poured into idli molds for steaming.
  9. Steam for 25 minutes. Keep the steamer covered for 5 minutes after switching off the stove.
  10. Your perfect, soft and fluffy idlis are ready to be enjoyed.

Watch The Videos

Happy cooking.

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