Do your idlis not turn out as soft as you want them to be? Learn the authentic south-Indian way to make idlis and start making soft idlis in no time

Idli recipe – How to make soft idlis every time

  • Author:
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins
  • Yield: 32


Equipment needed


  1. Soaking – Wash the rice and urad dal separately until the water runs clean.
  2. Add the methi/fenugreek seeds to the rice and soak it in water for 4-6 hours. Soak the urad dal too for the same amount of time.
  3. Grinding – Drain all the water from the urad dal and grind it to a fine paste using spoonfuls of water at a time (approximately 3/4 cup in total). Grind the rice to a coarse paste with approximately 1 cup of water and then mix both the pastes together in a large bowl and whisk them well. Add water as needed (approximately another 1/2 cup) to get the batter to a consistency that is neither too thick or thin. If using Blendtec, run the smoothie cycle (approximately 60 seconds) for both idli and urad dal batter.
  4. Fermentation – Keep the batter in a warm place to ferment (see notes) Once the batter has risen, add salt to the batter and whisk the batter to mix it well.
  5. Steaming – Grease the idli stand with oil. and take a ladleful of batter and fill the idli mold. Add 1/2 cup of water in the idli steamer and let it boil. Put the idli stand inside and close the lid. Let the steam build for 8-10 minutes before switching off the gas. If you are using a cooker, use it without a vent and steam it for 10 minutes and then switch the gas off. In both cases, wait till the steam is released (another 5-10 minutes) before you take the idli stand out.
  6. Wait for another 5 minutes and then use a sharp knife to scoop the idlis out.
  7. Serve warm with coconut chutney or red coconut chutney.


Fermentation – Leave the batter to ferment in a warm place. Fermentation can take anywhere between 8 – 12 hours (and sometimes up to 15 hours). For most people in India, that would mean leaving it on your kitchen counter. But for those living abroad in much colder climates, you have the following options
1) Oven – Leave it inside your oven with the light on or Preheat your oven to 170 degrees F or the lowest temperature it can be preheated to. Turn off the oven. Wait for 10 minutes and then place the batter inside the oven.
2) Close to your heat vent – Always place your vessel on a cookie sheet – don’t want the overflowing batter seeping inside the vent.
3) The proof setting in your oven – Set it for 12 hours and your batter is nice and ready.
4) Use an Instant Pot (my preferred choice) – Pour the batter in the steel insert. Place the steel insert inside the Instant Pot. Press the yogurt function – the display should read “YOGT” and adjust till the “Less Normal More ” section is set to less. Adjust the time to 12 hours. Cover the lid and lock it.The vent can be either at sealing or venting position – doesn’t matter. This is my preferred method because it yields consistent results every time.