Super Soft White Idlis

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Super Soft White Idlis
Super Soft White Idlis

Idli….a simple, steamed dumpling synonymous with South India.  In South India, we don’t think twice about making Idlis, but the rest of India goes into paroxysms of delight at the sight of an idli. You have to just visit any Udupi outlet in Matunga in Mumbai to witness the craze for Idli. Most non-South Indians start with an order of Idli dunked in Sambar and a side of Molaga Podi. The phenomenon is especially exaggerated on a weekend morning! 🙂

The perfect idli is white, spongy, and light as air; and making it is subject of much discussion. The secret of the perfect idli lies in the batter. In Mumbai, freshly ground idli batter is widely sold at many a local grocer. However, I find that many of the versions contain artificial fermentation agents like buttermilk or yeast. 🙁 So after some years of persisting with store bought batter, I have reverted to making Idli batter at home, just as we have always done.

Making Idli batter is fairly simple, but needs some planning because of the preparation and eventual fermentation that is involved. However, once you master making the Idli batter, it becomes a routine activity. I, for example, make a fresh batch every Saturday and this lasts me through the week. 🙂

So here is my recipe for Soft White Idlis; batter and all.

How to Make Super Soft White Idlis

Preparation Time: 16-24 Hours

Cooking Time: 10 Minutes

Makes: ~24 Idlis


  1. Uppudu Biyyam, Ukada Chawal, or Parboiled Rice – 4 Cups
  2. Minapappu, Udad Dal or Husked, Split Black Gram – 1 Cup
  3. Atukulu, Poha, or Beaten Rice – 1/2 Cup
  4. Menthulu, Methi Dana or Fenugreek Seeds – 1 tsp
  5. Salt to Taste

Method to Make Idli Batter

  1. Wash the rice well under running water.
  2. Soak the rice in 3 cups of water for at least 8 hours.
  3. After 3 hours of soaking the rice:
    1. Wash the black gram well under running water.
    2. In a separate vessel, soak the Bengal gram and fenugreek seeds in 2 cups of water.
  4. About the rice has been soaking for about 8 hours, add the poha/beaten rice to the soaking rice.
  5. After 10 minutes, drain all the water from the rice and discard the water.
  6. Drain the water from the soaked gram and save the water.
  7. Grind the soaked gram first in a mixer-grinder till it forms a smooth paste.
    • If and when required, add a little of the water drained from the soaked black gram.
    • Do not add too much water. Just add a little at a time and patiently grind the batter till it is smooth and thick.
  8. Take the batter out in a large vessel.
  9. Grind the soaked rice + beaten rice with a little of the saved water till it is ground fine.
    • If and when required, add a little of the water drained from the soaked black gram.
    • Do not add too much water. Just add a little at a time and patiently grind the batter till it is fine.
    • The rice batter will remain a bit grainy.
  10. Add the rice batter to the gram batter.
  11. Add salt to the batter.
  12. Use your hand to thoroughly mix the two batters together.
    • Ensure that the vessel is only about 1/2 filled because the batter will rise quite a bit after fermentation.
  13. Cover the vessel and set aside to ferment for at least 8 hours.
  14. Once the batter is fermented, mix once gently.

Method to Make Soft White Idlis in a Pressure Cooker

  1. Remove the weight from the lid of the pressure cooker.
  2. Add enough water to the pressure cooker.
    • Do not place the lid on the cooker.
  3. Set the heat on high and let the water simmer.
  4. Lightly grease the idli mould.
  5. Fill each idli slot till it is just full or just short of being full.
  6. Place the idli stand in the cooker.
  7. Close the lid and let it steam for 8-10 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat and let the idlis rest for about 10 minutes.
  9. Open the cooker and take the idli stand out.
  10. Let it rest for 2-3 minutes,
  11. Take the soft white idlis out of the mould.
  12. Serve hot with sambar, senaga pindi pachadi, coconut chutney, and/or molaga podi.


  • The batter must ferment and almost double in size for the idlis to be soft and white.
  • The yellowish-ness of the idli is often because of inadequate fermentation and no other reason.

I would love to hear from you!

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