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Friday, November 15, 2013

How to make Idli Batter / South Indian Breakfast staple - Idlies

Today’s wholesome breakfast menu is the famous and staple South Indian breakfast! You guessed it right…its IDLI.  Though many people like and prefer this item on their breakfast table every morning, I have a love hate relationship with it.  I never liked the idlis made at home for many years though I enjoyed eating them when went out for a meal.  Hubby and I often stop at a joint for some hot Idli/Vada on the way to work.  They make some really good piping hot Sambar which tastes amazing!!  Sometimes hubby deliberately misses eating breakfast at home so that we can go there. :)  Somehow I never tried making it at home until recently, since I never really liked them. 

Finally, I decided to try making it at home after seeing my MIL struggle continuously to make the perfect idlies.  Since she is getting old and also a working Mom, she would forget the appropriate measurements and every time she tried, we would end up getting hard rock idlies!  She was so discouraged at the end and asked me to find out what is the correct measurement from my mom and try it myself.  Hence began my experiments to make the perfect idlies :)

The measurements given below are what my mother gave me and has worked perfectly every time I have tried. With any slight variation, the idlies would become slightly hard. So I stick to the accurate measurements to get that soft and perfect idlies. That’s enough of the background story….lets get on with the actual recipe now!!

Ingredients for Idli batter:
Idli Rice - 2 cups
Dosa rice/raw rice -  ½ cup
Urad dal – 1 cup
Cooked rice/ Poha/Avallaki – a handful

1.      Soak rice and urad dal separately for at least 6 hours. (We usually do it in the mornings).
2.      In the evening, soak a handful of poha in water before you start the grinding process that is only if you are adding poha. If you are adding cooked rice then you can skip this step. 
3.      Wash the soaked rice thoroughly and grind into a coarse batter using a mixer/wet grinder. Make sure the batter is thick. The thin batter would be ok for Dosa but not for Idli. While grinding the last batch, add soaked poha or cooked rice and grind together.  Pour the rice batter in a big bowl/container which has room for the batter to raise.
4.      Then grind the washed urad dal very finely by adding enough water. It should be smooth and fluffy when you touch.
5.      Mix the urad dal batter into rice batter using a ladle or clean hand would do.
6.      Add a table spoon of salt in the corner and keep it covered till morning in a warm place.
7.      Finally mix the batter lightly and pour them into the greased idli molds and steam it for 10-15 minutes in batches as required.

UPDATE: The Idli making experiments are still on and the good news is we have discovered one more sure shot way of making soft and spongy idlies :)  The secret is you have to let the batter ferment for longer period no matter what measurement we use. I find that when we make idlies with the above measurements, it gives a strong urad dhal taste, since urad dhal proportion is more.  But the one given below is more balanced I feel...I was also under the impression that we have to use the idli rice/boiled rice to make good idlies. But I was prooved wrong...because we used Dosa rice and got better idlies :)  so hear goes the second method!

Dosa Rice/Raw rice - 3 cups
Urad dhal - 1 cup
handful of cooked rice/soaked Poha

Use the same method of preparation mentioned above but only make sure you grind the batter very finely and ferment it for at least 12-14 hrs before you make idlies. When it is fermented properly, you can feel the batter is more fluffy and it should be in dropping (not pouring) consistency. 

Ingredients for Coconut Chutney:
1 cup grated coconut
3-4 green chilies
½ bunch mint leaves
4-5 strands of coriander leaves
½ inch or small ball of tamarind
½ inch ginger
2 table spoon fried gram
Salt to taste

For Chutney, grind the ingredients in a mixer/food processor into a coarse paste or according your desired consistency and season with Mastered seeds and curry leaves with a spoon of oil in a small kadai and serve them hot :)

I usually make some tomato chutney also with this instead of the regular Sambar. Will post the Tomato chutney and Sambar recipe soon.

Points to Ponder:

As parents, it is a tough task to raise obedient children. I do find it extremely difficult to deal with their tantrums with a calm mind. As a working mother, it becomes even more difficult to keep your calm when you are exhausted at the end of the day when a child needs your attention. When they don’t get that attention instantly, they immediately turn to their tantrums like whining, screaming etc., while you are trying to get things done in the little time before heading to bed. I have learnt that all I need to do during such times is, sit with them and spend a little time cuddling and doing the things that they love!! All other things can wait…….

As the two important men in my life celebrate their birthdays today, my prayer for them is that they know God more and more as they grow each day! That they become Godly men who love the Lord and their families. That they become responsible sons, caring husbands, and loving fathers!! The Bible verse given below describes beautifully how we as parents can teach our children to know God closely.

“The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”         Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV Bible)

 Enjoy some hot idlies and chutney with a morning dose of news around the world :)


  1. Hey Leena, you have a lovely space out here. Especially love the way you share verses at the end of posts.

    PS: The idlis look so soft and perfect :) I have never used a combination of Idli and Dosa Rice. Must try out your way. Also, Happy B'day to the ones who celebrated their Birthdays. Have a Blessed year ahead.

  2. Thank you very much Priya for your sweet comment! The birthday boys are my hubby and son :) Thanks for your wishes :)

  3. Never tried tamarind in coconut chutney...idlis looks so soft...

    1. Tamarind is usually used in South India! It really gives that punch required :) So sorry for replying so late! Have not been able to log into my account :)

  4. Wow that is awesome and i love south Indian dishes and have visited maximum south indian restaurants in mumbai


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