Simple Indian Recipes...
Delicious and healthy dishes that can be made even by first timers.

Fluffy & Soft Idlis

 Published 2007-Jun-11   Updated 2019-Nov-04

-Submitted by Dahlia

(Basic Idli, Spongy Idlis, South Indian idli, Plain Idli, Fluffy Idli)

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Idli is a staple breakfast in South India and SriLanka. It is a comfort food for most South Indians. It is one of the South Indian delicacies that is popular and enjoyed by people throughout India. 

Idlis are made in two popular ways : using parboiled rice and using idli (rice) rava. The first method is traditionally followed by in Tamilnadu and Kerala while the second method is followed in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Here I will be sharing the one with parboiled rice. 

These soft, spongy and savory rice cakes are made by making a batter of rice and black lentils, fermenting the batter and steaming it in special idli moulds. It is also served in weddings or other special occasions with sambhar, medhu vadai, chutney or idli milagai podi. It also goes very well with non veg gravies like chicken curry, egg curry etc and veg kurmas. Due to its soft texture it is given to kids as early as 6 months. Since it is steamed, it is healthy and gets easily digested. So it is also commonly given to ailing patients and old people.

Idlis are traditionally made in a special idli stand. It has a tree of idli plates that can be steamed in a idli cooker or pressure cooker or any vessel. These days idli stands are available in different sizes and forms. There is electric idli cooker, microwave idli stand, non stick stove top idli stand, mini idli stand etc. You can choose and buy one according to your choice. For those of you who do not have idli stand, you can still make idlis using stainless steel tumblers.

Video Instructions For Making Soft Idlis

Recipe For Making Soft Idlis

Preparation time: 10-15 hours (including fermentation time)
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4-5


  • Idli rice - 1 3/4 cup
  • Black gram - 1/2 cup
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
  • Salt - 1 tbsp


  1. Wash and soak rice in a bowl. Wash and soak the black gram and fenugreek seeds in another bowl. Soak both for at least 2-6 hours. I have shared the procedure of making idli batter in detail in a separate post. 
  2. Drain the water and grind the black gram to a smooth paste using a wet grinder or Indian mixie. Remove the batter into a bowl.
  3. Next grind the rice smoothly. Remove the batter into the same bowl.
  4. Add the salt and mix both the batters thoroughly.
  5. Now leave the batter to ferment for 7-12 hours till the batter rises to almost double the size.
  6. To make the idlis, first take about 1 cup of water in the idli cooker or pressure cooker. Keep it on flame and bring to boil.
  7. Grease the idli plates with few drops of oil and fill with idli batter. Fill the molds with the fermented idli batter till it is 3/4 th full.
  8. Place it in the idli cooker. Steam and cook for about 10 minutes.

Detailed Steps For Making Soft Idlis

Soak rice and black gram separately in water for at least 1 hour. Soaking overnight can be done too. Add fenugreek seeds to black gram. Increase the quantity if you are making a larger batch. I have shared the procedure of making idli batter in detail in a separate post. Here I will just quickly run through the steps.

Homemade Idli Dosa Batter Steps

Drain the water and grind the black gram to a silky soft texture. You can use a grinder or mixer. Just take a little batter and feel between your fingers if it has become a smooth paste.

Homemade Idli Dosa Batter Steps

Next grind the rice smoothly. It is OK to have a slightly grainy texture while grinding rice. Mix it with black gram batter along with salt.

Homemade Idli Dosa Batter Steps

Now leave the batter to rest and ferment for at least 7 hours till the batter rises to almost double the size. It may take anywhere between 7 -12 hours to ferment.

Homemade Idli Dosa Batter Steps

To make the idlis, grease the idli plates with few drops of oil and fill with idli batter. Traditionally instead of greasing a thin white cloth is spread on the idli plate. I just do it by greasing with little sesame oil. If you are using a non-stick idli stand you do not have to grease it. Do not fill the molds all the way through, just leave a little space for expansion. You also get mini idli plates which are a great option for kids. Use a small spoon to fill batter in that.

idli Preparation idli Preparation

Steam them for about 10 minutes till they rise and become firm. You can check if the idlis are done by inserting a knife or toothpick. If it comes out clean, the idlis are done. If some batter sticks to the knife, cook it for couple of minutes more.

idli Preparation idli Preparation

Switch off the stove and leave it undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Then use a wet spoon to gently remove the idlis from the idli plate. Store it in a hotbox till you are ready to eat.

idli Preparation idli Preparation


Variation (Making Idli without Idli Maker)

  • Instead of idli mould, you can use ever silver tumblers to make tumbler idli or glass idli. I have explained in detail in a separate post. It tastes the same as idli cooked in mold, but with the shape of the tumbler.
  • These days you get microwave idli steamers also. It usually comes with 2 idli plates with 4 mold each. There is also microwave mini idli plate available in market. To make that take just 1/4 cup of water in the microwave bowl. Grease the idli plates and fill with batter. Cover with the lid and microwave on high powder for 2-4 minutes. My microwave is 900 watts and it took 4 minutes to cook 8 idlis and 2 minutes to cook 4 idlis. You need to experiment and find the cooking time with your oven. Just insert with a knife and see if the idlis are cooked. If the batter sticks to the knife, microwave for 1 or 2 minutes more.

Serving Suggestion

Idli with Carrot Chutney


Idli with Coconut Chutney, Sambar and Podi


More Idli and Dosa Recipes

Ragi Idli/ Dosa Ragi Idli/ Dosa Rava Idli Rava Idli Oats Idli/ Dosa Oats Idli/ Dosa Masala Idli Masala Idli
See more ⟩⟩

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Comments (19)

Person   ()
Really good- thanks
Person   ()
Thanks for your comments.
Person   ()
Why dont you include the price also for each and it will be helpful to hve an approx idea about the cost factor
RKS nair ,,9940429402
Person   ()
The price keeps changing from time to time. You can always check the price of the ingredients online.
Person   ()
Carrot chutney is nice combination with idli. I bought a new Microwave idli maker and it is easy for me to prepare in oven.
Person   ()
Yes. Oh thats nice.... How long do you keep to prepare one batch of idlis??
Person   ()
Idli would definitely come out nice and yummy if the batter is well-prepared.
Person   ()
Person   ()
It would have been better if tips on presentation were also given. Now a days appearance and presentation matters a lot. It would have been better if the recepie of the accompanying serving sauce or sambhar would have been mentioned as idli can't be served alone
Person   ()
Hi Shreya. If you notice the picture, idli is served along side tomato sauce. I have also given links of all the possible side dishes.
Person   ()
what mean is black gram
Person   ()
kala urad
Person   ()
Really this tip was very useful. and what is quantum of rice and black gram i have to use. pls mention in gram or kilogram
Person   ()
hi, i wana know what is idli rice.. I mean wat u generally call it in tamil.. Im so interested in trying this recipe cuz idliz are my dad's favourite.. Plz reply bk asap.. :)
Person   ()
hey thanks
i never thought idlis can be steamed in glasses
Person   ()
Instead of Idli Rice, make use of Idli Rava to get the taste even better...:)
Person   ()
Thanks for the tip. Idli rice and idli rava gives totally different texture and taste. Idli rice gives softer idlis and idli rava gives a spongey texture. Each one can use according to their taste and preference.
Person   ()
add handful of poha (aval) to the batter also makes the idli fluffy.
Person   ()
That's a great tip too.

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Old Comments

Comment by neha saxena
    ur recipes r superb

Reply :-
    Thank You.

Comment by  Sophia Siva on 28 July 2009 17:03PM
What kind of rice do you use for idli. Is it par boiled? long grain? Please advise.
Thank you

Reply :-
    Hi Sophia, You can use idly rice which is available in most Indian Grocery stores. You can also use long grain rice. Certain parboiled varieties does not work out well for idlis.


 Published by on and last updated on 2019-11-04.