Hmmm…Soft, fluffy rows of round idlis for breakfast, along with chutney or sambar or both. Who wouldnt want that? Though idli is simple to make, making the batter is not so simple task. If the batter was not fermented enough or did not have enough urad dhal, soft idlis would turn up as bricks no matter how many times we try. Once the batter secret is conquered, breakfast or dinner worries run away from the house. Use the fresh idli batter for idlis, slightly old batter for dosas or fast uthapams. Sky is the limit in turning idli batter into easy breakfast dish.

When I think of this onion chutney I always think of the time when I was in school. My mom was busy making idli and this onion chutney. She was busy doing a thousand things and so asked me to give her a shout when the ingredients have cooled down(after the frying process). I thought I was speeding up the process and stood infront of a table fan with a plate full of fried dhal,onion and red chilis….and off they went in all four directions.

For Idli:
Idli rice- 4 cups
Urad dhal- 1 cup (Use 4 parts rice : 1 part urad dal or 5 parts rice:1 part dal)
Fenugreek seeds- 3/4 tsp

Soak rice and urad dhal plus fenugreek seeds separately for atleast 5 hours. Drain the water and grind urad dhal first till it is fluffy and smooth without adding too much of water. Transfer to a tall vessel. Grind the rice to a thick smooth paste. Pour this on top of the urad dhal paste. Add salt(1.5 tsp), mix both pastes together and let it ferment. It would be better to keep the batter in a warm place.

When grinding for idlis, since I dont have a grinder like how they use in India, I grind the batter in a mixie. I add ice cold water while grinding for two reasons:

1) To cool the motor of the mixie.
2) To get softer, fluffier urad dhal mixture.

The next day morning the batter would have doubled in volume.


Scoop the topmost batter and drop them into greased idli moulds(with oil). Steam it in a pressure cooker/idli cooker for 12 minutes on medium flame(maximum amount of time depends around this mark 12-16 minutes). If you use high flame, idlis will be raw batter inside and cooked on the outside. Check if the idlis are done by inserting a clean knife or fork into one idli, if it comes out clean, its done!!

Remove the lid of the cooker and let idlis cool and pop them out of the mould. Serve idlis with chutneys or podis.

To make onion chutney, heat about 1 tbsp of oil in a kadai, add 2 tbsp of chana dal and urad dal each, 2 red chilies,stir fry for a minute, add 1/2 cup chopped onions and salt to taste. Stir fry till onions turn transparent. Cool and grind to a smooth paste in a blender. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with idlis or dosas.

Whenever I make idlis I think of the famous “Murugan Idli Shop” in chennai which is well known for its soft idlis and endless list of chutneys at an affordable cost/plate of idlis. They add methi seeds(vendayam) to their idli batter as methi cools down the body heat. If you make dosas with methi, that is vendaya dosa and it has its own unique taste. Apart from the idli part of it, I have fond memories attached to it. My hubby was on his way to our home before our engagement and he turned up a couple of hours late. He had just landed in India and he couldnt resist the temptation and stopped at the shop instead of coming home! And till today I pull his leg about it. Here is the link for the murugan idli shop if you want to check it out.

PS: The murugan idli shop website also gives you recipe and proportions to make their world famous idli, I am not sure if I can post it straight(copyright stuff) but if you go to murugan idli shop site given above, you can check out their recipes for idli, dosa, vegetable idli, paniyaram etc.,

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3 Comments to “Idli”

  1. Cham says:

    Wow- I am gonna leave my trace. Hey, Ur ratio and recipe is quiet different Sow! Murugan idli – haha idli fan na unga vittula?

  2. Here’s what I have to say about your Idli 101. I wish I had read read this post a few years ago. It would have saved two blenders going kaput. I never thought of using cold water to grind the batter. Ingenious!
    Your proportion is very new to me. I usually use idli rava to urad dal at 3:1 or Ponni rice to urad dal. A friend once told me to use whole, skinned urad dhal and I have been using that ever since. Not sure if it makes any difference though.

  3. I could have asked you this question in the earlier comment but seeing as you are my first entry for the event I wanna up your comment count. Just kidding. The comment was getting too long and turning into a post.
    Here’s a question: I steam my idlis only on the top plate since the bottom plates get some water around the idlis making the edges soggy. I have tried using less water in the base of the steamer pot (as per another friend’s suggestion) but that doesn’t seem to work. Any ideas why that happens and how to get around it?

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