How to Make Soft Idlis

How to Make Soft Idlis

How to Make Soft Idlis

Idli is a traditional breakfast in most South Indian households and I have added grated carrots and steamed it in a cake mould. I am often asked, How to Make Soft Idlis? I grew up eating Soft Idlis at least, two to three times a week. Idli is a savoury rice cake that is popular throughout India now. Yes, there is chutney (dip) and sambar (lentil soup) to make too and all this takes time but with prior preparation, you can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

These rice cakes are round and are made by steaming a batter consisting of fermented black lentils and rice. Due to the fermentation process, the starches break down so that they are more readily metabolized by the body. Digging into soft and fluffy idli dunked in spicy sambar and smothered with coconut chutney is blissful. You can even sprinkle some gunpowder to make it spicier. When I was having a fever or fell ill, my mom used to give me idlis to eat with sugar! They taste so yummy with sugar too. If you have an upset tummy, idlis with sugar were recommended by the doc.

Steaming is Healthy

Idlis are steamed thus can help in weight loss. Steamed food has less fat and calories that can increase your weight. Idli is very nutritious as it is a rich source of carbohydrates, fibre, and protein. As idlis are made of fermented batter, the protein, and vitamins B content in the food will increase. Millet Pongal is also a healthy breakfast option.

Idli is Tasty

If you are tired of eating healthy but bland breakfast of sweet oats, cornflakes or poached eggs, then shift to healthy Indian food items that are not only a treat to your taste buds but healthy as well. Idli is one of them and at the top. The process takes time but otherwise once you have the batter ready you can make as many idlis as you want to depend on your Idli steamer size. In my mom’s house, we had an idli stand of six plates which made 24 idlis and when I was married into a large family, my mom gifted me an idli stand with seven plates; 28 idlis could be made at a time! But now a single plate is enough! Idli can be stuffed too. If you want a change check out this Mushroom| Sweet Corn stuffed Idli.

Idli Idli Everywhere

The city where I live has idli selling carts in almost every street. It is a street food as well as a gourmet dish on a five-star menu. There is one very famous idli shack –Babai Idli in my city which is very popular in the city and all over. Their idli recipe is a closely guarded secret. The idlis are so soft that they just melt in the mouth. There was even a movie made on the owner of the Shack. No sambar is served there and the idli is served with chutney and a huge dollop of homemade butter on top. The place doesn’t have good tables or chairs to sit on too but you can see a rickshaw and an Audi parked outside.

Coconut Chutney

In India, coconuts are offered to God in almost every temple. The priest will keep half and the other half he returns as Prasad. When I was a kid, there was this restaurant just a few hundred meters away from my house. The chutney served there was always very yummy and it never tasted the same at home. We were regulars there and there were takeaways every other day. Once I asked the steward-“What is the secret to the tasty chutney in your hotel? He replied,” We use the coconuts leftover at the temple and thus our chutney tastes divine!”  And I actually bought that answer!

How to Make Coconut Chutney

Coconut chutney is on the sweeter side and neutralizes the spicy sambar and podi. Coconut is sweet and you add a couple of green chillies to make it a bit spicier.  Roasted Bengal gram is added to sliced coconut and made into a paste. Add a little milk and the taste gets enhanced. Coconuts are easily available in coastal areas. It should neither be too ripe nor too fresh. Shake the coconut to see if there is water inside. If there is water then you can buy that for chutney.

Let me now share the recipe for How to make Soft Idlis with coconut chutney. If you like Sambar then check out the recipe here.

Ingredients:

For Idli Batter

Urad Dal – 1 cup

Idli Rava – 3 cups idli ravva( made of rice)

Dal and Rice ravva for Idli
How to Make Soft Idlis for Idli Batter

1 cup Grated Carrot

How to Make Soft Idlis
Idli Steamer

Method

Wash the urad dal nicely and soak it for at least 4 to 6 hours.

In a separate bowl, wash the idli ravva under running water and soak it for an hour.

Drain water from the soaked urad dal and grind it in the mixer. Make a smooth thick batter. It should not be runny. Grind till it is soft and fluffy.

Transfer the ground batter to a large vessel as the batter will ferment and increase in volume. Squeeze water from the soaked idli ravva and add it to the ground urad dal batter. I use my hand to mix both as it is the best way to get a perfect blend. Now cover with a lid and keep aside in a warm place. Leave the batter to ferment overnight.

The fermentation is slow in winter and quick during summer. As we live in the tropics it is easy to ferment nicely but if you live in a cold climate then keep it in a heated room or in your oven with the light on. The primary reason for soft and fluffy idlis is the fermentation process.

In the morning, you will see that the batter has risen to the top. Add salt and mix gently with a ladle. The batter is now ready to make idlis. Pour 2 cups of water into the idli steamer.

Idli in Ring Mould

I wanted to make different idlis so I took a greased ring mould and placed some grated carrots in it and poured the idli batter over them.

Place the mould in a closed pan for ten minutes. Insert a toothpick to check if the idli is done. Gently unmould the idli onto a platter and serve with the chutney in the ring. Drizzle some ghee liberally over the idli.

Or for regular idlis—-

Heat 2 cups water in the idli steamer. While the water is heating, wash the idli plates and lightly grease them with oil if you want to. I just spoon the idli batter using a small ladle onto wet moulds so that the idlis come off easily. Place the idli stand in the idli steamer and cover with the lid. Steam the idlis for exactly ten minutes. Remove the lid and the idli stand and leave it for a couple of minutes. Grease a spatula with ghee and carefully remove each idli and place in a bowl. Drizzle some ghee (clarified butter) over the idlis for a divine taste.

How to Make Soft Idlis

Serve hot, steamed idlis in a plate with chutney, sambar and gun powder or podi. Or Serve in a bowl with the idlis submerged in a pool of sambar.

Coconut Chutney Ingredients:

½ coconut, peeled and sliced finely

¼ cup roasted chana dal

2 green chillies

2 spoons milk

Salt to taste

For the tempering:

1 tsp oil

2 dry red chillies split

1tsp Bengal gram or chana dal

1 tsp. mustard seeds

Few curry leaves

Method:

Coconut Chutney
Coconut Chutney
Tempering for Coconut Chutney

Take the finely sliced coconut, roasted chana dal and green chillies in the mixer jar. Add a little water and make a thick paste. Remove into a bowl and add salt and milk. Mix thoroughly. Take a small pan for tempering; heat the oil and add the dry red chillies, then add the dal, once they are a bit done then add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the curry leaves and pour over the coconut paste. Your chutney is ready to eat with idli.

Coconut chutney
How to Make Soft Idlis
Print Recipe
How to Make Soft Idlis
Print Recipe
Instructions
  1. Wash the urad dal nicely and soak it for at least 4 to 6 hours.
  2. In a separate bowl, wash the idli ravva under running water and soak it for an hour.
  3. Drain water from the soaked urad dal and grind it in the mixer. Make a smooth thick batter. It should not be runny. Grind till it is soft and fluffy.
  4. Transfer the ground batter to a large vessel as the batter will ferment and increase in volume. Squeeze water from the soaked idli ravva and add it to the ground urad dal batter. I use my hand to mix both as it is the best way to get a perfect blend. Now cover with a lid and keep aside in a warm place. Leave the batter to ferment overnight. The fermentation is slow in winter and quick during summer. As we live in the tropics it is easy to ferment nicely but if you live in a cold climate then keep it in a heated room or in your oven with the light on. The primary reason for soft and fluffy idlis is the fermentation process.
  5. In the morning, you will see that the batter has risen to the top. Add salt and mix gently with a ladle. The batter is now ready to make idlis. Pour 2 cups of water into the idli steamer.
  6. I wanted to make a different idli so I took a greased ring mould and placed some grated carrots in it and poured the idli batter over them.
  7. Place the mould in a closed pan for ten minutes. Insert a toothpick to check if the idli is done. Gently unmould the idli onto a platter and serve with the chutney in the ring. Drizzle some ghee liberally over the idli.
  8. Or for regular idlis----
  9. Heat 2 cups water in the idli steamer. While the water is heating, wash the idli plates and lightly grease them with oil if you want to. I just spoon the idli batter using a small ladle onto wet moulds so that the idlis come off easily. Place the idli stand in the idli steamer and cover with the lid. Steam the idlis for exactly ten minutes. Remove the lid and the idli stand and leave it for a couple of minutes. Grease a spatula with ghee and carefully remove each idli and place in a bowl. Drizzle some ghee (clarified butter) over the idlis for a divine taste.
  10. Serve the hot, steamed idlis in a plate with chutney, sambar and gun powder or podi. Or Serve in a bowl with the idlis submerged in a pool of sambar.
  11. Take the finely sliced coconut, roasted chana dal and green chillies in the mixer jar. Add a little water and make a thick paste. Remove into a bowl and add salt and milk. Mix thoroughly. Take a small pan for tempering; heat the oil and add the dry red chillies, then add the dal, once they are a bit done then add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the curry leaves and pour over the coconut paste. Your chutney is ready to eat with idli.
Recipe Notes

1. Idli batter can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

2. Coconut chutney can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days or more if in the freezer without adding salt or tempering.

3. Chutney goes extremely well with idli, dosa, uttapam, masala paniyaram,upma, vada. I like it with steamed rice too.

13 thoughts on “How to Make Soft Idlis”

  1. Another lovely post and made me yearn for idli instantly. You have this wonderful knack of culling out posts that tease the taste buds 🙂
    It was nice to know about the health benefits of steamed idli.

    Reply
  2. Yummlicious post, Idli is all time favorite dish of my family, thanks for sharing your recipe, this coconut chutney pushing me to give it a try very soon.

    Reply

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