How to make Soft Idlis or Rice Cakes


A question often asked is How to make Soft Idlis (Rice cakes) with chutney and sambar? I grew up eating Soft Idlis with chutney and sambar, at least, two to three times a week.Idli is a traditional breakfast in most South Indian households.  Idli is a savoury rice cake that is popular throughout India. North Indians have it even for dinner. 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.

The cakes are round and are made by steaming a batter consisting of fermented black lentils (de-husked) and rice. Due to the fermentation process, the starches break down so that they are more readily metabolized by the body. Digging into a soft and fluffy idli dunked in spicy sambar and covered 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.

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.

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 top place. 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!

The city where I live has an idli selling cart 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. No sambar is served there and the idli is served with chutney and a huge dollop of homemade butter on top. The man had a movie made on him and he has passed on the legacy to his son, who now runs the place.  The place doesn’t have good tables or chairs to sit on too but you can see many cars including Mercedes too lined up outside.

Let me share the recipe for How to make Soft Idlis (Rice cakes) today, the chutney and sambar will post tomorrow.

How to make Soft Idlis or Rice Cakes-


Urad Dal – 1 cup

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


idli batter





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

Remove 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 and place the idli stand in it. Heat the water to an almost boiling point. 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 and carefully remove each idli and place in a bowl. Drizzle some ghee ( clarified butter) over the idlis for a divine taste.

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.

Here are the white, soft and fluffy idlis!


If you liked  How to make Soft Idlis (Rice cakes) with chutney and sambar, then do wait for the recipe of chutney, sambar, and podi which will be my next post.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. verushka143 says:

    Love Idli need to learn to make sambar


  2. Ed Akehurst says:

    Idlees are amongst my favorite foods! Thanks for this! Can’t wait for chutney and sambar recipe.


    1. Thanks for stopping by Ed….Chutney and Podi recipe is up today.Sambar will follow tomorrow. Are you in India?


    2. The chutney, gunpowder and sambar are up now ED 🙂 I hope you like them too


  3. Thanks Verushka…Sambar recipe will be up tomorrow 🙂


    1. Thank you for the recommendation Christi 🙂


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