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A Guide to Perfecting Soft and Fluffy South-Indian Steamed Rice Cakes.

The Indian cuisine is a myriad of flavors, textures, and aromas. The Indian Steamed Rice Cakes are the jewels in this culinary crown. These plump little gems, idlis in the local tongue, are the result of Indian cuisine at its best. They have managed to find their way into the stomachs of eaters all over the subcontinent. And what makes Indian Steamed Rice Cakes so special is their adaptability. Whether for breakfast, as a mid-meal snack or served as part of a full-blown meal, idlis are the chameleons of the Indian dining scene.

How to prepare idli:

Recipe by payalCourse: Breakfast


Prep time


Cooking time





We take a culinary journey into the process of making Indian Steamed Rice Cakes. Please follow the instructions below to make this traditional dish yourself.


  • 1 cup urad dal (black lentil)

  • 2 cups parboiled rice (idli rice)

  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

  • 1 cup rice flakes (soaked)

  • Salt to taste


  • Soaking:
    Wash thoroughly urad dal and fenugreek seeds until the water runs clear. Soak for 6-8 hours or overnight or until sufficiently soaked in enough water.
  • Grinding:
    Drain soaked dal and fenugreek and grind them in a wet grinder or blender with a little water so as to achieve a whipped-cream like consistency.
  • Grinding:
    mix parboiled rice and soaked rice flakes and grind it, maintaining a coarser texture compared to the dal.
  • Fermenting:
    Mix salt with the ground dal and rice batter in a big bowl and mix well. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth, then let it ferment in a warm place where it will rise to double and bubble up, which can take from 12 to 24 hours.
  • Steaming:
    Oil or ghee lightly grease idli molds. Fill each mould up to 3/4 full with the fermented batter.
  • Place molds in a idli steamer or lidded pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat when the pressure is released. Use a steamer for 10-12 mins until idlis get cooked.
  • Serving:
    Enjoy your hot and fresh, fluffy idlis served hot with your favorite dips i.e. sambar, coconut chutney or tomato chutney.

Tips for Success:

  • Do not skip soaking and fermenting steps, crucial for achieving desired texture and flavor.
  • Avoid over-grinding the rice, as it can lead to denser idlis.
  • Use warm water for grinding and fermenting to promote fermentation.
  • Lightly grease idli molds to prevent sticking.
  • Avoid overcooking idlis, ensuring they remain soft yet thoroughly cooked.

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