Idli – Soft Idli recipe – How to make Idli

How to ferment Idli batter?

Written by Mullai

Modest, friendly and hardworking.  "Virgoans Rule"..


  1. deejay

    hi mullai
    my idlis come out very well but after having idli from one particular shop i really feel shy to see my idlis those idlis were really white meaning foamy white u can say snow white and so so soft like the cotton do they add any other stuff to get that sponginess and color i heard people add castor seeds is it true please help me

  2. jkpriyadarshini1984


    I make them with ponni boiled rice and sona masoori. I see that u are not mixing the batter and pouring it onto the plate directly.
    I think that will only give soft idlis..illay..since we are not disturbing the air bubbles.
    how do we spoon the batter…should we take the top layer of the fermented batter and pour to our idli stand??

    Please reply panangoo


  3. sirishaG

    Hi Mullai

    Your recipes are excellent .

    I would like to request a recipe for kovai/kushboo/malligai poo idli . It is Extra Fluffy. Can u also suggest differnt kind of rice i can use for makin that idli as i tried doing it with jasmne rice and it fell flat i wasted 2 lbs of rice but still did not get result. so looking forward for your tips


  4. kathy_kool


    The idli looks very soft. Here I dont get idli rice.. Can I use Long grain rice (mexican rice)
    and white ural dal for this recipe..?


  5. jayasudha

    Thank you Mullai, for this idli recipe and also for the description about the rice varieties…really a useful info for ppl like me :-).

  6. bakya

    hi mullai and friends.

    i dont get idli rice here instead i hv ground rice..what proportion while using ground rice for making  idli and dosa..

    1. GS

      I have tried to use 1 portion of dal to 2 portions of idly rava and the idlies were quite good.

      I soak the rava for about 1hr before mixing it in the dal batter

  7. indu Magesh


    I am not able to find Idli rice or any Indian rice near to my location. So I tried making the idli with Pearl Rice,Long grain rice.but it was not coming.

    If you have an idea or tip please advice me how to make a Idli.

  8. jyothijyothi


    whenver i grind for idli, i feel rice will look very white and good, as soon as i mix with urad batter it looses it whiteness and looks veery dull white, which result dull white idly and not like pure white, why it is happening.

    I get good white colour when i grind rice, but i don’t get this colour when i grind urad and mix the rice with urad, is there any reason? or am i doing something wrong in it?

  9. cindy

    Hi mullai,

    I think its the right time for me to start making idlis..
    I have been waiting for the right proportion..

    I hav a doubt…Can we use 2cups – Idli rice and 1cup – urud dal
    Will that proportion do any harm for my batter..
    And also i dnt have vendhayam instead i have fennugreek powder..
    Can i add 2tspn of that while grinding..?

    Will that be okay..
    Please help me in making gud idlis…

    1. Mullai

      Ofcourse you can try this quantity, only problem is.. it will be very hard to grind a small quanity in grinder. Please refer the forum topic for further assistance.

    2. harsha manohar

      try this recipe for idli it works wonders.
      urad:1 cup
      bombay rava:2 cups
      salt to taste
      soak the urad dal for 4 hrs.
      grind the dal.
      then steam the rava in cooker.
      let it cool down.
      then add the rava to the dal mixture and see to it no lumps are formed.
      let it ferment for 10 hrs.
      then in the morning add the salt.
      then make idlis.

      you will love this recipe.

  10. lathakumar

    wish u a very happy and prosperous tamil new year.i have a question,in preparing idli batter,is it necessary to add fenugreek seeds,because color of the idli looks creamish in color.and why to add 1tsp of cooked rice to the batter.


  11. anitha.raja

    hi mullai,

    i m in us now…jus started cooking…u r doin a gr8 job…its too good to go thro this helps a lot…am happy to have bcome a part of this blog..
    my hubby likes idli milagai podi a lot…he njois it wit dosa and idli…i dono how to prepare it…i gave it a search but in vain…can u help me how to do it???

  12. kankal28

    Hi Mullai, Like Jas, I also had problems with fermentation. My idli batter did not ferment inspite of keeping it for 2 days…I am really lost here..I dont know what to do..I followed all the steps that you had advised Jas about..but even then I was unlucky…Feels like its been ages since I saw my idli or dosa batter rise.!! Help pls…. Thanks Kanchana

    1. Mullai

      Hi Kankal, two days is too much time, it should be done by one night. I' m from Michigan, and its pretty cold here most of the time and still my batter gets fermented overnight.  Try Swad or Lakhmi brand idli rice, use little cooked rice or puffed rice (pori) while grinding rice. Urad dal has be very soft after grinding. Preheat oven to 500 and keep the batter covered. It should work. I use ultra grinder, even then, with regular mixie or blender it should work. Keep trying, I've shared all the possibilities.

      1. kankal28

        Thanks Mullai for your response. My name is Kanchana…Even I am in Michigan ….I stay in Jackson, I use Lakshmi brand idli rice…well, this seems to be testing my patience now…anyways, will continue my efforts with IDLI making and let u know the day my idli batter rises !!!

        Thanks again..


    2. Vankai Raman

      Use you cooking range oven. Put your idli batter in it. Bring the temperature to about 100F or 150F for ten minutes. Switch it off. Next morning you will see the batter rise.

  13. vijayalakshmi mahalingam

    hi mullai mam,
    photo’s are very good it’s tempting to eat.
    when i make idli’s it is not in white colour, what is my mistake? i use par boil rice only, ratio is same only.if we give more time for steaming will it change the idli’s colour. is there any tips for it?reply me to get white idlies

    1. Mullai

      It all depends on the quality of rice. Normally with idli rice its would be white and with par-boiled (puzhungal arisi) or Idli rava, it will turn out pale white. Steaming too long will make it rubbery and hard, will not interfere with the colour. Only solution.. good brand (I've tried Swad and Lakhmi) Idli rice.

    2. harika1

      You are right, if you steam too long color also changes. I cooked for 45 min, saw them turn yellow-red. If you cook for 15-20 min only they stay white.

  14. Logeswaran M.

    I have followed your Idli Receipe. It was very wonderful taste & soft. I did a small correction on the receipe that you have written 1tsp Cooked rice? I have mixed 1 cup of cooked rice.
    Everyone loves & enjoyed, THanks for the receipe.

    1. Mullai

      Guess you are from India and there's no need to use oven as the room temperature is sufficient to ferment the batter. Oven is only for people who live in colder places.

      1. Deepa V Kumar

        Thnx…i just started cooking and am totaly at loss in the Kitchen…and i get my recipies from my mom , sis in law  etc.. but none of them gve me a clear idea.. or the trade secret .. whatever…just yesterday I told my hubby " I hate Cooking ".. but today I discovered this site of urs and am thrilled.. Thnx a ton…

    1. Mullai

      Rose, you need to soak them overnight and wash the next morning. Its better to wash as much as possible to remove the black husk. I've seen my mil using this she would repeatedly wash to remove them.

  15. kaviarun

    Hi Neetu, Try it in little amount. When i was in India i used one time with ponni parboiled rice(by mistake). The idli was very soft. So, try in little amount.

  16. Anandhi

    Please, can anyone tell me the tamil name for parboiled rice.It is rich in nutritional values.So I would like to use it.Also tell me tips on how to cook and consume.

  17. durga

    Hi, Generally I use Idly Rava ( cream of rice) which is available in indian stores..Is it different from Idli rice? I don't know.. plzz let me know….thankx

    1. Mullai


      Sorry for the delayed reply… actually you can use any one of them. Idlis made with Idli rava tend to look lightly pale yellow like the ones which we get in restaurants, moreover will look puffed up. This actually is ground Idli rice, when used for this recipe the proportion might change.

  18. diana

    hi mullai
    i am new to this site and my friend told me about ur site
    its really wonderful to see so many south indian recipes
    and the presentation is awesome!!

  19. Sowmya Sathyan

    Hi Mullai,

    I have been trying most of your recipies.All have turned out very well.

    Here is one more tip to get Idly batter fermented soon during winter.Store some previously prepared batter in the fridge and mix with the freshly prepared batter.Some 7-8 tablespoon of previously fermented batter should be sufficient.This is very similar to the way we prepare curds(adding very little curd to milk).Adding this very little well fermented batter will start up the process of fermentation sooner.After this we can keep it in oven or in a warm place.Trust me this will really make Idly batter ferment well there by getting softer idlis.

    This is a tip given by my mother-in-law.It works….

    The picture shown here is very very tempting.

  20. Rupali

    Hi Mullai

    Thanks for such a great Site.i am a North not that good in south indian recipe,but bcoz of ur site i start cooking the south indian stuff..i tried Dosa and sambhar they turn out very well and i tried idli too but it become hard..batter was fermented very become fluffy but was hard..i didnt add any water to batter..batter was very thick..please give the solution for this..

    1. Mullai


      idli batter doesn't require water, but its ok to add little to bring it to the right consistency. Check whether urad dhal is soft and silky after grinding, something like sour cream consistency. One solution is to store in hot pack and serve hot. Try to use good brand of Idli rice like Swad or lakhmi.  Hope this helps.

    1. Mullai

      Here you go

      1. Ok… When it comes to rice varieties, there are many types. Some of the common ones are fully boiled rice, par boiled rice and plain white raw rice.

      (a) White raw rice: These are often termed as "white" or "polished" rice, This variety is made by removing the  outer husk and the layers of bran are milled away until the grain becomes white. (Ponni Pacha arisi in Tamil)

      (b) Parboiled rice: Parboiled rice is treated with a special steam-pressure process before milling. The grain is soaked for 4 to 5 hours, steamed, dried and then milled to remove the outer hull. Water-soluble vitamins and mineral salts are spread throughout the grain, making it the most nutritious. Because of this special steaming process the rice tends to look pale yellow with brown spots. Good quality par boiled rice, which is specially processed for making idlis is sold in the name of " Idli Rice", so this variety can be used for making idlis.

      (c) Fully Boiled rice: Here it is made the same way as par boiled rice except for the soaking time. It needs to be soaked for 8 to 10 hours before steaming. (Puzhungal arisi in Tamil)

      You can use both varieties, idlis turn slightly pale yellow when made with fully boiled rice(Puzhungal arisi), taste doesn't vary much.

  21. Visitor

    Hi Mullai,

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. Idlis have come out very well. I tried different proportions, but this is the best.


  22. Jas

    Hai Ms.Mullai,
    It’s nice to go thro’ ur website with new receipies posted everytime. I made the idli batter, and as u told i kept in the oven after pre-heating to 400degreees. But unfortunately it did’nt ferment at all. I pre-heated the oven again and kept it inside. Still no fermentation occured. Please suggest any other tips to ferment. Can we use yeast? What type of yeast? Because waiting for it to ferment in oven is a long process. Thanks so much.

    1. Mullai


      I wonder what went wrong, but here's what you can try, use 2 pinch of baking soda, which would be one solution but  I do not recommend this. Yeast is another solution, but I personally don't like the smell of it, moreover haven't tried with it to guide you with the brand. So….. I don't recommend this neither. I want you to try it my way one more time

      1. Thursday night soak rice  and urad dal with fenugreek seeds.

      2. Friday morning grind them, add salt and mix thoroughly, keep it close to the stove while you cook other items, may be in one of the spare burners.

      3. Friday night preheat oven to 500F, since 400 didn't work for you, put the batter covered and allow to ferment overnight.

      4. Saturday morning, no magic or trick … should obviously ferment.


      1. jas

        Hai Ms.Mullai,
        Thx for the suggestions. I guess, this is the first time i’m facing this problem. I grinded the batter on tuesday afternoon and still now there is no signs of fermentation. Not willing to waste this batter and so now after u adviced me, i added some salt. Let’s see if it ferments. Can we make idli or dosa’s without fermentation? Will it cause health problems? Please suggest. Will try ur techniques on the idli making next week and i’m sure that it’ll come out well. Keep up ur good work. Please find out the usage of yeast too in this process. Have a great week!

        1. Manoo

          Hi Jas,

          My mom nvr use fremented batter for Dhosai… She makes dhosai immediately she grinds batter… I don't  think so  that u will have health problem… I guess, fermentation is to make is tastier / softer…  But I am not sure abt that…

          But, Me & my bro are not having any health prob though we used to eat Dhosai every day b4 we come here for studies…No matter its fermented or fresh batter, we get holes on dhosai & it tastes well…

          But, for idli she keeps the batter in hot bag during winter time (for fermentation)… I have seen that…


          P.S:- I have posted my moms dhosai recipe under members contributions…

  23. arao

    I am going to try this recipe out. I have plenty of experience making bad idlis that goes straight to trash.One question regarding the watery statement. When you say less watery, do you mean for the rice mixture or the ulundu mixture or both? Also is it one teaspoon of cooked rice?

  24. Kamini

    Hi Mullai,

    I tried your Idli Receipe and it came very well. I tried all different proportions and methods .. but this one is the Best. Also I like your way of Presentation. Please post all your receipes.


  25. anila

    Hi Mullai,
    It would be a good idea if you will also include the amount of water that may be used maximum while grinding in the mixie. (say e.g. 1 1/2 cup – 2 cup water etc).
    This will assist a first time maker to get a better idea.
    Thanks for the recipe… i do make idlis, but flat hehe.. will try again to make the batter less watery.

      1. anila

        Hi Mullai,

        I tried the recipe exactly making it less watery this time… and the idlis have turned excellent.  Its that small tip from you (less watery) which has helped me out.  Thanks so much.  

        For the sake of those who would try the recipe first time, may I add (of course, with credits to dear Mullai)  … that I have used approx. 2 cups water to grind in an electric blender.    On medium-to-high flame… steaming time around 7 to 9 mins per set of idlis.   

        Using the above quantity, I could make 30 normal sized idlis. 

        Kudos again dear friend,  not for the recipe, but more for the gesture and unselfishness to share your knowledge with others.  Superb quality.


  26. priyamohanraj

    Tried ur idly receipe, the flour turns out to be really good and pluffy but i wasnt able to get a pluffy idly when i steamed it. it was flat but very soft. and was good. how to get a pluffy idly.

    1. Mullai

      Batter should not be watery,and will make them look flat. Consistancy is very important to make them look fluffy and turn out soft as well. To be very frank, first couple of attempts will be a flop, later once you master it, you will be a pro. Better luck next time.

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