My perfect idli batter recipe

Idly Batter - South Indian Feast

Idly/Idli – South India’s favorite breakfast of all time! simple and easy to prepare. Ideal breakfast for anyone!

Idly batter was one of the toughest preparation for me when I was experimenting different food recipes for the first time in my life. I was completely new to kitchen. I mean I never used to venture into kitchen. Unless it is for secretly eating my mom’s bhatchanams/delicacies, since the time I was born, should say! I ended up cooking as I had no choice. Well that was 9 years back. Now I have unleashed a cook in me.
My mother-in-law always says, the mood of the person who cooks is very important. Only if we cook with good intention and passion, the person who eats will enjoy the preparation. Sounds weird isn’t it? For me too it was, but it’s her belief and it slowly seeped into me. Whenever I cook something I pray to god that the preparation should be nice and everyone should enjoy eating it.
I thought grinding idly batter is one of the easiest thing as you just have to soak the right ingredients in the right quantity. Rest is all taken care of by the grinder, as long as it is prepared meticulously. One can perfect it out of experience.

My Perfect Idli Batter Recipe

Prep Time 1.5 hours (for grinding the soaked ingredients)

Serves 4-6 people (for 2 days)

Soaking time for idly rice: 3-4 hours Grinding time for rice: 10-15 mins
Soaking time for Urad Dhal: 2 hours maximum Grinding time for urad Dhal: 45mins
Resting/Fermenting time: 8-10 hours 1 cup = 250 ml

I have an ultra brand’s wet grinder, the biggest size available in the market. In which we can grind almost 1.5 kgs of soaked idly rice and approx. 400 gms of urad dhal. The quality of the urad dhal plays an important role in the quality of the idlies. If we want super soft mallipoo/Jasmine idly (the way we call best idlies) we have to purchase high quality brands like Sree gold and Udhayam urad dhal (mostly available in grocery stores across Tamil Nadu). I prefer these two brands only as it gives better yield and quality of course.

Key Ingredients
Idly rice: 4 Cups
Sree gold/ Udhayam Urad dhal: 1 ¼ cup
cold water 2 cups (for grinding urad dhal)
Fenugreek: 1 tbsp (optional – soak separately in 3 tbsp water)
Crystal Salt to taste (to be added only at the time mixing the ground batter)
1. Wash and soak the Idli rice in 3-4 cups of water
2. Wash and soak Urad dhal separately in approximately 2-3 cups of water.
3. Soaked urad dhal should be refrigerated as it helps the batter to remain at room temperature while grinding. The heat from the grinder’s motor will not affect the quality of the urad batter.Urad Dal batter
4. After two hours, run the grinder and slowly add the soaked urad dhal. Do not add all the water, just add half the water that has been used for soaking. (If u have soaked fenugreek add it along with urad dal now.)
5. After 5 mins pour the remaining water into the grinder. Add ¼ cup water after 20 mins.
6. If you think the batter is very thick, add some cold water that you have refrigerated.
7. After 30 mins observe the texture of the batter, it should be soft and should be a smooth paste without any ungrounded dhal. If it still has some ungrounded dhal, run the grinder for 5-10 mins more, until almost 99% of the dhal is ground. (Refer the picture 2)
8. Stop the grinder and scoop the urad batter out of the grinder and keep it in a big container. The batter will double up during fermentation. The container should have enough space for it.
 9. Now run the grinder again and start adding the soaked idly rice.
 10. The tricky part here is that the rice may get stuck under the stone and the grinder may struggle to run. In order to avoid it, add little rice and then add little water. Repeat this step until you have put all the soaked rice into the running grinder.
Rice Batter11. After 5mins, add little water if the batter is too thick.
12. Observe the batter every 5 mins and add little water if the batter is thick or if the grinder is running very slowly. Do not add a lot of water, the idly batter may become runny.
13. After 15-20 mins, the soaked rice would be 80% ground. If you take a little in your fingers the rice, it should be course, like rava. (Refer pic 3)
14. At this stage, turn off the grinder, scoop out the rice batter and add it to the urad batter that you have kept.
15. Add salt to the batter and mix well only with your hand.
16. The rice batter and the urad batter should be mixed really well.
17. Leave it for under room temperature for 8-10 hours (overnight preferably, as you can have fresh and tasty idlies for breakfast)
18. After 8 hours the batter would have fermented well. It would have doubled up.
19. Now mix the batter well with a big ladle.
20. Transfer and refrigerate the fermented batter into air tight (Tupperware, preferably) containers to avoid over fermentation.
Important points
1. Urad dhal should not be soaked for more than 2-3 hours. The yeild
will not be good.
2. Rice can be ground into a smooth paste if you want.
3. Use the stored batter within 3 days. Refrigerate immediately after
using it, to avoid over fermentation.
4. Fermentation of the batter depends on the weather. The weather should
be hot and humid. If the weather is dry, it takes a longtime to
5. If you cannot find branded urad dal, you can experiment by buying
urad dal from a local shop. However, the quality depends on the dal.
For making tasty idlies
 Idli Podi
I may sound silly for telling you this. But, this is only for the sake of beginners who are struggling in kitchen like I used to.
1. Pour a glass of water in the idly cooker and let it boil. Place the loaded idli stand only when the water boils well.
This would ensure even cooking of idlies
2. While the water is getting ready. Grease the Idly stand with til oil and pour in the fermented batter.
3. When the water is boiling keep the idly filled idly stand and close the idly cooker.
4. Simmer it for 10 mins. Your delicious idly is ready.
Goes well with simple coconut chutney, Arachuvitta TomatosambarTomato-onion chutney, Pudina-Onion chutney and
the great Idly podi of course.
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My Perfect Idli batter Recipe
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