Friday, October 25, 2013

How to Make Soft Idli | Tips for Soft Idli | Idli Recipe

Idli and Dosa are the staple meal in all the South-Indian families most especially in Tamilnadu. Amma used to make the batter in the weekends which stays in the fridge always. She takes up a little for day-to-day use. These two are our daily breakfast for most of the days… and she makes a perfect combo chutneys to accompany the soft idlis… she uses Laxmi wet grinder which she bought during her marriage and it is working till now… almost twenty five years or so… and now she switched over to a table top grinder to make things easier…
My first preparation of making idli batter was a grand success. I just followed the instruction from amma, the idlis turned out super soft. After coming to US I bought a Mixer grinder which is very good for making idli batter for a people of two. Even I have the habit of grinding the batter in the weekend and it makes super soft idlis and dosai for the next entire week.
I came upon several queries in many groups and forums about idli batter and thought of posting in my blog. There are several important factors which makes ur idlis soft. I will be posting the tips and tricks along with pics below. Go through and enjoy “batter-ing” 

Preparation time: 6-7 hours (includes Soaking time)
Cooking time: 10 mins


4 cups of Idli rice
1 cup of urad dal
½ -¾ tsp fenugreek seeds/vendhayam

Steps to follow

  • Wash the rice twice or thrice till it turns clear. Soak the rice in enough amount of water (it should soak completely). Never mind even if u add more water, we are gonna use little by little. Soak the rice for about 6-7 hours not less than that. If the rice is not properly soaked, the grinding process will take longer time and will hinder in getting a smooth paste.

  • Likewise wash urad dal once or twice not more than that and soak it water fully covered. Urad dal doesn’t need much soaking time. Just an hour before u start grinding, soak the urad dal. In some times the urad dal will absorb the water and swell a little. Also add the fenugreek seeds to the urad dal and allow for soaking.

  • Make the grinder ready and add the rice without water. Let it run for a minute or so. The rice will crumble by that time start adding water. Use the water which is used for soaking the rice itself. While the grinder is running keep adding water in between to make the batter in a flowing form. Grind the rice till it turns smooth and transfer it to a container.

  • Next comes the urad dal… add the urad dal and fenugreek seeds without water to the grinder. Let it run for a minute and add water to it little by little. Urad dal while grinding will rise and turn fluffy. Water must be added little by little every 5-6 mins. Keep in mind the dal to turn out frothy. 

  • Always grind the rice first followed by urad dal. When urad dal is grinded first it will turn watery by the time we grind the rice.

  • Transfer it to the container. Leave it for some time (half-an hour or so) without disturbing the batter. This resting time is needed for proper fermentation. After half an hour add salt according to ur taste (1-2 tsp is enough). Mix it well with ur hands. You can either use a spatula for mixing. But still, the bacteria in our skin help proper fermentation. Make sure u uses a big container, because the batter will get fermented and will rise. Give enough space for fermentation process to take place properly.

  • When I was in Minnesota I had the tough time for fermentation. The temperature there always drops down to minus and I need to wait for a day to get fermented properly. But here in California the temperature is nominal and there is no need to worry about ferment. Normally it takes around 10-12hrs for fermenting in Chennai.  

  • Always grind the batter the day before u need and it will be ready for ur morning breakfast when u leave it overnight. The next day mix the batter gently… because the heavier rice batter will settle at the bottom and urad dal will remain in the top. So mix it well.
  • The batter should be in flowing stage. If it is very thick, idlis will turn out hard. If it is in a diluted form, it will turn the idli’s flat. So the consistency is very important. Check the pics below.

  • Grease the idli plates with oil and pour the batter to the idli mold as seen below.
  • Heat 1-2 cup of water in the idli cooker and place the mold into it. Leave it undisturbed for 10 mins and then check with a tooth pick as we do for the cakes. Or just insert a spoon/fork into it to check wheather it is cooked.

  • Once it is done switch off the stove and take-out the mold alone. Allow it to cool for some time… (This will help the idli from sticking with the mold). Always use wet spoon for removing the idlis from the mold. Amma used to dunk the spoon each time to remove the idlis.
  • Serve hot with any side dish of choice.

Tips for proper fermentation

  1. If ur living in cold place it is very tough for the batter to get fermented easily. I have some tricks to get it right.
  2. Place the container in ur microwave (don’t turn it on) or if u have convection oven keep the container inside that with the lights on. The heat inside the oven gives proper environment for the bacteria to act on the batter and ferments it.
  3. U can also use the stem part of the green chillies to quicken the fermentation. Just through the green chillies stem to the batter and leave it over night. The batter is raise definitely the next day. This was the trick which my amma gave when I was in Minnesota.
  4. I have heard of adding curd to the batter for fermenting. But I haven’t tried it yet and I don’t have any idea how it works.
  5. If you the left over batter, you can even add it to the fresh ones. Just a tsp is enough… this acts as a culture.
  6. Adding enough salt matters a lot for fermentation. Always leave the batter undisturbed for 15-20 mins before adding the salt.

Tips to get softer idlis

  1. If u follow the steps which I have mentioned above, definitely u will get the soft idlis. To make it much softer you can add poha/aval to the rice while grinding. This makes the idlis softer.
  2. Adding cooked rice to the grinder, mashing it and mixing with the batter also makes the idlis softer. Just a cup is enough for adding.
  3. *These two tricks were not tried by me.
  4. Adding cooking soda makes the idlis softer and helps to turn pure white in color. But still it is not advisable for health. Cooking soda will lead to stomach upset and more on.

Few more tips

  1. You can use the same batter for making dosas the next day. For dosas the batter should be diluted a little more than the idli batter. So adding little of water and dilute it and make crispy dosa drizzling oil on top.
  2. Make sure u preserve the batter in refrigerator after use. If left as such in room temperature for long time, the batter will turn bitter. So take enough batter in a separate container for one time use and leave the rest inside the fridge.
  3. If u doesn’t want to grease the idli plates with oil, use a muslin cloth to coat the mold properly and then transfer the batter to the cloth. This helps removing the idlis easily.
  4. Even though all the points are followed, the quality of the urad dal and rice is so important for making soft idlis. Use whole urad dal for making idlis and not the broken ones. Sometimes the color of the idlis will turn pale yellow this is because of the quality of the rice and also the urad dal.
  5. Follow these steps and Happy Idli Making!!!