Idlis are steamed rice cakes made by steaming a fermented batter of rice and lentils! It is perfect with a spicy chutney, piping hot sambar, or some coffee. Have this South Indian dish as a snack or even as breakfast!

Soft Idli From Scratch [Vegan]



  • 3 cups idli rice/parboiled rice
  • 1 1/2 whole urad dal (skinless whole black lentils)
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi)
  • 1/2 cup thick poha or cooked rice
  • 1 tablespoon salt to taste


  1. Rinse the idli rice well, soak in 5 cups of filtered water (8-4 hours).
  2. One hour before you begin to grind the batter, wash and drain the urad dal about 2-3 times. Soak the dal with enough water, about 3-4 cups of filtered water. Aso, soak the seeds along with the dal.
  3. Just 15 minutes before you begin grinding the dal and rice, soak poha in sufficient filtered water. Then drain, squeeze excess water and add it to the rice whilst grinding.
  4. After the specified soaking time, drain the urad dal and methi (reserve the water).
  5. Add ice cubes to the reserved water, plus more water as required for grinding.
  6. Transfer 1/2 drained urad to grinder or mixer along with 1/2 cup of water and run at lowest speed of 30 seconds.
  7. Add 1/2 cup water, cover the mixer, and grind again. Repeat 2-3 times until batter is fluffy and smooth.
  8. Next, drain the rice, and grind along with poha or cooked rice in the mixer to a slightly coarse batter, adding little water as required. Do not add too much water in one go. When you touch the batter, you should feel tiny granules. Do not grind to a smooth batter. Transfer this batter to the vessel containing the urad dal batter.
  9. Add salt and whisk the batter for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Incorporate the batters using your hands. The final batter should be thick and flowy.
  11. Cover with a lid and set aside in a warm place to ferment overnight.
  12. In the morning, gently mix the batter once or twice with your hands. If the batter has bubbles in it it is ready to use.
  13. Bring water to a simmer in the idli steamer. Pour spoonfuls of batter into greased idli molds.
  14. Steam for 10-12 minutes. Insert a toothpick into one to check. If they are done, the toothpick will come out clean.