Simple and traditional rice idli recipe with homemade idli batter made with rice and urad lentil. Light, simple and healthy idli is enjoyed as an all-day breakfast dish with hot sambar and chutneys, all over India.
Idli Sambar finds its origin in South India but is now popular all over the country and outside. We enjoy it as a breakfast, a snack and also a light lunch/dinner. In India, it is so popular that one can find Idli-sambar being sold by roadside vendors as well as in sit-down restaurants.
Rice idli is a steamed lentil and rice cake and sambar, a spicy lentil broth with mixed vegetables. I do enjoy idli with just a simple coconut chutney or stir-fried with more veggies to make masala fried idlis but dunking them in hot and spicy sambar, remains the favourite way of eating idlis.
When I was working in Bangalore, 5 out of 7 days my breakfast used to be 2 rice idlis with sambar at a joint right opposite my house. That restaurant (like most in Bangalore) had a constant production of idli batter! Rice idli is tasty, simple, light and healthy, making it a perfect choice for breakfast. But it is delicious any time of the day making it a popular “all-day breakfast” dish.
This recipe of idli is with rice batter. The idli batter is made by fermenting rice and urad dal for almost a day. There are many variations to this humble dish. You can make idli batter with ragi (finger millet) and lentils or with rava(sooji or fine semolina) for instant idlis. You can also add some finely chopped vegetables inside the idli batter.
What is the ratio of rice and urad dal for idli batter recipe?
Idli batter is made with soaking and fermenting rice and urad dal in a 2:1 ratio as you can see below in the picture.
While the actual rice idli recipe takes only about 30 mins to cook, the process of fermentation, for the batter, takes more than a day and so you do need to plan it ahead. In India, it is easy to buy fresh homemade idli batter whenever needed but it is not so here in Bucharest. Also, the homemade batter is the best. It is fresh and free from any preservative and extra additives. There are also instant rice idli mixes in the market, but I keep them only for a rainy day. Homemade idli batter makes much softer, fluffier, tastier and healthier idlis than those made with shop bought mixes. A little bit of planning is totally worth it.
How to make rice idli?
- Rice: Any small grain rice or broken rice variety will work. You might see “idli rice” in some markets. Idli rice is parboiled rice that is pre-processed in order to reduce soaking time. You can also make idli batter with basmati rice but that would kind of be the most expensive idli batter! 🙂
- White Urad Dal: Skimmed black gram.
Tools Needed to make Rice Idlis
The mold is a piece of special equipment that is necessary to make this idli recipe. I actually have 3 types of idli makers in my house! A microwave idli maker, an idli making stand that came with the rice cooker and also a stovetop idli cooker. I find the stovetop one most convenient. It makes 16 idlis at one go.
Steps to make Idli
- Soak the rice and lentil for 4-5 hours.
- Grind to a fine paste.
- Ferment the batter by keeping it overnight at a warm place.
- Steam spoonfuls of batter in the Idli maker for soft rice idlis.
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Rice Idli recipe & homemade Idli batter
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- 2 cups rice (it is ideal to use broken sela rice or other small grain rice variety)
- 1 cup white urad dal (skinned black gram)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp oil
How to make the Rice Idli Batter
- Wash the rice and dal separately. Soak them, separately, in enough water for 4-5 hours or overnight.
- Drain the rice and with little water, grind them to a coarse paste in the mixer.
- Drain the dal and again adding water little by little, grind it to a fine paste. While the rice paste is coarse, the lentil paste is very fine. Grind it till there are bubbles in the paste. Add water accordingly but not too much.
- Mix together the rice and lentil paste. Add in salt. This batter should be of thick dropping consistency. Keep the batter in a warm place for 8-10 hours (or overnight). The batter will rise and become sour.
- This entire passive process takes about 24 hours or so.
How to make Idli
- Gently mix the batter once. Don’t mix it vigorously or too often as it would remove all the air in the batter. Rub a little oil on each of the idli moulds.
- Drop spoonfuls of batter in each mould. Add about 1” deep water in your idli steamer. Place the idli stand in the steamer and close. Steam on high for 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat and steam on low for 10 minutes. Open the steamer carefully and check the idli by inserting a clean knife. If the knife comes out clean, idli is done. Else steam for another couple of minutes.
- Remove the steamer from heat and let it stand for 5 minutes. Open and remove the idlis from the mould with a knife.
- Once fermented, the batter stays good in refrigerator for 2-3 days.
- For a variation, add chopped/grated carrots, onions, peas, or capsicum etc to the batter when steaming.
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