Embarking on the Journey to Perfect Idli: Crafting Homemade Batter and Achieving Flawless Fermentation Every Time

Unveiling the Secrets of Idli: Your DIY Guide

Recipe by Annie Tibber


Prep time


Cooking time





Discover the Art of Fluffy and Tender Idli: Perfecting Homemade Batter and Foolproof Fermentation


  • 4 cups of Idli Rice or Idli Rava

  • 1 cup of Whole Urad Dal (skinless)

  • 1 teaspoon of Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Dana)

  • ¼ cup of Thick Poha (Beaten Rice)

  • ⅓ cup of Water for soaking Poha

  • 1 ¼ cups of Water for grinding lentils

  • 2 cups of Water for grinding rice

  • 1 ½ teaspoons of Salt

  • Oil for greasing the idli plates


  • Soaking:
  • Begin by thoroughly washing and rinsing the idli rice with regular tap water, repeating this process 2-3 times until the water runs clear and is no longer cloudy. Gently massage the rice with your fingers before each rinse.
  • Submerge the rice in enough water, ensuring there is at least a 2-inch margin of water above the rice, and let it soak for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight.
  • In a similar fashion, rinse the mixture of whole urad dal and fenugreek seeds, then allow them to soak for at least 6 hours or overnight. Half an hour before the grinding process, rinse the poha with tap water once and soak it in ⅓ cup of water for just 30 minutes.
  • Grinding:
  • Drain all the water completely from the lentils and fenugreek seeds using a strainer. Transfer them to a blender or mixie jar, adding 1 cup of cold water. Blend until you obtain a smooth paste. To check for the right consistency, rub a bit between your thumb and finger – it should feel smooth and sticky. Transfer this to the instant pot liner.
  • Drain the water thoroughly from the idli rice using a strainer. Then transfer it to a blender along with the soaked poha and 2 cups of water. Grind it into a coarse-fine paste. When you rub it between your thumb and finger, the batter should have a slightly grainy texture. Move this mixture to the same liner as the lentil batter.
    NOTE: If you are using idli rava, you do not need to grind it. Simply squeeze out the water from the soaked idli rava and add it to the lentil batter, and then mix. If necessary, add water to achieve the desired batter consistency.
  • Vigorously mix both batters for about 1-2 minutes using a spatula or your hand until they are evenly combined. The batter should have a medium-thick consistency, neither too thin and runny nor too thick. It should be flowy, falling in ribbons that disappear within seconds
  • Fermenting Idli Batter In Instant Pot:
  • Place the instant pot steel liner into the instant pot, and cover it with a lid (not the pressure cooker lid).
  • Set the instant pot to the yogurt mode for 12-14 hours.
    After fermentation, the idli batter will double in volume, sometimes even more, and will become light, fluffy, airy, and bubbly.
  • Gently mix the batter, add salt, and mix again. I added salt later since I am using iodized salt. If the batter appears too thick, you can add a small amount of water to adjust the consistency, but be cautious not to make it too thin. If you followed the recommended water quantities during grinding, your batter consistency should be perfect.
  • Steaming:
  • Bring water to a boil in a steamer, and grease the idli plates with oil.
  • Pour the batter into the molds.
    Steam the idli for 10 minutes on medium heat. After steaming, remove the idli plates and let them rest for 2 minutes.
  • Gently use a spoon or butter knife to loosen the idli from the mold, and transfer it to a plate. Repeat the steaming process for the remaining batter, or store any leftover batter.

Idli is a popular South Indian breakfast dish—a soft, fluffy, steamed, savory cake crafted from fermented batter made with lentils and rice. The fermentation process helps break down the starches, making it easy to digest and beneficial for gut health.

Idli itself has a mild flavor, so it is typically served with accompaniments such as coconut chutney, tomato chutney, idli podi, and a side of sambar. The entire process of preparing idli at home using homemade idli batter can be divided into four stages: soaking, grinding, fermenting, and steaming.

This process can be time-consuming and requires some advance planning. However, there are instant variations of idli, such as rava idli and oats idli, which skip the grinding and fermenting steps.

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