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Idli Sambar is a traditional south Indian breakfast. It is made from fermented rice and dal batter and is steamed and served with a sambar a lentil base. It is also served with coconut chutney/dip. Warm ghee karam idlis is another deadly combination served.

This South Indian cuisine is one of our family favourites. Topped with plenty of ghee/clarified butter and sambar is one of the flawless dishes I like to prepare any day. It tastes super soft and spongy and even tasty with the coconut chutney/dip at the sides.

The various ingredients in idli like the rice and black gram dal makes it nutritional too. The sambar/lentil curry is packed with essential vegetables to complete a delicious meal.

A rightly made idli batter can serve the best sponge idli. Idli is made by soaking rice and dal in a proportion and then grind to a fine paste for a batter. The batter is then fermented and used.

Difference between Idli batter and Dosa batter

  • Idli batter is thicker than Dosa batter. (Check our recipe for dosa/Uttapam)
  • Dosa batter has chana dal , idli batter dosent. This changes the colour a bit.
  • You can make idli out of Dosa batter but cannot make Dosa out of idli batter. Idli batter will stick on the pans and you won’t get the perfect dosas. Hence keep the batter separate.

What can go wrong?

Proportion of rice/idli rava and dal while soaking if goes wrong can spoil the texture of the idlis.

  • Excess amount of rice will leave your idlis hard.
  • Excess amount of urad dal will give you flat and pale coloured idlis.
  • Too many methi seeds can turn the batter bitter.
  • Leave the batter to ferment overnight for best idlis.
  • Over fermentation can cause the idlis to taste sour.

So for a perfect Idli, batter is the key element. You can either use boiled rice or idli rava for the same.

Check our sambar recipe and coconut chutney recipe on the blog links.

Let’s check the recipe in detail


Cuisine South IndianCourseMain
Serves25-28 idlisAuthorRasika


To Soak Overnight
  • 3 or 4 cups of idli rice/idli rava (Refer notes)(I use 3 cups always)
  • 1 cup of urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon of methi seeds
  • Soak them all overnight and blend together into a fine paste next day. (Refer notes)
  • Keep it aside in a warm and moisturized place to ferment. (8-12 hours) depending upon the weather. (Keeping the batter in the oven or microwave in a tight lid container works great!!



  • When the batter is fermented it becomes fluffy and light.
  • Add salt as per taste and give it a mix.
  • Now in a idli stand grease the idli plates with oil or ghee and add about 1 spoon of batter in every mould.
  • In the idli cooker boil water and place the idli mould and cover it. Cook them for about 10-12 minutes.

Serve these warm idlid topped with Ghee/ clarified butter.

You can serve them with hot vegetable sambar (Recipe in link)

Coconut chutney, Karam, podi, Peanut chutney, dhal chutney are few other sides served with Idli.


  • You can soak 3 or 4 cups of idli rice or idli rava.
  • If using parboiled rice then 3 cups of parboiled rice and 1 cup of raw rice works well.
  • You can also use any other short grain rice like sona masoori or ambe mor. (texture will differ a bit but it will work)
  • Methi(fenugreek) seeds or poha or sabudana(sago) can be used and will help in fermentation process. proportion same as methi not excess.
  • Secret: If after all this your batter is still not fermented you can add 1 cup of cooked/leftover rice paste to the batter and make your idlis. They will turn out softer.
  • Adding soda is not recommended but if you are using the batter immediately after grinding then you can add 1 teaspoon of baking soda/eno fruit salt and use it instantly.
  • Soak the rice and dal separately. use a high power grinder to grind the batter. Grind rice / rava first then the dal and mix well. Do not add too much of water to grind.
  • The batter should ferment in a warm and moist place for at least 12 hours undisturbed and well covered.
  • Grease the idli stand well before pouring the batter.
  • Upon done allow the stand to cool for 2-3 minutes and then remove the idlis. If disturbed hot they may lose shape and break.

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