Flatlay of idli with green peanut coconut coriander chutney alongside an idli stand and kathakali dancer boblehead

Idli recipe: easy and fuss-free

by Rasi

Idli in simple terms is like a pillow that you eat. Idli is a steamed lentil dumpling made from fermented batter, that is bland on its own. It is light, yummy and makes a full meal for breakfast or lunch/dinner. My version is an NRI* hack that will be an easy and fuss-free recipe for yummy and fluffy idlis. And no, this is NOT going to use an instant mix or instant anything for that matter. Also will NOT include tiresome grinding that requires industrial strength grinder and/or overheats the grinder.

Flatlay of idli with green peanut coconut coriander chutney alongside an idli stand and kathakali dancer boblehead

This bobble-head was a perfect prop to add to this popular dish from the South of India

Ask husband to buy:

This quantity makes about 30 idlis or so.
– Idli rawa: 2 cups
– Urad daal flour: 1 cup
(Instead of the traditional use of urad daal, the flour eliminates the need and hassle to grind. The results are absolutely fluffy idlis)
– Fenugreek (methi) seeds: 1-2 tsp
(These help fermentation process. Internet says it makes the batter healthy by reducing carbs – I have ZERO idea what this even means and how exactly the methi seeds do this!)
– Salt as per taste

Depending on what taste you love more, adjust the proportions below. If you want predominantly coconut chutney flavour then you use more coconut and skip the peanuts. And a predominantly peanut flavoured chutney tastes just as good too.
– Coriander leaves: 1 bunch
– Green chillies: 1 or 2 as per preference
– Ginger peeled: 1 small piece about 1/2 to 1 inch in size
– Roasted soft gram lentil: 1/2 tbsp
– Shelled peanuts: 1-2 tbsp
(You can choose to include only one of the roasted gram or the peanuts)
– Desiccated coconut (fresh or frozen): 2 tbsp
– Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
– Salt: as per taste

green peanut, coconut and coriander chutney flatlay with peanuts scattered around for Idli recipe: easy and fuss-free

My mother makes this chutney so well and in case it isn’t clear, mine is heavy on the peanuts. Also on a side note, no idea why I decided to pose the peanuts like there is a bunny hiding inside the chutney.

This is how we do it:

  • Soak idli rawa in enough water so that the whole amount gets just about drowned in water. Do this overnight or for at least 5-6 hours
    (Do this in the big food processor jar, which has the blade in place. You will know why in further steps)
  • Soak fenugreek seeds in about 1 tbsp water over night in a separate bowl
  • After the soaking time is up, grind the fenugreek seeds along with the water that it was soaked in
  • Add the ground fenugreek seeds and the 1 cup of urad daal flour to the soaked idli rawa. And mix it all together in the food processor by adding a little water at a time gradually.
    (I use the tiny window in the lid of the food processor jar to add water as the processor is still running)
  • The grinding will essentially just mix the whole thing into a smooth batter in one swift go. We want the paste to be the consistency where it is not watery and is a little thicker than the pancake batter
    (So the soaking in the food-processor jar saves the added task of transferring the soaked idli rawa etc. Ugh.)
  • Transfer this mixture in a container and keep it to ferment for about 10-12 hours till you see it fluff up and rise a little.
    (Psst, the cheat trick is to watch out for that faint sour smell that fermentation brings)
  • Fermentation happens quicker in summer and in winters, it takes longer. Keeping the batter in switched off oven helps fermentation too!
  • Add salt as per taste after the fermentation is done.
Flatlay of idli with green peanut coconut coriander chutney alongside an idli stand and kathakali dancer boblehead Idli recipe: easy and fuss-free

The idlis are soft and actually melt in your mouth!

  • The batter is ready to start making idlis. Or to keep in the fridge for 3-4 days easily.
  • Take an idli stand and grease the pockets in it. Pour the batter in the pockets to fill the pockets up. Pour about 2 cm deep water in the steamer and let it begin boiling. Once it begins boiling, turn the gas to medium heat.
  • Put the idli stand inside the steamer and close the lid. Time this to steam for about 12-13 mins. Once that happens, remove the steamer from the flame and let it cool down before you open the lid.
    (I wait for about 10 mins and that is about it)
  • Take out the stand and scoop out the idlis using a small spoon.
  • Make the batter just a little thinner to make dosa* with this batter
    (Make the consistency thinner for absolutely thin and crisp dosa)
  • If you sprinkle chopped onions+tomatoes+green chillies on to the spread out dosa immediately, that turns into an uttapam*!
  • Enjoy the idlis with chutney and/or sambar and/or idli podi*
  • Throw all the ingredients for the chutney in a grinding jar. Add just a little water to ease the grinding. Check for consistency and salt and the chutney is ready!
Cheat Sheet*

*Non-Resident Indians are notorious for coming-up with short-cut methods that essentially “taint” the conventional methods of cooking Indian dishes. Work smart and not hard, I say.

*Husband dear does not like idli (rolling eyes here) but he does enjoy crispy dosa and uttapam occasionally.

*Sambar is like daal cooked a little differently by adding pumpkin, a few other veggies and a specific mix of spices. Tastes awesome with all the items made from this batter

*Idli podi is a dry powdery mixture that turns into a chutney of sorts when you add a little oil to it. Internet is filled with different variations of its recipe but if you are lazy, the Indian stores now sell a garam masala type version of it too!

Where’s the hygge?

Idli is a healthy, easy and quick breakfast/snack or meal item. The taste is my childhood’s happy memories and love for food all rolled into one. This is actually a classic NRI-friendly recipe for the taste-buds that crave the authentic taste (and despise the half-assed excuse of an “idli mix”) and yet, do not wish to spend hours and effort of going through the traditional steps for preparation.
With my neat trick and method,  the grinding hassle is eliminated to only

Laters, people!

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Mind and Love 04/12/2019 - 5:59 am

This is great, Rasi! I have never heard of Idli. But this sounds delicious and I’m usually down to try something new. Thank you for sharing!


Rasi 04/12/2019 - 6:37 pm

Thank you for taking the time, Roger!
If you have ever had dosa, this is like its steamed dumpling version rather than the flat crisp pancake version.Do give it a try the next time you go to any place that serves food from South of India or has dosa on their menu.

Suman Dhar 07/12/2019 - 12:18 am

One of my fav south-indian dish after Dosa. I do cook myself this dish. Loved our blog.

P.S. I’m from India.

Rasi 07/12/2019 - 11:04 am

Thank you for checking this out! This is my spin on making it a time-saving and easy to follow recipe. Always have loved idli since I was a kid!

Hannah 19/12/2019 - 1:46 am

I’ve never had idli, but this sounds SO good! You always make things sound so enticing- and the pictures just enhance the hunger (guess I shouldn’t have read this so close to lunchtime ;)) great post as always! <3


Rasi 19/12/2019 - 10:43 am

Haha thank you! It is very uncommon to find it at Indian food kiosks and stuff. The batter that makes more widely available dosa, is the one that idli is made of (slight changes). It is light and actually very healthy. Kids love it and when babies begin to it, many mothers feed them idli with plain yogurt. The fermentation makes it nutritious and light!
Lol i know what you mean about seeing food close to meal time!😁
Thank you so much for taking time to check out the post! I hope you get to taste it some time and see how you like it!😃❤


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