Easy Homemade Soft Spongy Idli/Steamed Rice Cakes recipe from scratch

Idli, Steamed Rice Cakes – A Super Healthy Breakfast & a Yummy Dish prepared in many homes in South India. This is one such breakfast we all are so proud of because of its Nutrient Values, Promotes Healthy Digestion, its Deliciousness & is enjoyed by everyone who eats it.

Idli/Steamed Rice Cakes is an age old breakfast dish prepared regularly in Southern parts of India, it is considered a perfect, healthy breakfast to start our day.

It is made of two different types of Rice, Dal (black gram dal/lentil) which is soaked in water & then ground into a batter. Then it is left in room temperature for 12-13 hours to ferment (rich in probiotics). After which it is mixed with salt & poured into small round moulds to steam. Once they are cooked, it is served with coconut chutney, sambhar (cooked dal).

Please do try this recipe, it does take time to prepare the batter but the batter is usually made in large quantities as it can be stored for many days, we can take the required amount & store the rest until further use.

The Idli/ Steamed Rice cakes are so soft & spongy that whatever curry/chutney/dal is served with it, the Idli/Rice cakes when dipped into it soaks it up well & when eaten gives a divine flavour. You have to give it a try.

It goes great with Coconut Chutney, any Curry, Dal, Sambhar etc.

The advantage of this dish is we prepare only as much as we need & store the rest of the batter in the refrigerator for 5-6 days until we need to prepare Idli/Steamed Rice cakes again. They can be made fresh & served hot, who does not love to wake up or come home to pipping hot Idlis/Rice Cakes.

You can also watch my video on YouTube


  • 1 Cup – Plain Raw Rice or Dosa Rice
  • 3 Cups – Parboiled Rice or Idli Rice
  • 1 Cup & 2 Tbsp – Urad Dal/skinned Black Gram Dal
  • ½ Cup – Flattened Rice/Poha/Avalakki/Aval
  • Water as required
  • Salt as required while preparing the Idlis/Steamed Rice Cakes

*This quantity makes upto 45 Idlis/Rice cakes in total.


Step 1: Prep Work

  • In a big bowl measure the two types of rice, rinse the rice twice & then fill the bowl with water. The water should be 2-3 inches more than the rice. We let it soak for atleast 5-6 hours.
  • In another bowl measure the dal, rinse it twice/thrice. Fill the bowl with water, the water should be 3 inches more than the dal. We let it soak for atleast 5-6 hours.

Prep Work just 20 minutes before making the batter

  • In another small bowl measure the flattened rice/poha/avalakki & rinse it once with water & then fill water 1-2 inch more that the flattened rice. Let it soak for 20 minutes.
  • Flattened rice/Poha needs very less soaking time.

Step 2: Make the Batter

  • With a spoon take the dal, drain the water & add it into a blender/mixy jar. We need to make sure the dal quantity fills half of the blender/mixy jar as it is easy to grind the dal to a fine batter.
  • If we use a big blender/mixy jar we can add all the dal & then add ½ cup water (I used the dal soaked water) into the jar to make the batter.
  • We grind the dal for a few minutes & half way through we open the blender/mixy jar & check. We add a few tbsp of water, mix well & continue to grind to a fine paste.
  • After a few minutes the dal batter will be done. The batter has to smooth. It is important for the batter to be really smooth & thick as it makes the Idlis/Rice Cakes soft & spongy.
  • Once the batter is done we pour it into a wide bowl.
  • We take a whisk & whisk the batter well for a few minutes. We do this to incorporate air into the batter to make the Idlis/Rice cakes soft.
  • We set it aside.
  • In the same blender/mixy jar fill the soaked rice. We drain the water & take only the rice with a spoon & fill half the blender/mixy jar.
  • We also add ½ of the soaked flattened rice into the blender/mixy jar.
  • We add ½ – 3/4th cup water (i used rice soaked water) into the jar with the rice. We need to make sure the water level is a few cms less than the rice level.
  • We grind it for a few minutes to a fine batter, it is important that it is ground to a fine batter so that the idli/rice cakes are soft.
  • We transfer it into the bowl with dal batter. We whisk both the batter for a few minutes until they have mixed well & we set it aside.
  • We add the remaining rice into the same blender/mixy jar.
  • We add ½ – 3/4th cup water & grind it for a few minutes.
  • Once it has ground to a fine batter we transfer it to the remaining batter in the big bowl.
  • We once again whisk the batter nicely so that it is all mixed well & we have incorporated some air to help the batter be light & airy.
  • We pour the batter into a big box/container. We need to make sure the batter only fills half of the box/container as it will rise after we let it ferment*.
  • We close the box/container with a lid & set it in a warm place in our kitchen for 12-13 hours (I let it sit on my kitchen counter over night).
  • After 13 hours, we open & check if the batter has risen to double the quantity & has fermented well.
  • Once it has risen to double the quantity & it is over 13 hours it should be done.
  • We check, close the box/container & set it in the refrigerator (please do not mix the batter, we need to store it as it is).

Step 3: Prepare the Idlis/Rice Cakes

  • We take the batter out when we are to make the Idlis/Rice cakes.
  • We pre heat the steamer.
  • We take the box of batter from the refrigerator & we take the required batter into a small bowl. Please close the box of batter & place it back in the refrigerator for further use.
  • We add salt to the batter in the small bowl.
  • Add 2 Tbsp water & mix well.
  • Then take the Idli/Rice Cake moulds & fill ¾ of the moulds with the batter.
  • Place it in the pre heated steamer.
  • We let it cook for 8-10 minutes & then we open the steamer, with a knife we pierce one Idli/Rice cake. If the knife cuts & comes out clean the Idli/Rice cake is done.
  • We remove from heat & let it cool for 3-4 minutes.
  • We sprinkle a little water to cool it down fast & so it does not dry.
  • Take the mould & dip a spoon into a cup of water, let the spoon run around the Idli/Rice cake & remove the Idlis one by one.
  • Place them in a hot case (a box that keeps warm/hot food warm for a while).
  • They are ready to serve.

*Ferment: The batter has to go through fermentation for this dish/recipe. The batter ferments well in warm weather conditions. If you are preparing this batter in summer you can just leave it on your kitchen counter & it will rise/ferment well. If you are preparing it during winter or even on a slightly chilly weather conditions then place the batter box in a warm place in your kitchen. They will take 2-3 hours (15-16 hours) more than normal to ferment during cold/chilly weather conditions.


Sometimes the batter due to cold weather conditions may not rise/ferment well. Please let it ferment for 15-17 hours & then place them into the refrigerator. When you take the batter to prepare Idlis/Rice cakes & while adding salt also add ¼ Tsp (for every 3 cups batter) of cooking/baking soda & they will come out soft & spongy too.

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