Recipe for south Indian idli


Sambar and coconut chutney are ‘wet’ curry like based foods popular for breakfast.  They are commonly eaten with idli or dosa (fermented pancake) to soak them up.

This is the recipe we learnt for making idli, which is a small cylinder of pressed rice, almost like a savoury cake.  The batter used to make the idli is the same as for dosa, so both can be made in one go.

The batter for idli and dosa
Sebastien posing with freshly made batter for idli and dosa.

This recipe involves using a particular steamer used for making idlies – see video below for more.

The ratio of rice to lentils (uril dal) is 3:1.

Ingredients for idli

  • 600g of idli ponni rice (or a regular medium grained rice makes a good alternative)
  • 200g of uril dal (buy from local Indian grocer, otherwise any lentils will do, but adjust cooking times to packet)
  • water for soaking and then to add to the mixture as necessary
  • salt
  • 2 muffin baking like tray
  • coconut oil for greasing the baking tray

How to make south Indian idli batter

  1. Soak the ponni rice and uril dal for around 6 hours.
  2. Retrieve the two separate mixtures, disregard the water from each and grind each one separately to form a paste.
  3. Mix the two together and mix in around 250g of water, cover and leave at room temperature over night.
  4. The following day, retrieve the mixture and mix in 2 teaspoons of salt.

How to cook the idlis

    1. Grease x2 muffin like baking trays with the coconut oil and with kitchen roll.
    2. Place the batter in each baking tray space and place into the idli steamer, cover and cook for around 10 minutes.  To test if it’s ready, press a fork into the idli and if it comes out clean, they’re cooked.

Sebastien is the co-founder, editor and author of He is a tech geek, a total travel nerd and a food enthusiast. He spends the majority of his time planning Nomadic Boys' travels meticulously right down to the minute details. Sebastien has travelled to over 80 countries with his partner in crime and the love of his life, Stefan. He regularly shares his expertise of what it’s like travelling as a gay couple both on Nomadic Boys and on prominent publications ranging from Pink News, Matador, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and many more. Originally from France, Sebastien moved to London in the early 2000s where he pursued a career as a computer programmer for Thompson Reuters and Bloomberg. He subsequently left it all to explore his passion for travelling around the world with Stefan to hand, and thus Nomadic Boys was born. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

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