Instant Idli

I’ve been lucky getting bread dough to rise, appam batter to ferment and milk to curdle enough to make paneer. But I haven’t had any luck making idlies from scratch. I have tried everything. The oven light method was an absolute fail. The fenugreek seeds just made the batter smell bad and placing the mixing bowl on a bed of rock salt only wasted said salt.

So one day, I was hankering for idlies, when I thought about my lovely mother in law. She made dhokla the last time she was here, and whilst not exactly like idlies, I thought I could use the science behind it. I searched for a dhokla recipe and found Bhavna’s Instant Khatta Dhokla recipe on you tube.

Based on Bhavna’s recipe, I made up my own instant idli mix.

You’ll need the following for 8 idlies (or 6 huge idlies):
1/2 cup rice rava (rinse in water, let rava settle and then carefully pour the water away. Repeat this process twice for really white idlies).
1/4 cup urad dhal flour
2 tablespoon yogurt
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon Citric acid
1/2 teaspoon Bi carb soda
A couple of teaspoons of flavourless Eno fruit salt (One pinch per batch – see method to make sense of this)


Once rice rava is rinsed, add all the other ingredients except the eno, and stir until smooth. With the yogurt and citric acid, the batter will bubble straight away. 

Idli batter before adding Eno.

When you’re ready to make idlies, take a portion of batter in a separate bowl, add a pinch of eno and a little water. It should foam up, stir quickly and pour into greased idli trays and steam for about 12-15 minutes. Repeat process until all the batter is finish.

Batter with Eno and a couple of drops of water.

Try to resist the temptation to add eno to all the batter at once, if it’s sitting around on the counter-top while you’re steaming idlies, the batter will simply fall flat, which defeats the purpose of adding eno in the first place.

To steam:
If you don’t have an idli cooker, or are feeling incredibly lazy, just grease a silver tray or plate, pour all the batter in and steam for about 20 minutes until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cut into pieces and serve.

I did have an idli cooker, but I found that the trays were too close to each other when stacked up, so when the idli’s rose, they would get stuck on the bottom of the tray above. I love my idlies fat and fluffy. So I’ve gotten rid of my cooker and steam one tray at a time. I heat water in a sauce pan and use a plate or bowl as a stand for my idli tray. Place my tray on top, place the saucepan lid back on and steam away.

Here’s a picture of my idli set-up:


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