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+ servings
top shot of well fermented idli batter

Idli Batter Recipe

step by step recipe that shares how to make idli batter at home with idli rava, the exact measurements and ratio of ingredients, along with tips on grinding the batter (grinder vs blender), and how to ferment idli batter quickly
Course Breakfast, Kitchen Basics
Cuisine Indian, South Indian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 50 idlis
Calories 1974kcal



  • 1 cup urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi)
  • 2 cup cold water for grinding
  • cup idli rava
  • 2 teaspoon non iodized salt sea salt or rock salt


Washing & Soaking Urad Dal

  • Wash and rinse urad dal a few times, until the water is not so cloudy anymore, and then strain the water.
  • Add fenugreek seeds / methi to washed & rinsed urad dal, and soak it in lots of fresh water (for 1 cup urad dal, use at-least 3 times the water).
  • Let it soak for a minimum of 6-8 hours, but ideal to leave it to soak for 8-10 hours.
  • When done, wash & rinse the urad dal once more, and drain all the water.
  • The dal is now ready for grinding.

Method 1: Grinding Urad Dal (using stone grinder)

  • Wet the grinder with a little water, and then add in the soaked urad dal and methi seeds, along with fresh COLD water to grind the dal.
  • Ensure to use really cold water. This is especially important when grinding the dal using a blender, but best to use cold water even for grinder, because for soft and fluffy idlis, it's really important that the batter doesn't get warm during grinding. You can even add the water in a few parts, to ensure the batter stays cold. (see note #3)
  • Grind till you get smooth, soft & fluffy batter. This can take 15-20 minutes depending on your grinder.

Method 2: Grinding Urad Dal (in blender)

  • In a blender, add the soaked urad dal and methi seeds, along with water to grind the dal, and blend till smooth. This should take only a few minutes.
  • But if using a blender to grind soaked urad dal, it's critical to use really cold refrigerated water. Even better if you can use a few ice cubes. Because while blender grinds the dal within minutes, it also heats it up quickly. And if the batter heats during grinding, then you are more likely to get denser and flatter idlis. Here it is especially important to not add all the water for blending at once, and add it in parts, to help keep the batter cool. (see note #4)
  • This batter will be more liquid-y as compared to the one you get in the grinder, but the end result will be just as good, if you follow all the steps above.

Idli Batter with Idli Rava

  • Properly wash & rinse idli rava till the water is not so cloudy anymore, then drain out all the excess water.
  • Add idli rava to urad dal batter (ensuring to squeeze out all the excess water from idli rava), along with salt, and mix well. Here it's best to even hand mix the batter for 1-2 minutes, to help with the fermentation.
  • When done, the consistency of the batter will be easy drop, not pour. Batter ground using the blender is usually more liquid-y, but even that shouldn't be liquid-y to the point that it flows freely.
  • The batter is now ready for fermentation.

Option 1: Quick Fermentation (using Instant Pot)

  • When using Instant Pot to ferment idli batter, add the ground urad dal directly in the inner pot of the Instant Pot, and add idli rava, and salt to it. Give everything a quick mix, and then hand mix the batter for a couple of minutes.
  • Set the Instant Pot in yogurt mode (normal) for 12 hours. Cover with a regular lid, not the Instant Pot lid. It's best if the lid is made of glass and see-through.
  • It usually takes 10-12 hours for the batter to ferment in Instant Pot, so do check once at the 10 hour mark. When the batter has fermented well, turn off the Instant Pot. (note this is the quicker method in cooler climate, where fermentation can take 18-24 hours, and sometimes still not ferment well after all that time)

Option 2: Regular Fermentation (the traditional way)

  • When you live in a warmer, more humid climate, you can easily ferment the batter the traditional way, by mixing urad dal batter, idli rava, and salt in a large pot, and setting it on the counter overnight or for 10-12 hours.
  • Or if you are living in slightly colder climate, you can keep it in a warm place, like inside the oven with the oven turned off, but the oven light turned on. You can also preheat the oven to 200 deg F (90 deg C), then turn it off, and after 5 minutes, place the batter in the slightly heated oven. I did this for many years before the Instant Pot.
  • Also in this case, hand mixing is not critical, but still a good practice to always do. Especially during the winter months, to give the batter the best shot for fermentation.

Ready to use, well fermented idli batter

  • A batter that has fermented well will rise a lot, almost doubling in volume, and turn light, airy, and bubbly.
  • When the batter is ready, give it a gentle mix, and then it's ready to use.
  • The consistency of the batter will be easy drop, not pour, i.e. not too thick, but not too liquid-y either.
  • Pro tip: Do not over-mix this fermented batter, because with excess aeration in the batter, after steaming - the idlis will rise and then collapse quickly too. Just give the fermented batter a proper but gentle mix one time.



  1. Kind of salt - Do not use regular table salt that has both iodine and anti caking agents that hinder the process of fermentation. Always use non iodized sea salt, rock salt, or even Himalayan pink salt. If you are living in a warmer climate, you can add salt after fermentation. But in a cooler climate, always best to add salt before fermentation.
  2. Fenugreek (methi seeds) - Adding methi or fenugreek seeds can be skipped if you live in a warm and humid climate where fermentation is easy.
  3. Adding water a little at a time in grinder - I personally find it best to not add all the water before starting to grind. For instance, if I have to add 2 cups of water to grind the dal, then I add ½ cup water to wet the grinder, then 1 cup with the soaked dal, grind for 5 minutes, and then add the final ½ cup at this point. Since I use really cold water, adding this last ½ cup also helps me keep the batter cold. This is optional when you are using a grinder, but critical when using the blender. Because the batter always heats up in a blender. That being said, I mostly add the water in parts in a grinder to get a chance to also scrape the sides that time, to ensure everything mixes well.
  4. Adding water a little at a time in blender - When using a blender, I always add water in parts to help keep the batter cool. If I am using 2 cups of water to blend the batter, then I add 1 cup with the dal, and ½ cup when the dal has blended for 30-60 seconds, and the other ½ cup when the dal is almost smooth. You can also choose to add a few ice cubes instead of water.
  5. If the batter doesn't ferment -  then first just wait for a few more hours for it to rise and ferment. But if the batter has not risen or fermented after 18-24 hours (traditional way) or 12-14 hours (in Instant Pot), then just give up on making idlis with this batch, and use batter for dosas instead. And try again after implementing all the tips shared in the recipe. 
How to properly store Idli Batter
  1. Storing before fermenting - You can store the ground urad batter in glass or ceramic containers and refrigerate for 2-3 days. Avoid storing in plastic and steel containers. It might spoil the batter or make it sour. It's also best to store the batter in smaller batches, in different containers, and ferment separately. Unless you plan to ferment the entire thing together, then you can store it all in one big container.
  2. Storing after fermentation - You can also store and refrigerate the batter after fermentation, but this is tricky, as you have to store without disturbing the batter too much. Also the idlis don't turn out very fluffy like they do with fresh batter. However you can use this batter for making uttapams and appams.
Leftover Idli Batter recipes
You can use idli batter as a base to make a wide variety of dishes and variations like different kinds of dosas, appams, and uttapams.
Please note: The nutrition values are best estimates provided as a courtesy. The exact values can vary depending on the exact ingredients or brands used. If you rely on them for your specific diet and/or health issues, please consult a registered dietician or nutritionist.


Calories: 1974kcal | Carbohydrates: 376g | Protein: 97g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2368mg | Potassium: 730mg | Fiber: 56g | Vitamin A: 12IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 207mg | Iron: 33mg