How to Make Rice and Urad Dal (Black Lentil) Idli

Updated on March 16, 2020
ShailaSheshadri profile image

I come from an agricultural family. I love to cook and eat natural and healthy foods.

Soft and fluffy idlis
Soft and fluffy idlis

What Are Idlis?

Idli is a traditional breakfast dish in South India. There are many varieties of idlis; they can be made with black lentils, finger millet, oats, cornmeal, etc. Of all of these varieties, idli made of dehusked black lentils (urad dal) and rice semolina is considered to be the healthiest.

Black lentil idlis are soft, fluffy, flavorful, and mild in taste. They are traditionally served with spicy condiments, like sambar, coconut chutney, onion chutney, or coriander chutney.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Idlis served with raw mango chutneyIdlis in a different shape
Idlis served with raw mango chutney
Idlis served with raw mango chutney
Idlis in a different shape
Idlis in a different shape
5 stars for Rice and Urad Dal (Black Lentil) Idli

Cook Time

Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 12 min
Ready in: 37 min
Yields: 16 idlis


  • 1 cup dehusked black lentils (urad dal)
  • 2 cups rice semolina
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste


  1. Wash dehusked black lentils (urad dal) in water twice. Soak in freshwater for about 5-6 hours. Strain and collect the water.
  2. Grind lentils, adding cold-soaked water or plain water little by little. The batter should become frothy in the last stages of grinding. For making idlis, the batter should be moderately thick.
  3. Collect the batter in a big container. There should be enough space in the vessel for fermentation.
  4. Soak rice semolina in warm water for 10 minutes. Wash and drain the water. Add fresh water.
  5. Squeeze semolina by holding it inside your fist. Transfer it to the container with the lentil batter.
  6. Add salt. Mix with clean hands. Cover the vessel with a lid.
  7. Leave the batter to ferment. It takes about 8-10 hours for proper fermentation.
  8. After fermentation, the batter will rise. Mix once again. If the batter is too thick, adjust the consistency by adding water.
  9. Prepare a steamer or cooker. Grease idli moulds.
  10. Pour the batter into the moulds to cover 3/4 portion of the depressions. Keep the idli stand inside the steamer.
  11. Cook for 10-12 minutes on medium-high fire. If you are using a pressure cooker for steaming, do not use weight.
  12. After cooking, take out the idli stand. Sprinkle a few drops of water on hot idlis. This will moisten them and make it easy to remove them from the moulds. Leave for 5 minutes.
  13. Remove the idlis from the moulds using a spoon and transfer them to a serving bowl.
  14. Serve hot with spicy coconut chutney or sambar. Enjoy!

Important Notes

  • Soak the dehusked black lentils (urad dal) for at least for 4-5 hours.
  • The time needed for fermentation depends on the temperature in the particular area where you are fermenting the batter. The higher the ambient temperature, the faster the fermentation will go, and vice versa. If you are living in cold temperature, keep the batter inside the inactive warm oven for speedy fermentation.
  • Don't add salt while grinding. Mix salt with the batter using your hands. The bacteria in your hands help in proper fermentation.
  • Keep leftover fermented batter inside the refrigerator. The fermented batter becomes sour if you keep at room temperature for a long time.
  • Be mindful of the amount of salt you are adding to the idli batter because you will be serving them with spicy condiments that contain salt.
  • Don't waste soaked black lentil water. Use it while grinding.
  • You can make idlis in any shape. The batter takes the shape of the moulds that you are using.
  • Idli will remain fresh for a day at room temperature.

Photo Guide

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Square idlisIdli made in a vesselIdli served with raw mango chutneyThatte idliCooked idliIdli stand inside the cooker, ready for steaming. Just to place the lid.The batter poured into the moulds.Greased idli mouldsFermented idli batterMixing semolina with the black lentil batterGrinding the black lentilsSoaked dehusked black lentils and washed rice semolina
Square idlis
Square idlis
Idli made in a vessel
Idli made in a vessel
Idli served with raw mango chutney
Idli served with raw mango chutney
Thatte idli
Thatte idli
Cooked idli
Cooked idli
Idli stand inside the cooker, ready for steaming. Just to place the lid.
Idli stand inside the cooker, ready for steaming. Just to place the lid.
The batter poured into the moulds.
The batter poured into the moulds.
Greased idli moulds
Greased idli moulds
Fermented idli batter
Fermented idli batter
Mixing semolina with the black lentil batter
Mixing semolina with the black lentil batter
Grinding the black lentils
Grinding the black lentils
Soaked dehusked black lentils and washed rice semolina
Soaked dehusked black lentils and washed rice semolina

Nutritional Information

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 2 idlis
Calories 69
Calories from Fat18
% Daily Value *
Fat 2 g3%
Carbohydrates 15 g5%
Sugar 0 g
Fiber 4 g16%
Protein 4 g8%
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 30 mg1%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.


Submit a Comment
  • ShailaSheshadri profile imageAUTHOR


    3 years ago from Bengaluru

    Thanks for reading my article about making idlis. They make a very healthy breakfast. Try this recipe.

  • profile image

    Cooper Harrison 

    3 years ago from San Francisco, CA

    Never tried these, but I want to make them soon!


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