What is Idli Rice and How to Cook It


People from different cultures rely on rice as their daily food staple. It can be served as a main course, side dish, or ground into rice flour, while others use this as a component in their recipes.

In Ceylon and Southern India, one of the healthiest and most popular rice breakfast dishes is called idli. These steamed circular cakes are soft and light in texture, prepared with a batter of crushed, fermented idli rice and lentils. But do you know what idli rice is and how to cook it?

Continue reading this article to discover more about idli rice and how to make it.

What Does Idli Rice Come From?

Idli rice comes from crops cultivated in Tamil Nadu. The harvest of these crops happens twice annually, during March and September. Producers sell high-quality idli rice for large-scale distribution and restaurant service since customers prefer these because they are good quality and reasonably priced.

Rice that has been parboiled in its indigestible hollow shell is called idli rice. There are three steps to the parboiling process: the rice is soaked, steamed, and finally dried in its husk. It takes place soon after harvesting but before milling. The result is a slight yellowing of the rice.

Which Rice Is Used for Idli?

Idli rice, also known as parboiled rice, is used for making idlis. Idli rice is a short-grain fat parboiled rice that is less expensive than normal grains. Idli rice is pre-processed to shorten soaking time before grinding and contains gelatinized starch for additional texture.

Parboiled rice is a staple in the southern parts of India. It’s more digestible and nutritionally superior to raw rice, so it’s the go-to for dishes like idlis and dosas and drinks like kanji for babies and older people. You can buy parboiled rice in bulk or individual packages.

If idli rice is unavailable, you may substitute basmati or raw rice or use risotto rice such as arborio. These are also effective for making idlis. But since these are not parboiled, they must soak for hours longer, depending on the type of grains used.

What Is the Difference Between Basmati Rice and Idli Rice?

There is a significant difference between idli rice and basmati rice. Idli rice is cooked after the husk has been removed and dried, whereas basmati rice is milled to remove the husk, bran, and germ and then polished.

Idli rice does not have a fragrant aroma like basmati rice. Basmati rice grains separate after cooking, whereas idli rice grains are slightly sticky. Nonetheless, idli rice can be prepared in the same method as basmati rice.

Is Idli Rice Different From Dosa Rice?

Idli rice and dosa rice are types of rice that are traditionally used to create a variety of fermented rice cakes in India. Idli rice is a short-grain, parboiled rice typically used to create steamed, fermented rice cakes served with sambar and chutney. Before being steamed, the rice is steeped in water for several hours, ground into a fine batter, and then fermented for several hours.

Dosa rice, on the other hand, is typically used to prepare dosas, which are thin, crispy fermented rice crepes. To prepare dosas, soak rice and blend urad dal or black gram lentils to form a batter. The fermented batter is then distributed into a crepe-like shape on a hot grill pan or tawa.

Although both types of rice are used to create fermented dishes, there are notable differences in the grain shape, cooking method, and resulting texture.

Is Raw Rice the Same as Idli Rice?

Idli rice is not the same as raw rice. Their differences are distinct. Idli rice is nothing but partially boiled rice while it is still inside its husk. Idli rice has a slightly yellow color, and it is also easier to cook because it is less sticky than raw rice. There are several variations of idli rice across the Indian subcontinent, depending on the rice and lentils used.

Compared to raw rice’s structure, idli rice looks fat, roundish, and often in yellow or light orange tones because it is steamed with the rice husk. So choosing this rice is simple because you can easily assess its quality. You can identify high-quality idli rice by its color and smell.

Raw rice, on the other hand, is polished white rice with the husk, bran, and germ removed. Raw rice varieties include basmati rice, sticky rice, and jasmine rice. This rice contains less fiber and vitamins because the wheat and germ layers have been removed.

How to Cook Soft Idlis Using Idli Rice

Now, let鈥檚 learn the traditional south-Indian method for cooking soft idlis, and you can make them in no time.

Soft Idlis Ingredients

  • 1 cup of urad dal
  • 2 cups of idli rice
  • Water for soaking and grinding
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • For equipment: use a wet stone grinder or Indian mixer grinder and an Idli steamer.

Soft Idlis Cooking Instructions

  1. First, soak 1 cup of urad dal in a big bowl for 2 hours.
  2. Soak 2 cups of idli rice for 4 to 6 hours.
  3. After urad dal has been soaked for 2 hours, drain the water and put it in the grinder.
  4. For 45 minutes, grind, adding water as needed. For grinding, use water in which urad dal has been soaked, which helps fermentation.
  5. Scrape the sides and keep grinding until the batter gets fluffy and soft.
  6. The batter should be put into a large bowl and set away.
  7. In the same grinder, grind the wet rice.
  8. As needed, add water to make a coarse mix.
  9. Put the rice batter in the same pot.
  10. Make sure everything is well mixed by giving it a good stir. Using your hands to mix the batter helps the yeast grow.
  11. Ferment for 8 hours in a warm place with the lid on.
  12. When the batter has doubled, it has had enough time to ferment.
  13. Mix the batter slowly and carefully to avoid disturbing the air pockets.
  14. Stir the batter gently as you add 2 tsp of salt.
  15. Oil the idli plate and pour the batter into it.
  16. The idli should be steamed for 10 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  17. Last but not least, eat soft idli with chutney and sambar.

Final Note

We hope this article has helped you discover more about idli rice and how to cook it. At first, it is challenging to differentiate between different types of rice, but when trying new recipes like soft idlis, you may need to utilize idli rice to taste and try one of the healthiest and most popular breakfast dishes from the other side of the world.