Steamed Indian Lentil and Rice Cakes (Idlis)

Beyond Curry

Inspired Indian home cooking.

Steamed Indian Lentil and Rice Cakes (Idlis)
  • Yield:Makes 15 Idlis, serving 8
  • Active time:20 minutes
  • Total time:About 12 hours
This recipe appears in:
Beyond Curry: Steamed Indian Lentil and Rice Cakes (Idlis)

Freshly made Indian Idlis, steamed rice and lentil cakes [Photograph: Prasanna Sankhe]

About the author: Denise Dsilva Sankhe is a writer & creative director by profession. But that's only when she isn't eating her way across India. She recreates this delicious cuisine in her Mumbai home, which she shares with her husband, who has long since given up his determination to have salads for dinner.

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  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 1/2 cup dry black lentils (husked removed)
  • 2 cups water
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. 1.

    Soak the rice and lentils in water for at least 4 hours and up to 12. Drain, then combine in a blender with 2 cups water and blend on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl, season with 1 teaspoon salt, loosely cover, and leave at room temperature until doubled in size, about 8 to 12 hours.

  2. 2.

    Grease a small, shallow bowl or deep plate that will fit into a bamboo steamer. Stir the batter and ladle it on to the plate, half way to the top. Steam until a toothpick inserted comes out fairly clean and the cake is spongy to the touch, about 15 minutes. Allow to rest outside the steamer for about 2 minutes. Then cut and serve in smaller squares with mint chutney. Repeat with remaining batter. Idli can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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