Cooking Tips: Here’s How You Can Make Soft Idlis Without Idli Steamer

Let’s just agree that idli is hands down one of the best culinary gifts from south India to the world. I mean, picture a plate of warm, soft and spongy idlis, served with piping hot sambar and coconut chutney (though garlic chutney works equally well for me). Don’t know about you but I cannot turn it away, no matter what. The sheer simplicity of idli is enough for me to fall for it. I have a 65-year-old and a five-year-old at home and well, both of them love idlis to no end. Idli is made of two of the most staple ingredients found in a typical Indian household, rice and lentils. An idli batter is a simple mix of soaked and ground rice and lentils, that is then steamed in a special idli steamer, post which they're enjoyed fresh and soft with sambhar and chutney. However, not everyone is equipped with an idli steamer at home to actually make the perfect round and fluffy idlis at home. But there’s one kitchen equipment that you can find in most homes, which is a pressure cooker. And guess what? You can actually make idlis in that too. Yes, you read that right. We are here with certain tips and tricks to help you get it right.

A perfect idli should be light and not too crumbly. A couple of factors can affect everything from the texture to the flavour of idlis. The softness of idlis should remain intact whether they are fresh out of the cooker or at the room temperature. Here are 5 tips and tricks to make the perfectly soft, spongy and yummy idlis, in a pressure cooker:

1. Type of rice and dal

Fluffy idlis can be achieved by using special idli rice or parboiled rice, which is also known as ukda chawal. If these are unavailable, one can go for medium-grain rice to make the batter. When it comes to dal, whole or split black gram is mostly used.  

2. Soak Separately

One of the most common mistakes that many people make is to soak rice and lentil together. However, soaking the two separately may yield better results since rice and dal need different quantities of water to turn soft and fluff up.  

3. Fenugreek Seeds To The Rescue

Soaking some fenugreek seeds in water until they rise is a tip that some people swear by. As per my mother, soaked fenugreek seeds can significantly improve the texture of idli batter. But if you aren’t comfortable with the flavour of it, experiment with a small quantity in your batter at first. 

4. Baking Soda

Another tip that seems to work for fluffy idlis is that one should always add baking soda just before steaming the idli.

How To Make Idli In A Pressure Cooker

To make idlis in a pressure cooker, all you need to do post making the idli batter, is to add water to the pressure cooker and put on medium heat. The water should be just enough to not touch the lowest idli mould. Side by side add the batter to idli moulds and put the mould into the pressure cooker. Cover the lid and remove the whistle of pressure cooker because steam needs to build up inside it. Let it cook for about 15 minutes. Your soft and spongy idlis would be ready without the steamer.