Brown Rice Idli Recipe, Soft Brown Rice Idli


Its been really quiet here at Kannamma Cooks for the past few weeks. We just moved from Hong Kong and we are now settling down in Bengaluru. I have moved 7 homes in the past 10 years. Now, that’s not COOL at all! My friends make fun of me saying that Vinodh takes me on yearly vacation to different places. I am finally happy to be back in Bangalore and we are slowly settling down. Its going to be a little slow this month but I promise to make up in the coming weeks. I am trying to include as much whole grain as possible in our diet and this brown rice idli is really perfect. I have some neat tricks to get soft brown rice idlis. I am sharing it with you all today. This recipe makes excellent brown rice idlis that are so soft that one would not find any difference from the usual idlis except for the colour.

If you are making Idli for the first time, Please READ this post before you begin.
You can grind the batter for the recipe in a mixie / food processor and can still get good idlis but grinding the batter in the wet grinder produces the softest texture on the idlis. My wet grinder is close to 15 yrs old and still going strong. When it comes to wet grinders, I recommend the brand Ultra. Its also manufactured in my home town – Coimbatore.


Here is how to do it.
The secret to good soft brown rice idlis is the avalakki / aval / poha. Poha is soaked and ground and added to the batter. Poha makes all the difference. I even add poha / aval to my regular idli batter and the texture is unbeatable.


Wash and soak the urad dal, fenugreek seeds, rice for 3-4 hours in lots of water. Soak the poha / aval in one cup of water for half an hour before grinding. The fenugreek seeds and urad dal can be soaked together.


Now lets grind.
The key to good idli batter is to use very minimal water while grinding. If the batter becomes watery, the idlis from watery batter will be flat and hard later.

Grind the urad dal and fenugreek seeds in the wet grinder adding 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water. Do not add all of the water at once. Add in two intervals. Grind the urad dal for at-least 20 minutes till it has fluffed up in volume and its smooth. Transfer the batter to a bowl.


Do not drain the water from the aval / poha if any. Grind to a smooth paste along with the water. It will take about 10 minutes. If the poha is getting too dry while grinding, sprinkle little water to the grinding bowl. Transfer the batter to the bowl and mix it along with the ground urad dal. One can also grind the poha along with the rice. Both ways works just fine.


Drain the water from the brown rice and grind the rice in the wet grinder. ย It will take about 20 minutes in the wet grinder. Add 1/2 – 3/4 cup water while grinding. The lesser, the better. Transfer the batter to the aval-dal mixture and mix well.


Add in the salt. Mix the batter well (preferably with hands – they are the worlds best spatula – isnt it?) and cover the bowl with a lid.

Keep the bowl in a warm and draft free place and allow it to ferment for 6-8 hours. The batter would rise and be very bubbly. Mix the batter well and the batter is now ready for making idlis. Store the batter in the refrigerator and use it in 3 days.


Lets make idli.

Put some water in an idly vessel and put it on medium flame. Oil the idli plate and gently fill the rounds with the batter. Put it inside the idly vessel and let it steam for 6-7 minutes. The idlis are ready if a spoon inserted in the middle of an idli comes out without wet batter.


The key to good idlis โ€“ Do not allow it to over cook. It might become hard and dry. Just keep an eye and remove the idlis after 6-7 minutes. Do not remove the idlis from the idli plate immediately. It might stick. Leave it undisturbed for 4-5 minutes and then spoon it out. Serve hot with your favorite chutney and sambar.

Annapoorna Hotel Style Sambar

The one common comment I get from a lot of readers is that, their idlies did not rise and the idlies were flat. The main reason is watery or runny batter. Watery batter will not rise and the idlies will be hard and flat. So use caution while grinding and do not add too much water while grinding. The batter will thin out a little after fermentation. So a BIG CAUTION on using water. Please use correct measurements as mentioned in the recipe.ย 

If the idlies are hard, it means the batter was too thick. Dilute with little water. The consistency of the batter is very important.


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Brown Rice Idli Recipe, Soft Brown Rice Idli

Recipe for soft brown rice idli made with unpolished brown rice and urad dal. Its rich in fiber and nutrient dense.

  • Total Time: 10 hours 10 mins
  • Yield: 40 idlis 1x


  • 1/2 cup whole white unpolished urad dal
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3/4 cup brown poha / aval
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 2 teaspoon rock salt


  1. Wash and soak the urad dal, fenugreek seeds, rice for 3-4 hours in lots of water. Soak the poha / aval in one cup of water.
  2. Drain the water from urad dal and grind the urad dal in the wet grinder adding 1/4 cup of water. Set aside.
  3. Do not drain the water from the aval / poha if any. Grind to a smooth paste. Add couple of tablespoon of water only if necessary. Mix it with the urad dal batter.
  4. Drain the water from the brown rice and grind the rice in the wet grinder. Add 1/2 – 3/4 cup water while grinding. The lesser, the better. Add to the aval – urad dal batter.
  5. Add in the salt. Mix the batter well.
  6. Keep the bowl in a warm and draft free place and allow it to ferment for 6-8 hours.
  • Author: Kannamma - Suguna Vinodh
  • Prep Time: 10 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: Idli
  • Cuisine: Tamilnadu


87 thoughts on “Brown Rice Idli Recipe, Soft Brown Rice Idli”

  1. Hi,
    I am from Kerala and now in USA for my daughter’s delivery. I saw your brown rice idli recipe. I have the Ultra grinder here.But the rice I have is “Nishki” brown rice of USA. Is it possible to use this for idlis? Same proportion will work? I don’t have any idea about this rice. As I have a lot of this variety I am asking this. Please help

  2. Hello mam,

    I just need small clarification.. There are lot of varieties in brown riceโ€ฆ like sona masoori , brown idli rice.. which one to use?

  3. Hi Kannamma,
    Please tell me the best source to buy brown poha online. I am having trouble finding it. Thank you so much!

  4. The idlis are not soft and are gooey.. the dosas are good. What should I do to make the Idlies fluffy ?

  5. Mayavi Khandelwal

    I tried the brown rice idlis with parboiled brown rice and they turned out superb! Thanks for the detailed instructions on how much water to use. I followed it mostly but had to add more water to blend the poha as it was just becoming a gooey ball. The end result was superb! Thanks so much for this recipe!

  6. Mam if i want to make dosa of the same batter do i need to grind anything extra.. or these ingredients will make dosa gud

      1. Mam my brown rice aval took lot of time to grind in wet grinder.
        Mine is also ultra grinder

          1. Ok mam nd if m.making dosa can I grind batter in mixer. As I make a very small batch for my hubby nd myself

  7. Meera Ananda Kumar

    Hi Suguna, Thanks for this recipe. Can this idli batter be used to make appe?

  8. Angel Amirian

    Thank you for wonderful recipes that you post. Can you use this recipe to make Dosa as well or is it just to make idlis? Thanks!

  9. Hi,
    Thank you for this recipe.
    1/ Is the poha also soaked for the same amount of time as the brown rice and urad daal?
    2/ Is it ok if I soak it for more than the 3-4 hours mentioned? Would 12-16 do any damage? I live in a cold place.
    thank you!

    1. 1. You do not need to soak poha for long. Infact these days, I first powder the poha and add enough water and make a paste and add it to the batter. It works much better.
      2. Soaking for that long is not recommended

  10. Malati Rajagopalan

    Hi Suguna Tried the brown rice idli today and they came out super soft and tasty, I made slight variation by adding parboiled rice 1/2 cup and 1 1/2 cup brown rice and all other ingredients as per your recipe. Thanks for this wonderful recipe do keep posting some more brown rice recipes,

  11. Suguna Murthy

    Hi Suguna
    I tried this recipe. Used the same measurements as you mentioned. Used the wet grinder to grind.
    Idlies came out sticky and flat. My doubts are
    1. Is my urad dal quantity was in excess after grinding?
    2. What should I do now to make the Idlies soft and fluffy? Soak some Idli rice, grind and add to the batter or just add some rice flour?
    Kindly advice.
    Thanks Suguna.
    Suguna Murthy

    1. Hi Suguna Murthy,
      What rice did you use.
      Brown rice and red rice are not the same.
      If you used red rice / Kerala matta rice etc…. you wont get the same results.
      These rice produce a gummy / sticky texture that is not very desirable in idlis.
      Thank you.

      1. Suguna Murthy

        Hi Suguna
        Thanks for the reply. I used the brown rice as you showed in the pict. Not matta rice.
        And for the correction, I added some half cup of semolina and mixed with the batter and left for 15min and made idlis. To my surprise it came out very well. Thought I should share with you.
        Thank you so much for the recipe.
        Suguna Murthy

  12. Hi Kannamma,

    I am curious to know why you have grounded urad dal and rice separately. Is there any specific reason? If not, can I combine everything and soak and grind it together?

    1. Grinding urad dal separately makes for a very lite and fluffy batter. Putting everything together will not give you real soft texture of the idlis.

  13. Hi, I have a question. Is red poha the same as brown poha? At the store that I went to, they only had regular white poha and red. I got the red one. Thanks, for this recipe. We love idli and I have been wanting to try a whole foods version.

      1. Hi Suguna,
        Thank you for the recipe. I do not have access to Poha, could I substitute it with Sabudana/Sago instead? If yes, what should be the quantity? Thanks in advance.

  14. Hi Suguna!
    Sorry if it’s been asked but is it possible to skip adding poha? I don’t find it here in Italy. For the brown rice, I found a parboiled brown rice. Do you think it could work?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Sheerja,
      you can skip poha but the idlis will not be very soft as the bran in the brown rice makes it a little heavy.
      parboiled b.rice will work.

      1. Thank you! If I skip adding poha would the proportion of the brown rice and dal remain the same or should I add more brown rice?



    Hello Madam, I am so sorry, I am writting to apologize, you must have been shocked when you read my message starting with I am soooo disapointed. I didn’t mean to hurt you, I am so impulsive sometimes that I don’t realise what I am saying. When I saw your recipe I immediately went to buy the grinder in the indian area in Paris quite near by fortunately! I was so eager to make these idlis and I have done something wrong: I had put half of the ingredients and in my haste to do them I think I forgot to put half of the flakes! That is why the idlis were so sticky ! Now I understand also why the mau did not rise! I want to thank you for your fantastic blog, I lived years in Chennai but at that time I was young and not interested in cooking, rather in music and dance! I also want to tell you that i enjoy a lot reading you and that all your advices are so usefull for a french woman who loves India and indian food! I did the idli mau again last night It has doubled in volume this morning and I am cooking them now! I am vegetarian and this is going to be my staple diet from now on! Idlis are a fabulous invention a concentrate of vegetarian protein! And especially now with brown rice! I never thought brown rice could be used and this makes a big difference for a health food nut like me. i am sorry for having been so rude. Hope you will forgive me!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH! Have a good day


        I am looking at you “tip” link. So well explained everything. Thank you! One could write a thesis on idlis! As I read on a very exhaustive blog years ago talking about how to make the idli mau rise in cold countries, the last sentence was ” and with all this if it doesn”t work, PRAY GOD!!! LOL


    One more question!!! SORRY! I buy the urad dal in the indian area ( the only non organic ingredient) I see they have some in Germany but not in our backward France…) You mentionned in the brow idli recipe “unpolished” I dont even know if this is what they sell in the indian area. Does it make a big difference? Could it be the reason why my paste didn’t rise?
    I enjoy reading your stories! i will try the idli podi if I become successfull with the idli one day…which I hope!
    Thanks again!


    I forgot to say that for the brow rice idlis I used brown basmati Maybe I should use some other rice?
    It is so useful for a french girl like me!


    I am soooo disapointed , I live in Paris, I LOVE idlis but i am a sort of health food nut eating organic and when I found your recipe I immediately went and bought is the indian area the wet grinder with stones ( premium trademark ) i bought some organic rice flakes ( they don’t look so brown as yours…) did all the grinding yesterday put the paste in a warm place during 10 hours (in a closed place under the sink where there is a heater) and this morning the paste has not risen at all.. I dont know what to do with this paste now… They sell ready made fresh paste in the indian area but it is not organic and I don’t feel like buying it. I shared your recipe on my facebook and already friends asked me when I would make an idli party I don’t know when this party will take place! THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP and ADVISES PLEASE. I did half of the measurments because 40 idlis was too much and was careful not to put too much water.. Maybe not enough? Should one wash the rice and the urad many time before soaking them? I heard one should use the water in which the dal has been soaked in the grinder. I am french and love indian food I lived years in south india…


        Hello Kannama! Thanks so much for taking the pain to reply! I have been very scatterbrain the first time I did your idli recipe… I realised that I divided by two the ingredients EXEPT for the poha!!!… that is why it didn’t rise ( it was in a very hot place ) Then I tried again with the propre amount of flakes, the mau has doubled but probably the flakes i get in France are not the same as yours and I found the idlis sticky. I tried a third time putting half of the amount of flakes you recommend and still sticky idlis… Maybe I should just skip the flakes? I use basmati brown rice maybe should try some other brown rice? Maybe I grind for too long? if I divide by two the ingredients should I also divide by two the grinding time? The consistency is also an important factor in idlis! They should be like little clouds! i really liked the idea of making idlis with brown rice and that is the reason I bought this wet grinder! Maybe you can find a french solution for me!!! Thanks again. Your blog and advises which are so helpful from the other side of the globe!

        1. Hi Florence. Basmati is not a very good rice for making Idlis. Do you get red rice or brown rice, the short grained variety at the place where you live?
          Even if you dont get idlis, you will be able to make decent dosas.

  19. HI Suguna,
    I just love your recipes and the way you narrate. Your recipes are sure to go.You are an awesome cook and a pretty good writer too. Thahiras chicken biriyani is my all time favorite. My question here is, can I use red poha instead of the brown one? I have red poha in stock.

  20. Dharani Santhosh

    Hello mam, how you doing, following your recipes, got good results. Can I use regular white poha in this recipe instead of brown poha?? Fermented ragi dosa came out good, but when I used that same batter for idli, idlis were bad. Do post recipe for soft ragi idli. And post more recipes using brown rice, coz I wanted to include brown rice in our diet.

  21. Hi can I use brown rice flour instead of whole brown rice? I bought a packet and want to use it

  22. hi,
    I was trying this recipe with parboiled brown rice however it took longer to grind with 4-5 hours of soaking. Do you think parboiled rice needs more soaking – maybe overnight?


  23. Hello mam,

    I have a doubt, i am very new for cooking so never mind if my question is stupid. I find soo many brown rice here in Dubai. Could you please tell the variety of brown rice to use. because all i know about brown rice is the Kerala rice. Is that the same ??

    By the way everyday cooking is only with your blog!! thanks a ton for the lovely dishes ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Kerala rice is red rice.
      Brown rice – you usually get sona masuri brown rice, brown basmati etc…
      Use sona masuri brown for this recipe.
      Thank you!

      1. hi, I found a packet of par boiled brown rice..does it need more soaking or more water while grinding? I found it really tough to make a fine paste from the usual grinder i use?

  24. Hi Suguna,
    I doubled the recipe but put only 1 cup poha. The issue I had while making dosa was at times the dough was sticky and didn’t cook well. Can you provide any pointers. It is pretty cold here so I use my oven for fermentation .

      1. I was checking with a friend and she thought maybe brown basmati rice which I used may be an issue. What type of brown rice should I pick as there are many varieties here in usa




  27. I was just waiting for the recipe from you or from Sharmispassions!!!
    Thanks, will try it out soon…

  28. Vasugi Ganesh

    I have been trying out your recipes and they turn out to be the best.
    It was difficult for me to find some authentic recipes of Coimbatore elsewhere…but I was glad when I came to know about your site.
    I keep checking your posts for new recipes in FB too…

    One suggestion…I think it would be great if you could have a mobile app for this site.I feel that it will be easier that way too.

    Between,can we use the same method to make brown rice dosas?

    Thanks a lot and great work!!

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