11+ healthy & tasty idli rice Substitutes | try it now!

Idlis are soft and spongy rice cakes made from fermented rice and urad dal batter, traditionally served for breakfast or as an appetizer.

Are you tired of using the same old idli rice and want to try out new options? As a professional chef, I understand how daunting it can be to switch things up in the kitchen.

Nevertheless, it never hurts to try something new, especially when it comes to finding healthier options for your meals.

In this blog post, I’ll share with you 12 healthy for idli rice substitutes, complete with measurements and easy-to-follow instructions.

Whether you’re looking for a gluten-free option, a fiber-rich alternative, or a low-carb substitute, you’ll find an exciting option on this list.

So let’s get started!

In short, " What can I use instead of idli rice?"

Quinoa, Brown rice, Red Rice, Oats, Foxtail millet, Semolina, Quinoa Flour, Millet, Buckwheat, Amaranth, Steel Cut Oats, and Cauliflower Rice.

What is idli rice, and what does idli rice taste like?

Idli rice is a type of short-grained, highly polished rice that is commonly used to make the popular South Indian dish Idli.

It has a subtle flavor and soft texture that pairs well with the spices and seasonings typically found in an Idli recipe.

The typical taste of Idli rice can be attributed to its combination of starches which create a mild sweetness, earthy aroma, and nutty flavor. 

Idli rice is also surprisingly nutritious: one serving (100g) contains around 110 calories and 1.5g of fat as well as 3.4g protein, 22g carbohydrates and 3g dietary fiber.

As such, it can be a healthy addition to any meal, providing energy and other essential nutrients like iron and magnesium with relatively few calories compared to other grains such as wheat berry or long-grain brown rice.

When cooked properly, Idli rice should have an al dente texture—it should still be slightly crunchy yet remain light and fluffy.

To get this perfect texture when cooking Idli rice, it’s important to rinse it before use and soak it for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.

This will help to release any excess starches and reduce the cooking time. Once cooked, Idli rice can be served with a variety of accompaniments such as chutneys, sambar, or curries.

Uses of idli rice

Idli rice is a type of rice commonly used in South Indian cuisine. It is characterized by its short and round shape, as well as its white color with a yellowish or reddish tinge.

Idli rice is often used to make the popular snack food idli, which consists of steamed cakes made from a batter of ground idli rice and black lentils.

It can also be used to make dosas, another type of savory pancake-like dish that originates from southern India.

Additionally, idli rice can be cooked into puddings, savory porridges, or even sweet desserts like payasam.

Its subtle flavor makes it an ideal accompaniment to spicy curries and sauces, while its light texture absorbs flavors well without becoming mushy when cooked properly.

Where to buy idli rice?

If you are looking for where to buy idli rice, there are a few different places you can go. Many specialty food stores carry it, as do some international grocery stores.

You can also order online from many retailers that provide a variety of diverse flavors and types of idli rice.

Best idli rice substitutes & how to use

1. Quinoa 

quinoa is a ideal idli rice  substitute

Quinoa is a perfect gluten-free and protein-rich substitute for idli rice. The texture of quinoa is similar to that of rice, making it the ideal replacement.

Ratio or measurement: To make quinoa idlis, measure one cup of quinoa and rinse it thoroughly.

Soak it in water for about 4 hours, grind it to a fine batter, add in spices and ferment overnight. 

Steam the idlis for 10-15 minutes and serve with chutney.

2. Brown rice 

Brown rice is an amazing source of dietary fiber, which makes it a healthy option for idli rice.

Ratio or measurement: To make brown rice idlis, rinse and soak one cup of brown rice in water for four hours.

Strain the water, grind the rice with urad dal and ferment overnight. Steam the idlis for 15-20 minutes, and your healthy idlis are ready to serve.

3. Red Rice 

red rice is a healthy alternative to idli rice

Red rice is a healthy alternative to idli rice with its earthy flavor and nutty texture. It’s an excellent option for weight-watchers as it has a lower glycemic index than traditional rice.

Ratio or measurement: To make red rice idlis, rinse and soak one cup of red rice for five hours.

Grind it to a smooth batter, ferment overnight and steam for 10-15 minutes.

4. Oats 

Oats are an excellent source of fiber, protein, and essential vitamins, making them a healthy option for idli rice.

Ratio or measurement: To make oat idlis, blend one cup of oats in a mixer, then mix with urad dal to make a thick batter.

Ferment the batter overnight and steam the idlis for 15 minutes.

5. Foxtail millet 

Foxtail millet is a gluten-free and protein-rich alternative to idli rice. It’s loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, which makes it a perfect choice for health enthusiasts.

Ratio or measurement: To make foxtail millet idlis, soak one cup of foxtail millet in water for six hours.

Grind it with urad dal and ferment overnight. Steam the idlis for 15-20 minutes and serve hot.

6. Semolina 

semolina is another healthy alternative for idli rice

Semolina, also known as Sooji, is a coarse flour made from durum wheat. It’s a healthy option for idli rice as it’s packed with protein, fiber, and essential vitamins.

Ratio or measurement: To make semolina idlis, mix rava or semolina with yogurt to make a thick batter, add spices and vegetable toppings, and ferment overnight.

Steam the idlis for 10-15 minutes and serve with chutney.

7. Quinoa Flour 

Quinoa flour is another healthy substitute for idli rice with its high protein and fiber content. It’s an ideal option for gluten-free and vegan diets. 

Ratio or measurement: To make quinoa flour idlis, mix one cup of quinoa flour with urad dal and ferment overnight.

Steam the idlis for 10-15 minutes, and it’s ready to serve.

8. Millet

Millet is a gluten-free, non-allergenic grain that’s low in fat, high in fiber, and rich in protein. It’s a perfect substitute for idli rice, as it has a similar texture and absorbs flavors well.

Ratio or measurement: To cook millet, combine one cup of millet with three cups of water, bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 20-25 minutes.

Explore more: Millet flour substitutes

9. Buckwheat

buckwheat is another substitute for idli rice

Buckwheat is another gluten-free option that works well as a substitute for idli rice. It’s high in protein, fiber, and minerals, including magnesium and iron.

Ratio or measurement: To cook buckwheat, rinse one cup thoroughly, then combine with two cups of water and bring to a boil.

Boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until fully cooked.

10. Amaranth

Amaranth is an ancient grain that’s naturally gluten-free, high in protein, and fiber-rich. Its nutty flavor makes it a great substitute for idli rice, as it adds a distinct taste to your dishes.

Ratio or measurement: To cook amaranth, rinse one cup thoroughly and combine it with two cups of water.

Bring to a boil, then decrease heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

11. Steel Cut Oats

Steel-cut oats are whole-grain oats that have been cut into small pieces. They’re high in fiber and protein, making them a nutritious alternative to idli rice.

They have a slightly chewy texture that makes them an excellent addition to stews, soups, and casseroles. 

Ratio or measurement: To cook steel-cut oats, combine one cup of oats with three cups of water in a pot.

Stir well and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

12. Cauliflower Rice

cauliflower rice is also good alernative for idli rice

Cauliflower rice is a low-carb alternative to traditional rice that’s also gluten-free. It’s an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium.

To make cauliflower rice, chop cauliflower into small pieces, then pulse in a food processor until it reaches a rice-like texture.

You can then sauté in a pan with some oil and seasonings for five minutes.

Can we use any rice for idli batter?

No, not all rice can be used for making idli batter. The most commonly used rice for idli batter is parboiled or white raw rice, which helps to make the fluffy texture of the idlis.

These varieties of rice are typically great in starch and low in fat, which helps the batter to ferment properly and results in soft and spongy idlis.

Also, some people prefer to add a small amount of urad dal, which helps to prepare an even better-fermented batter for making delicious and soft idlis.

While these are the most commonly used ingredients for preparing idli batter, some people also add a few other ingredients, like poha or aval, to make the batter thick and flavorful.

Additionally, adding a pinch of baking soda helps to make the idlis even softer. So, while there are wide varieties of rice available in the market, parboiled or white raw rice works best for making perfect idlis.

Once you have all your ingredients ready, it is time to grind them into a smooth paste. Start with grinding the urad dal first until it turns into a fine paste.

Then add the rice and grind until everything turns into a batter-like consistency.

The proportion of urad dal and rice should be kept at 1:4, respectively. Once the grinding is done, you can add salt to taste and mix it well with the batter. 

Finally, ferment the batter for about 8-10 hours in a warm area. After fermentation, your idli batter will be ready to use in your favorite recipes!

Idlis are great for breakfast or lunch and also make an excellent snack. They are loaded with carbohydrates, protein, minerals and vitamins that provide essential nutrients to the body.

So don’t wait any longer; get into the kitchen and give yourself a delicious treat! Enjoy your soft and spongy idlis today!

Wrap up on idli rice substitute.

In conclusion, idli rice is not your only option for making delicious and healthy meals.

By trying out the 12 alternatives I’ve shared with you, you can give your dishes a new and exciting flavor while also enjoying the nutritional benefits of these grains.

Remember that the key to successful cooking is experimenting with new ingredients, so don’t be afraid to try new things in your kitchen. Happy cooking!

FAQs on idli rice substitute

Q1. What is similar to idli rice?

Idli rice is similar to other types of short-grain, glutinous rice like samba/sona masoori or uttapam/poha (rice flakes), as they are commonly used in South Indian cuisine.

Other alternatives include Basmati, jasmine and fragrant brown rice. This rice can be steamed like idlis or used for savory dishes such as fried rice, biryani and kitchari.

Q2. Can I use normal rice instead of idli rice?

Yes, you can use normal rice instead of idli rice. However, the texture and taste may be different because idli rice is specifically designed to absorb more water and make a softer dough, while regular rice will produce a firmer dough with a slightly different flavor.

Additionally, you may need to experiment with the amount of water used when making your dough, as regular rice absorbs less than idli rice. Ultimately, it’s up to personal preference whether to use normal or idli rice in your recipes!

Q3. Is idli rice the same as basmati rice?

No, idli rice and basmati rice are not the same. Idli rice is a traditional variety of short-grain rice that is used for making South Indian dishes such as idlis and dosas. The grains are usually white in color, slightly sticky when cooked, and have a mild flavor.

Basmati rice, on the other hand, is an aromatic long-grain variety that has a nutty flavor with a lightly toasted aroma when cooked. It’s also more fluffy than most other types of rice and fluffs up nicely when cooked. So while there may be some likenesses between these two kinds of rice, they are definitely not the same!

Q4. Which rice is used for idli dosa batter?

The most common type of rice used to make idli and dosa batter is parboiled, or converted, rice. Parboiled rice has been partially boiled in the husk while still a raw grain.

This process changes the structure of the grains and makes them easier to digest. It also helps preserve nutrients found in the rice. Other types of rice that can be used include sona masuri, idli rice, and poha (flattened rice).

When using any other type of uncooked white or brown rice, it is important to soak it for at least 4-6 hours before grinding it into a batter. The proportion of water-to-rice should be adjusted accordingly when using different types of grains.

Additionally, it is important to note that some types of rice, such as basmati and jasmine, are not suitable for making the batter. Using the wrong type of rice can result in a batter with an unpleasant taste or texture.

For best results, use parboiled rice when making idli and dosa batter. It will produce light and fluffy idlis and crisp dosas with a perfect texture. Additionally, it requires less time to soak than other kinds of rice. Ultimately, using parboiled rice is the ideal choice for making delicious idlis and dosas!

Q5. Can we make rice with idli rice? 

Yes, it is possible to make rice with idli rice. Idli is a steamed cake made from a fermented batter of ground rice and pulses. It is typically served as a breakfast food in South India and other parts of the Indian subcontinent. The preparation of idli starts with soaking the raw rice and mung dal overnight, then grinding it into a paste and fermenting it overnight.

This fermented batter can then be used to make idli, which are steamed cakes that can be eaten as part of a meal or as snacks. To make rice with idli rice, you will need to grind the fermented batter into a fine powder in a blender or food processor.

Once the powder is ready, you can add water to it and cook the mixture like regular cooked rice over medium heat until it has absorbed all the liquid. Serve with your favorite curry, and enjoy!

Q6. What can I use as a substitute for dosa rice?

A suitable substitute for dosa rice is a short-grain variety such as basmati, jasmine or sushi rice. You can also try using long-grain white rice, brown rice, quinoa or millet. Each of these grains will give you a different flavor and texture, but they should all work as substitutes in a dosa recipe.

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