Oh Idli…we have had our share of upsets and failures.
I have fought many battles with you, for you…knowing you could be soo much more.
You can be hard, unwieldy, unforgiving. You make me dance to your rhythm, and only yours.
You have disappointed me many a time but I keep coming back to you, knowing your potential, knowing all that you can be are at my fingertips.
You left me frustrated and sad many times after all the time and effort I spent…. honing you, molding you,
I know I can make you better than the last time we met. I know I can.
I put up with your erratic behavior and time and time again keep running back to you.
All out of love.
Oh Idli, be all that I know you can be.
Idli–a South Indian Breakfast staple ( and a finicky one at that)
4 cups Idli rice (Sona masoori)
1 cup whole urad dhal
Water for grinding
Salt to taste
Rinse the rice well and soak in cool water for at least 4 hrs. Rinse the urad dhal and soak separately for 1 hr at the most. Drain off water and blend the rice first with just enough water to blend. Should be little grainy in texture ( for dosai batter you would grind to a fine paste). Now grind the urad dhal. Keep adding water as you grind because it needs to be fluffy as you puree it. This is a key. Urad needs a good amount of water or else you will end up with hard, flat idli.
Combine and fold both batters. Add little salt. Cover and let sit in a draft free warm place. Leaving in the oven with the light on is a good place. Let sit for 8-10 hrs to ferment.The batter is ready when frothy air bubbles can be seen throughout. Do not overmix and deflate the air bubbles.
Before preparing, add more salt to taste. Prepare your idli cooker plates and ladle batter into moulds. Steam cook for 5-8 minutes. Remove from cooker and let cool down slightly. Remove and serve with sambar and chutney.
Tips: (learned the hard way, after much trial and error)
Soak the rice and dhal separately. Use cool water not too warm.
Use whole urad dhal, not split urad.
Don’t soak Urad too long—use cold water…even ice water is good. Too long fermenting can make it lose its fermenting properties. 30 mts to an hour is more than enough.
When grinding the urad dhal it needs more water than you think. Add cold water little at a time. Even if is a paste continue grinding until it becomes light and frothy.
Getting a Dosai/Idli grinder has done wonders to my recipe. There is a big difference in the lightness using this. Invest in one if you do make dosai and idli frequently.
Here is the one I have–
Here are some idli steamers too
Make Kanchipuram Idli by adding chopped onions, Chopped cilantro, chopped tomatoes and green chillies before steaming.
Can add grated carrots and beans and peas before steaming
Add sugar and steam to make sweet paniyaram (usually made in a small round pan for Ebilskivers I used for Unni appam)
Can make savory Paniyaram too–adding chopped onions, green chilies, cilantro leaves