Idli is a very nutritious and tasty South Indian rice cake.It is steamed which gives it additional softness and tastes amazing with any Sambar,Coconut Chutney,Chana Chutney or Molagapodi(a powder of Dried Red Chilies,Sesame seeds,lentils and salt) which I have posted earlier.
Basically parboiled rice or termed “Sela Chawal” in the local markets was used to make this lovely snack but nowadays a special kind of “Idli Rice” is available which has all the properties to make soft Idlis.Apart from this Urad Dal(White lentils) are used and they ferment the batter.
In hot and humid climates,the batter takes approximately 7-8 hours and lesser in temperatures over 42 degrees.But in cold regions where the batter does not ferment,there are 2 steps to it:
1.Adding 1 tbsp of Fenugreek Seeds(Methi Dana) to the rice while soaking it.
2.Keeping the batter on the lowest heat in an oven overnight to speed up the fermentation process.
Investments to make for Idli and other South Indian recipes that are made with batter:
1.A wet grinder (Brands – Butterfly,Prestige,Preethi) or a very good Mixer Grinder(I have Morphy Richards).
2.A large glass/plastic bowl to ferment the batter in with preferably a cover.
3.A set of steel Idli Plates which fit inside a Pressure Cooker/Steamer.
NOTE 1- There is a variety of rice available known as Idli Rice which is especially suited for making Idlis.This is available with all Kirana and departmental stores.Just ask the shopkeeper for the same.In metro cities it can even be ordered online.
NOTE 2 – I have used the standard cups from the measuring cup sets available in the market.
Preparation Time : 26-28 hours
Makes : 16 Idlis
3 cups of Idli Rice
If you get Idli Rice its fine to use 2 cups of Parboiled Rice – Sela Chawal and 1 cup of any normal small-grained rice like Mansoori,Kolam or Shakkar Chini or just 3 cups of the aforementioned normal rice)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp Urad Dal
1/2 tbsp Fenugreek Seeds(Methi Dana) – optional
If you live in hot and humid climates,the methi dana is not required.The Urad Dal is sufficient for fermenting and lending the right taste to the batter)
2 tsp salt to make 16 Idlis
1/3 cup Sesame Oil/refined Oil
Wash well and soak the rice and fenugreek seeds(if using) for 12-14 hours(depends on the quality of water – filtered/boiled and cooled water recommended).
Next day keep a reminder on your cellphone and wash and soak the Urad Dal 3 hours before the 14th hour.
Drain the soaked rice and urad dal reserving 1 cup of the water for grinding.
Now grind according to the gadget you have:
- If you have a wet grinder like Butterfly or Preethi,set the stones in the right position and add a cup of the soaked rice and fenugreek seeds.Run the grinder and check if the stones grind properly,else fix and screw them in the best way that they grind perfect.Now start grinding.(Refer the gadget manual for further help if you are new to this).Grind the rice first to a semi fine and granular paste adding approximately 1/2 cup of the reserved water.After this consistency is achieved,take the rice paste out in a large bowl and add the Urad Dal.Grind till a fine butter consistency is obtained adding 1/4-1/2 cup of the remaining water.Mix this very well into the rice and set aside.
- If you have a mixer grinder,then use the wet grinding jar(Refer the manual provided with the gadget).Add the rice and fenugreek seeds and grind till a semi fine but a little granular paste is obtained using 1/2 cup of the reserved water.Take out into a large bowl.Now grind the soaked urad dal till a fine butter consistency is obtained using 1/4-1/2 cup of the remaining water.Mix this into the rice and set aside.
Beat the mixture very well for both the pastes to be amalgamated.Ferment this mixture for:
- 12-14 hours in the oven on lowest temperature in very cold regions
- 8-10 hours in warm climates
- 6-8 hours in very hot temperatures
Next day make Idlis.Beat the batter again very well and use 1/2 of it to make 16 Idlis.Take out half the batter in another bowl and add the salt.Mix well again.
Grease Idli plates with Sesame/cooking oil with a silicon brush.Heat water in an Idli steamer or pressure cooker(without vent weight).Ladle the batter to fill 3/4 of the moulds.Steam the Idlis on medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
Texture of Idlis after steaming and cooling
Take off heat and leave to cool completely.Open the vessel and prise out each Idli from the base with a knife.It should come out neatly.Serve with Sambar,Chutney or Molagapodi soaked in Oil.
PS – I used to have these Idli with plain sugar and ghee as a child.Believe me they taste yum!
Idlis served with Chana Chutney!