Being a south Indian I have grown up relishing the famous south Indian breakfast recipe of all times that is ‘Idli’. Idli has been a regular at our home and I remember how my mom used to make idlis along with hot sambar and chutney and we used to gorge on it. During my school days I used to get special consideration, the day I used to have idli in my lunchbox. My friends would just feast on it and my lunchbox got empty in no time…!!
I am now married in a Punjabi family and when I made idli and dosa for the first time after marriage my hubby and my in-laws were very happy to eat such soft idlis at home. They were intrigued that how I managed to make such soft idlis that they failed to achieve till now. My better half is so fond of idli and dosa that it has become quite a regular at my new home too!!
Idli is a renowned south Indian recipe that is made from two types of rice (plain white rice and parboiled rice) and urad dal. The idlis are round, 2-3 inches wide,fluffy steamed pancakes that is not only extremely simple to make but is very healthy too.
What makes idli so healthy is that it requires the batter to be fermented. The fermentation process breaks down the food to a more digestible form and in in this process also preserve the nutrients and create beneficial enzymes. However, fermentation requires a conducive temperature of about 28-30 degree Celsius.Therefore, during summers the idli fermentation would require ideally around 7- 8 hours while in winters or in cool climates the time taken to ferment will increase to around 10-12 hours.
The ratio of rice to dal varies from household to household. I usually keep it at a ratio of 3 : 1.25 (rice : dal) like my mum used to keep. For 1 cup of plain white rice, I take 2 cups of parboiled rice and 1 1/4 cup of split urad dal (without skin). Both the rice as well as dal should be ground separately. For making idlis I prefer not to make the batter ultra smooth. The batter should be smooth and fluffy and yet should have a slight coarse texture. For making dosa however, you need to grind the batter to a smooth paste.
There are several variations for making the idli batter like adding flattened rice or poha or cooked rice. I have not tried this variations yet but I will definitely try it and share my experiences in future posts! During winters when the proper fermentation becomes quite tricky to achieve, one can also add fenugreek seeds along with the dal. Fenugreek seeds have an amazing property of attracting certain varieties of wild yeast which aids in the fermentation process. Just soak 1-2 tsp of fenugreek seeds along with the dal and grind it together.
The idli can be steamed in a idli maker o in a pressure cooker. I have posted the step by step pictures of making soft and fluffy idlis. The perfect condiment for Idli is hot steaming sambar. I love eating my idli soaked in hot sambar along with coconut chutney.
Ingredients required for Idli batter:
Plain white rice – 1 cup
Parboiled rice or Ukda Chawal – 2 cup
Split urad dal (without skin) – 1 1/4 cup
Water – For grinding
How to make Soft Idli and its batter:
- Wash the rice and urad dal 3-4 times and then soak them separately for at least 5-6 hours.
- Grind both the rice separately adding little quantity of water at a time.
- The batter should be somewhat smooth yet have a slightly coarse and thick texture. Avoid grinding the batter too fine, since the idlis won’t have a good grainy texture. Transfer the batter to a deep bowl or vessel, since the vessel should have enough space for the batter to rise during fermentation.
- Grind the urad dal to a fine paste adding little to no water.
- Transfer the ground urad dal mix to the bowl containing the ground rice mixture.
- Mix all the three batter very nicely and evenly. Check the consistency of the batter by dipping a spoon in the batter. The batter should drop slowly and should not be of pouring consistency.
- Similarly you can also insert a spoon in the batter, if the spoon stands still and straight it means the batter has the right thick consistency.
- Cover the container with a cloth and keep it in a warm place for overnight fermentation.
- After overnight fermentation the batter would be doubled in volume.
- It will be very fluffy with characteristic air pockets. Your batter is perfectly ready to make soft idlis.
- Transfer the required fermented batter into a bowl. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and 1-2 tbsps of water.
- Grease the idli mould with few drops of oil.
- Pour 1 scoop full of batter into each mould and transfer the mould into idli steamer and steam for about 10-12 minutes.
- After 10-12 minutes, the idli will puff up and will be cooked thoroughly.
- Take out the mould from the steamer and let it stand for few minutes. After that scoop out the idli from the mould and serve hot idli along with hot sambar and coconut chutney.