Idlis form the most important breakfast food for South Indians which is prepared almost every other day or some even have it daily. I cannot think of any other lighter healthier way of starting my day other than with steamed Idlis.
Idlis are one of the most easily digestible foods as it is steamed and no oil is used in preparation and forms an excellent breakfast option.
Typically Idlis are served with coconut chutneys or some other varieties of chutneys and sambar almost invariably is prepared for Idlis.
These are some of the earliest starter foods for infants and toddlers.
There are so many varieties of idlis being prepared nowadays that even hardcore cooks get confused. The proportions is another nightmare for many new comers to kitchen !
For instance the usual combination of rice and udad dal itself has several ratios .
Some use the 3:1,some use the 4:1 , the combination of rice to udad dal. It all depends on how they have been doing it for years the methods passed on from their mothers and grandmothers.
Most importantly the quality of ingredients used play an important role in getting the just right batter. Always use a fresh pack of Udad dal to give excellent idlis/dosas.
The secret to getting perfect fluffy Idlis also lies with grinding and fermenting methods.
Soaking the ingredients separately. Wash and soak in just enough water. Use that water for grinding purposes. The udad dal has been ground thick and pasty which will be blended well with the rice as this batch has been ground in mixie.
Rice ground a little thinner than udad dal batter .Second pic shows batter mixed well and kept for fermentation in a tall vessel to give room for batter to rise.The batter shouldn't be allowed to over ferment, just a good rise with some bubbles is enough to ensure you have a good sour free batter for the whole week. The third pic shows batter has risen appearing light and foamy. Mix it gently so that the heavy batter settled at the bottom will get mixed well .
Now to the recipe...
- 4 cups idli rice or use 3 cups idli rice and 1 cup raw rice....both work well.
- 1 cup udad dal ( Iuse split udad dal while grinding in mixie which is what I do often for small quantities.)
- 2 tsp methi seeds
- a small handful of beaten rice/poha/aval which gives the softest or fluffiest idlis
Soak the dals after rinsing them and minimum 3 1/2 to 4 hours hours of soaking is must.
After sufficient soaking remove the excess water and keep it aside ,dont throw away the soaked water. Use it for grinding. Put all the ingredients into the wet grinder and grind by using little water at intervals.
You can also grind the udad dal first with poha and methi into a thick smooth foamy batter, then grind the rice separately in the same grinder with little water to a slightly grainy texture, then mix both batter well, from top to bottom evenly.
If you are using the blender or mixie to grind, use ice cold water to grind to keep the jars cool. Also use split udad dal if you are using the blender or mixie to grind the dals, it will grind faster and smoothly.
You may need approximately 2 to 3 cups of water to finish grinding and around 25 to 30 minutes .
Do not leave the grinder to do the job and attend to other activities.It is necessary to keep pushing the ingredients at intervals and adding little water to smoothen the batter while grinding.
When the batter is done it should be fairly smooth batter with little coarseness to get the idlis right.
The batter should be thick enough to make idlis and not runny.
After you have done with the grinding ,add salt and mix well from bottom of batter to top with your hands.Just as our mothers and grannies told us..
There seems to be some truth in that. these little tips will ensure you get fluffy soft idlis.
Transfer the batter to a big container as the batter is going to ferment overnight and rise in volume.
Keep in a place away from too much heat .But for colder climates you need to keep near a warm kitchen counter.
Once the batter has risen next morning,stir well as the rice would have settled at the bottom and the top foamy udad dal batter will remain , so you need to mix gently, not vigorously as you shouldn't disturb the fermentation also. and then proceed to make idlis.
Always keep batter in different small containers as you may use them in batches. If you plan to make few idlis first, dont allow the whole container to sit on the counter while you do small tasks, every minute will increase the sourness to the batter,, the sooner it goes into the refrigerator, the better.
To prevent the batter from turning sour especially in warmer regions it is advisable to take the batter out of refrigerator only the portion you are going to use. Dont keep the whole container out for long to prevent sourness.
The best method is not to go overboard and grind for the week. You can do the grinding fresh two days a week as per your convenience to ensure freshest idlis and dosas. This is true for very hot regions.
No point in grinding in bulk and then ending up with sour idlis and dosas and finally uthappa. Your family will never forgive you.
While making idlis and dosas is no rocket science there are many tips and tricks which go a long way in getting it right. This comes only with practice.
Dont be afraid to grind. Once or twice you may not get the correct result but after a point you start doing it mechanically.
Preparation of idlis/dosas
Grease idlis moulds well with little oil and keep the idli steamer ready with sufficient water boiling in it.,keep the plates and steam for 10 to 15 minutes max. Check for doneness by touching the top. It will be shiny and firm but soft too.
You can check with a finger dipped in water and press the idly lightly, it will leave a dent but cooked inside.
Do not attempt to take out idlis from moulds immediately. Let cool for couple of minutes and they will come out well. Take a spoon and slowly edge out the idlis from the moulds.
Serve idlis with Tiffin sambar which has authentic hotel style sambar and chutney/molga podi.
The tiffin sambar hotel style has been given i this blog.
If you do not like to make coconut chutney there are no. of other chutney recipes some of them Iam including in this blog.
Points to note.
Some pics of how the batter should look , the consistency test etc.
The batter after fermentation will be thick, foamy like, and will fall with a plop and not run over.It will coat the ladle well.
When you take a ladle full of batter, it will look like a ball .
The batter will stay in the ladle and not run over..
Take a spoonful of batter and smear a pan to see the thickness, it should be a bit grainy . When smeared, it should coat well.
Finally when you drop the batter in the pan, it will stay and not move around like a runny batter.
Try making Mini idlis and serve with hotel style tiffin sambar on top and garnish with finely cut onions and coriander