If you have come here looking for , you would be disappointed. But I have something even better, the Indian pillows of heaven - the ubiquitous Idly.
If you ever step inside a house, idly and sambar is sure to be on the breakfast menu. Idly is as ancient as the Tamil culture itself. The reason is quite simple. Its tasty and light on the stomach. If you are feeling under the weather, the physicians in South India would suggest idly and . Idly is easily digestible and like the , it relies on natural fermentation.
The task of making the batter right may seem daunting. But with a little practice and patience, it is very achievable. Once you have the right formula for the batter, then breakfast or dinner is a cinch. I am giving some pointers that I find useful when making idly.
IngredientsPar boiled rice – 4 cups
- Always grind urad dal first. Also refrigerate urad dal before grinding. Both of these steps assure fluffier urad batter. If you forget to refrigerate the dal, then grind using ice cold water.
- If you have issues fermenting batter in your house, try keeping the batter in an enclosed area, like microwave or oven, before going to bed. If you still have issues with batter rising and fermenting, warm the oven lightly at the lowest setting possible for half an hour. Then keep the batter and close the door. Check after 5 hours to see how much it has risen. Repeat warming the oven once again if necessary.
- While trying to make the batter for the first time, try watching it during the day. Because once you keep it inside the oven and go to bed, it may rise and spill inside your oven. And you will end up cleaning the oven first thing in the morning.
- Each sack of rice and dal is different. Hence adjust the rice:dal ratio accordingly for fluffy idlies all the time.
- If the batter is tight or if urad dal is not enough, idlies turn out hard. If the batter is watery or if there is excess urad dal, the idlies fall flat.
- I use for making idly/dosa batter. You can also use Indian mixers like or , although you have to do it in small batches. If you don't have either one of these, then try your blender. Western food processors are, sadly, not fit for the job.
Urad dal – 1 cup
Salt – about 3 tspMethod
Soak rice and urad dal separately for at least 4 hours to overnight. 20 minutes before grinding, refrigerate urad dal. When ready, grind urad dal first in a wet grinder. Grind until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Transfer to a big vessel and return the grinder to the base and grind rice in two batches. The rice should be ground fine and the mixture should not be watery. Add this to the urad dal batter along with salt. Mix thoroughly with your hands till everything is homogeneous. The consistency should be like pancake batter. Make sure the batter has room to double. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 8 to 10 hours depending upon the weather. When doubled, refrigerate the batter. The same batter can also be used for making dosa.
For making idlies, idly plates as shown below are used. They are perfectly designed for efficiently steaming large quantities of idlies. They are available in sets of 3, 4 or 6 plates. Though they are primarily used for steaming idly, I also use them for steaming mixture and .
Lightly oil the plates with sesame oil. Fill batter 3/4th full, giving room to rise while steaming. Stack plates one on top of the other. Take a pressure cooker with some water for steaming, about 2 inches. The water level inside the pressure cooker should not touch the bottom idly plate. Transfer the whole stack of idly plates filled with batter into the cooker. Cover cooker with the lid, but don’t use the weight that comes with the cooker. Put the cooker over medium-high heat. Once you see steam coming through the lid, set the timer for 13 minutes. After 13 minutes, switch off the flame and let the cooker rest for 5 minutes. Take the plates with cooked idlies out, and let it cool down for 10 minutes. Beware of the escaping steam. Remove idlies from the plates and serve hot with chutney and/or sambar.Sambar
Sambar is served as a condiment with light meals like idly, , or . It is also served as a main dish and is eaten with rice. Onion sambar, which is my favourite, suits both. Since the spices are ground fresh, it is called ‘Arachu vitta sambar’.IngredientsToor dal – ¼ cup, pressure cooked till soft with turmeric
Tamarind paste – 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Onion – 1, sliced
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Curry leaves – few
Oil – 1 tspSpice mixtureCoriander seeds – 1 ½ tbsp
Chana dal – 2 tbsp
Red chillies – 4
Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp
Grated coconut – ¼ cup
Oil – 1 tsp
Onion – 2 tbsp, chopped (optional)Roast all of the above, except onion, in a tsp of oil. Grind along with onion to a smooth paste.Method
In a vessel, boil a cup of water with tamarind, turmeric and salt, until the raw smell disappears. Add the ground spice mixture and cooked dal and mix well. Bring it to a boil over medium heat and boil for 5 minutes. In a pan, heat oil and splutter mustard seeds. Sauté sliced onions and curry leaves for a minute. The onions should still retain their crunch. Add this to the sambar along with cilantro. Mix thoroughly and serve with idly.
One of the major complaints about idly is it’s a lot of carbs. Portion control is my answer. I have these mini idly plates which make, well, mini idlies. The whole plate of mini idly holds batter equal to that two idlies. This along with a bowl of lentil and spice laden sambar, gives me a feel that I am eating a lot. Plus, its so cute.