Few things to keep in mind before starting:
- Idli is a soft & savoury steamed cake prepared by using fermented rice-lentil (black gram) batter and is enjoyed with sambhar and coconut chutney.
- Idlis can be prepared by either using idli rava or by using idli rice(or parboiled rice). In case of idli rava, the time to grind the rice is saved. In case idli rice or parboiled rice are not available, you may use any kind of short grained rice like sona masuri, parmal rice etc.
- Preferably use the skinless whole black gram lentil also called as ‘Urad Gota’ for preparing the batter. You may even use the skinless split urad dal in case urad gota is not available.
- Generally, idlis are prepared with 4:1 ratio of Rice:lentil while dosa is prepared with 3:1 ratio of Rice:Lentil. You may experiment with different ratios and then use the one which gives you the best results.
- In my case, I have found 2.5:1 ratio of Rice:Lentil works the best for making both Dosas and idlis. I generally use the same batter for making both idli and dosa for my own convenience.
- Always soak rice and lentils separately as they need to be ground to different consistencies.
- Adding a tsp of methi(fenugreek) seeds will help in the fermentation process. Soak the methi seeds along with the lentils and then grind these with lentils.
- I have found that adding 1 tbsp of soaked soyabean lentil paste to the batter really enhances the fermentation process. Soak the soyabean lentil alongwith urad lentils and grind these together.
- Always add non-iodized salt to the ground rice-lentil batter as iodized salt hampers the fermentation process. I always add rock salt.
- Grinding the lentil and rice to a proper consistency plays an important role in preparing soft and fluffy idlis. Grinding can be done in stone wet grinder or a mixer grinder. Grind rice and lentils separately using minimal water and that too only chilled as the mixer grinder gets hot while grinding and heat will ruin your batter. Lentils are needed to be ground very well to a very fine & fluffy paste while rice are ground to a slightly coarser paste.
- Mix the rice paste and lentil paste together along with rock salt. You may adjust the water in your batter to a thick but flowing consistency at this stage. The correct amount of water in the batter is really important. If the water is less, then the idlis will become dense.
- Also beat both rice and lentil batter well for 3-4 minutes with your hands only as the heat from your hands will help in achieving better and faster fermentation.
- Fermentation plays a key role here. Always keep your batter at some warm place in your house to ferment for 8 hrs(in summers) to sometimes 24 hrs(in winters). The batter should either double up in volume or should at least be having bubbles on the top along with a typical sour fermented aroma.
- In winters, you may preheat your oven at 100 degree C for 10-15 minutes , switch off the oven and then keep your batter in the oven to ferment. A bit of sugar, added to the batter, does help in fermenting during winters.
- You may even add a pinch of baking soda to your batter just before steaming idlis.
- Do not use air tight utensils while fermenting the batter. Always use either stainless steel or glass containers. Avoid the plastic ones.
- Always fold the batter gently once it is fermented as vigorous mixing will result in removal of all the entrapped air, ruining your fermented batter and resulting in hard idlis.
- Steam the idlis, pouring the fermented batter to the greased idli stand, for 12 minutes on medium heat or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Never over steam your idlis as they become dry & dense when steamed for long.
- There are many variations possible with the basic idli batter. You may add oats to the batter to make oats idli. You may even stuff your idlis with the finely chopped veggies of your choice or even grated cheese or grated paneer and so on. Just spoon half of the batter in each idli mould, spoon your filling over it and then spoon over rest half of the idli batter and then steam it to prepare the stuffed or sandwiched idli.
- The fermented batter can be stored in air tight container for 2-3 days in refrigerator.
Ingredients: (for 4-6 persons)
- Idli Rice – 2.5 cups
- Urad Gota (Skinless whole black gram) – 1 cup
- Soyabean lentil – 1 tbsp
- Methi seeds (fenugreek seeds) – 1 tsp
- Rock salt – 2 tsp
- Oil – to grease idli mould
- Chilled water – as required (to grind rice and lentils)
- Wash well your rice and lentils separately and then soak them separately overnight. Add methi seeds to the lentils while soaking them.
- Then grind the lentils and methi seeds together to a smooth, fine and fluffy paste. Use minimal water and that too chilled during grinding. Pour the ground paste to a large bowl.
- Grind the soaked rice too to a bit coarser paste using minimal chilled water and transfer it to the bowl containing the lentil-methi seeds paste.
- Add rock salt to the ground paste and beat these together for 3-4 minutes using your hands only as the heat from your hands will help in a better & faster fermentation.
- You may adjust the amount of water in your batter at this stage to get a thick but flowing consistency batter.
- Keep the batter covered for 8 hrs (in summers) to 24 hrs (in winters) at some warm place to ferment. The batter will double up in volume or will have bubbles on its top along with a typical sour fermented aroma.
- After fermentation, never over mix or vigorously mix your batter as it will result in removal of all the entrapped air ruining your batter resulting in hard and dense idlis. Always fold the fermented batter gently.
- You may add a pinch of baking soda to each batch of your idli batter to be poured to the idli moulds just before steaming the idlis.
- Now boil enough water in your steamer, grease the idli mould lightly, pour the idli batter and keep it in steamer having boiling water to steam for 12 minutes on medium heat or until the toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Your super soft & fluffy steaming hot idlis are ready to be enjoyed with hot sambhar and coconut chutney.
- You may store the remaining batter in air tight container in refrigerator for 2-3 days.
‘Cooking for our loved ones with love!’
Link for Sambhar recipe : https://yoshitaskitchen.com/2020/03/15/coconut-milk-sambhar/
Link for Coconut chutney : https://yoshitaskitchen.com/2020/04/19/fresh-coconut-chutney/
Link for peanut chutney : https://yoshitaskitchen.com/2020/03/10/peanut-chutney/