Being a typical South Indian, most of my mornings starts with the aroma of steaming idlies. I dont know why but I never bothered to know how my mom makes these idlies or atleast what goes into the idli batter.I have collected a zillion recipes from my mom from my childhood but not the idli recipe. May be I was so bored with the daily menu containing idlies.
When my mom starts grinding the batter (She had the big grinder which she bought in late 80s!),I used to run away from that place. I had such an aversion for the grinding process.Also since my mom spends a lot of time cleaning it, I thought owning a grinder is really an overwork which is not really worth it just to get the regular idlies.
Even after marriage I never bothered much about the idlies (Ok. who wants to worry when hot plate of idli is served everyday and both myself and my husband used to ignore it as usual).
So far so good. The problem started when we moved from Chennai to US two years back.After couple of days of jetlag my kids started asking 'Idli engamma? (Where is the idli?).I tried feeding them pongal, Adai, pancakes. But nothing worked out.They adapted very well to the harsh winter here but not to the breakfast menu.
So the necessity arrived and I started grinding idli batter with my Preethi mixer. The rice to dal ratios whatever worked prefectly for my MIL and mom did not work me. The batter refused to ferment irrespective of applying all the tips that I gathered from internet
After couple of months of trial and error I started making decent idlies though they were not soft and spongy.Then my friend came to the rescue and she suggested adding raw rice as well while grinding in mixie and also to reduce the soaking time for urad dal. That really helped.The main challenge in grinding the batter in the mixie is the motor gets heated up very quickly which is not very good.I use ice cold water for grinding. Also I used to grind in 3 batches (1 for urad dhal and 2 for rice) with atleast 15 minutes of interval between each.
Idli Rice: 3.5 cups
Raw Rice: 3/4 cups
Urad dhal: 3/4 cups
Fenugreek seeds (Methi seeds): 1 tsp
Salt: 2 tsp
Water: 3.25 cups (approx for grinding)
Combine both idli rice and raw rice and wash it thoroughly
Soak the rice and fenugreek separately for atleast for 4 - 6 hours.
Wash and soak the urad dal for 1 hour
Grind Urad dhal
Drain the urad dhal and grind it along with fenugreek with 1/2 of water for 1 minute
Add 1/2 cup more water and grind it for another 1 min
Add 1/4 cup of water and grind until the batter is soft and smooth
|Grind to a smooth batter until you see bubbles|
Typically when the urad dhal is used in a grinder my mom used to sprinkle the water little by little. This does not work for a mixie.If you dont add water, the blades will not run and the mixer will also get overloaded. So start grinding with enough water
The whole process of grinding urad dhal will not take more than 4 minutes in mixie.
This has to be ground in 2 batches
First grind half the quantity of rice with 1 cup of water until it becomes a thick batter (should take around 4 minutes).It is OK even if the batter is little coarse
Then grind the next half with another 1 cup of water. This will again take 4 minutes
Mix and Ferment:
Now mix both the urad dal and rice batter together. If the batter is too thick add water. Add salt and mix well.Make the sure the container is bigger enough to hold the batter when it doubles after fermentation.
You can also pour it in two containers
Allow this batter to ferment for atleast 8 hours.Sometimes it can even take upto 12 hrs depending on the weather.
If you are in a colder country heat the convectional oven to 200F for 5 minutes.Make sure the oven is just warm and not hot.Place the batter inside the oven overnight.
|See the amount the batter has risen in the morning|
Now that your batter is well fermented, you can really feel it when you take the batter in a laddle. The batter will be very light and aerated.The batter will also raise atleast by 1/3 of its original quantity.
Grease the idli moulds with sesame oil(Do not use too much oil otherwise you will not get the correct texture)
Pour 3/4 laddle of batter in each
Meanwhile pour water in idli pot or stock pot and bring it to a boil
Place the idli moulds and close the pot
Reduce the flame to medium and cook for around 15 minutes. (I use a tall stock pot. If you are using an idli pot, it might even take less time. Just wet your fingers and test if the idli is cooked)
Once it is done, allow to cool for a while.(If you try to take the idlies immediately the edges will be rugged)
Take out the idlies from the mould with a wet spoon.
Serve with hot chutney and sambar
The same batter can be used to make dosas too. Add some water and use it.
- As mentioned earlier, ice water can be used for grinding to avoid heating
- Do not grind the mixer continuously for more than a minute.If the motor gets heated wait for 15 minutes and then continue
- Do not run the mixer when the batter is very thick. It will be overloaded. Add some water and then run the mixie
- If the motor stops due to overload, wait for 5 minutes and then press the restart button(Usually found at the bottom)
- Urad dal should not be soaked for more than 1 hour.It is okay if the rice is soaked for more than 4 hrs
- The urad dhal batter has to be really soft and smooth
- The batter after mixing should not neither be too thick or too thin.
- Try mixing the batter with hands (Earlier I used to mix with laddle and the batter refused to ferment)
- If you are placing the batter in the oven, the oven should not be hot. The yeast will be killed there itself.
- If the fermented batter is too thick and make idlies out of it, the idlies will be hard
- Do not allow the batter to ferment in plastic containers. Atleast it did not work well for me
- The above quantity/ratio that I mentioned is the one that works me. The ratio really depends on the quality of the Urad dal. If the idlis turn out to be flat reduce the quantity of Urad dal.
- Oster blenders will also work well for grinding the batter
- Electric steamer can also be used. Set the timer to 15 minutes.