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 foamy and light , when a ball of this ground batter is dropped in water, it should float.
that is the time to remove from grinder or 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 .
Most important every time you make idlis, you have to use a spatula and stir the batter gently from the bottom to top to get even idlis., or else your second batch may give hard idlis.
While this batter is good enough for making both idlis and dosas, you can keep the whole batch for making only idlis to if you follow the tips well.
There is a practice of making idlis first and then dosas for next two days , reason being the top fresh batter will be light and airy and that gives very soft idlis, as we start using the batter, we get the settled rice batter more which is great for making dosas. but if care is taken to see that batter is stirred and mixed well for every tray of idlis steamed, you will not waste a drop aaadn you will get perfect idli till the last ladle of batter.
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 ( I use split udad dal while grinding in mixie which is what I do often for small quantities.) use whole fresh udad dal for grinding in stone grinder.
- 2 tsp methi seeds
- optional…… to add a small handful of beaten rice/poha/aval which gives the softest or fluffiest idlis
After sufficient soaking remove the excess water and keep it aside ,dont throw away the soaked water. Use it for grinding. intervals. Grind the udad dal first with methi into a thick smooth foamy batter, it has to look airy and buttery , with a satiny feel . Test the consistency by droping a bal of batter in a cup of water, the ball of batter must float , indicating it is light and perfect . Then remove the udad dal ground batter to a large vessel . ( test is for beginners and bachelors, who are not so familiar with grinding for idli dosa ) Next grind the rice separately in the same grinder with soaked poha if using in recipe . with little water ( soaked water ) to a slightly grainy texture, then mix both batter well, from top to bottom evenly. use a hand blender if you dont want to mix with hands, or a good whisk .
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 need to add 1/4 cup extra udad dal if grinding in mixie.
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 you should not remove the airy nature of the batter .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.
Preparation of idlis/dosas
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.