“IDLI” the first thing which stricks your mind when you think of idli is “South-
India” and specially “Tamil-Nadu”. Yes! the idlies there are so soft and spongy. The minute you put them in your mouth they just melt. Oh what a heavenly feeling!!! For the readers who do not know what IDLI is, Its a savoury cake quite famous in India. These cakes are made by steaming a batter which is made using soaked lentil and rice. These are next fermented for 8-10 hours (preferably overnight) and the next morning we steam them. The fermentation is a vital part in the process as it breaks down the starches present in the rice and lentil so that they are more readily metabolised by our body.
Another important fact is the “quality of rice”. This actually makes a lot of difference and hence many of us fail to achieve the soft idlies. I have used one portion of Dosa rice or Sona ponni rice and that played the trick. Whenever i made idlies with just regular rice, they did turn soft but only for a short duration but using ponni rice gave me a super nice and spongy idlies. It is easily available in any Indian supermarket.
Another tip which i would like to share today is,when you reheat the idlies please do not microwave them. The loose all the moisture content and turn dry and hard. So go for steaming the idlies in a steamer for 5-10 mins.
There is a variant in idly and those are sannas. Very famous in the Goan cuisine. Sannas are usually made using Yeast as a fermenting agent. But for Idlies we do not add any Yeast 🙂
Here i have written how i make soft and spongy idlies in my kitchen.
Dosa rice/sona ponni – 1.5 cup
White lentil/Urad Dal- 1cup
Regular rice – 1cup
Leftover white steamed rice – 1/4 cup
Salt to taste
- Wash the urad dal/White lentil thoroughly with water and soak for nearly 4-5 hours
- In a seperate wide bowl mix the 2 types of rice and wash it thoroughly with water and soak for 4-5 hours
- In a wet grinder, first add drained urad dal (don’t discard the water) and grind to a smooth batter using little water. The quantity actually doubles. Grind till its soft and fluffy.
- Transfer it in a deep bowl and set aside
- In the same wet grinder add soaked rice(discard the water) and white steamed rice. Add little water and grind to a smooth batter. Not very fine. The last bit of the rice should stay in tact. This is a very important step
- Now mix this with the ground urad dal
- Add salt and mix well and set this aside for a good 8-10 hours preferably overnight
- Next morning you will observe that the batter would have doubled in volume.
- Mix it gently with a spatula. Remember not to flatten it by mixing vigorously.
- Fill the idli stand with the batter (not too full)
- Switch on the gas stove to medium flame and set the steamer on it. when you observe the steam coming out place the idli stand inside the steamer and close the lid tightly.
- Steam for exactly minutes
- Open the lid and check if its done by inserting a tooth pick. If it comes out clean, then its done.
- Let it rest for a minute or two before you unmould.
- Serve it with any chutney of your choice.
- Fermentation is a must for idlies. The weather also plays a vital role in fermentation. During summers, you dont need to do anything extra to help the batter ferment. In winters you have to manually try out few steps to help the batter ferment. What i do is, I preheat the microwave at 180C for 5 minutes and switch off the mains. Now, place the batter bowl inside the oven overnight. This is a sure shot help which i do every time i make idlies in winters or the outer atmosphere is cold.
- As i mentioned in the steps, soak both rice and urad dal seperately. This makes a huge difference. We want the urad dal to double its quantity and also into a fine batter whereas we leave the last bit of the rice grain
- If you do not have cooked rice or leftover rice, you can go ahead and soak 1/4 cup poha/beaten rice for an hour and use this as a substitute.