Idli in simple terms is like a pillow that you eat. Idli is a steamed lentil dumpling made from fermented batter, that is bland on its own. It is light, yummy and makes a full meal for breakfast or lunch/dinner. My version is an NRI* hack that will be an easy and fuss-free recipe for yummy and fluffy idlis. And no, this is NOT going to use an instant mix or instant anything for that matter. Also will NOT include tiresome grinding that requires industrial strength grinder and/or overheats the grinder.
Ask husband to buy:
This quantity makes about 30 idlis or so.
– Idli rawa: 2 cups
– Urad daal flour: 1 cup
(Instead of the traditional use of urad daal, the flour eliminates the need and hassle to grind. The results are absolutely fluffy idlis)
– Fenugreek (methi) seeds: 1-2 tsp
(These help fermentation process. Internet says it makes the batter healthy by reducing carbs – I have ZERO idea what this even means and how exactly the methi seeds do this!)
– Salt as per taste
Depending on what taste you love more, adjust the proportions below. If you want predominantly coconut chutney flavour then you use more coconut and skip the peanuts. And a predominantly peanut flavoured chutney tastes just as good too.
– Coriander leaves: 1 bunch
– Green chillies: 1 or 2 as per preference
– Ginger peeled: 1 small piece about 1/2 to 1 inch in size
– Roasted soft gram lentil: 1/2 tbsp
– Shelled peanuts: 1-2 tbsp
(You can choose to include only one of the roasted gram or the peanuts)
– Desiccated coconut (fresh or frozen): 2 tbsp
– Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
– Salt: as per taste
This is how we do it:
- Soak idli rawa in enough water so that the whole amount gets just about drowned in water. Do this overnight or for at least 5-6 hours
(Do this in the big food processor jar, which has the blade in place. You will know why in further steps)
- Soak fenugreek seeds in about 1 tbsp water over night in a separate bowl
- After the soaking time is up, grind the fenugreek seeds along with the water that it was soaked in
- Add the ground fenugreek seeds and the 1 cup of urad daal flour to the soaked idli rawa. And mix it all together in the food processor by adding a little water at a time gradually.
(I use the tiny window in the lid of the food processor jar to add water as the processor is still running)
- The grinding will essentially just mix the whole thing into a smooth batter in one swift go. We want the paste to be the consistency where it is not watery and is a little thicker than the pancake batter
(So the soaking in the food-processor jar saves the added task of transferring the soaked idli rawa etc. Ugh.)
- Transfer this mixture in a container and keep it to ferment for about 10-12 hours till you see it fluff up and rise a little.
(Psst, the cheat trick is to watch out for that faint sour smell that fermentation brings)
- Fermentation happens quicker in summer and in winters, it takes longer. Keeping the batter in switched off oven helps fermentation too!
- Add salt as per taste after the fermentation is done.
- The batter is ready to start making idlis. Or to keep in the fridge for 3-4 days easily.
- Take an idli stand and grease the pockets in it. Pour the batter in the pockets to fill the pockets up. Pour about 2 cm deep water in the steamer and let it begin boiling. Once it begins boiling, turn the gas to medium heat.
- Put the idli stand inside the steamer and close the lid. Time this to steam for about 12-13 mins. Once that happens, remove the steamer from the flame and let it cool down before you open the lid.
(I wait for about 10 mins and that is about it)
- Take out the stand and scoop out the idlis using a small spoon.
- Make the batter just a little thinner to make dosa* with this batter
(Make the consistency thinner for absolutely thin and crisp dosa)
- If you sprinkle chopped onions+tomatoes+green chillies on to the spread out dosa immediately, that turns into an uttapam*!
- Enjoy the idlis with chutney and/or sambar and/or idli podi*
- Throw all the ingredients for the chutney in a grinding jar. Add just a little water to ease the grinding. Check for consistency and salt and the chutney is ready!
*Non-Resident Indians are notorious for coming-up with short-cut methods that essentially “taint” the conventional methods of cooking Indian dishes. Work smart and not hard, I say.
*Husband dear does not like idli (rolling eyes here) but he does enjoy crispy dosa and uttapam occasionally.
*Sambar is like daal cooked a little differently by adding pumpkin, a few other veggies and a specific mix of spices. Tastes awesome with all the items made from this batter
*Idli podi is a dry powdery mixture that turns into a chutney of sorts when you add a little oil to it. Internet is filled with different variations of its recipe but if you are lazy, the Indian stores now sell a garam masala type version of it too!
Where’s the hygge?
Idli is a healthy, easy and quick breakfast/snack or meal item. The taste is my childhood’s happy memories and love for food all rolled into one. This is actually a classic NRI-friendly recipe for the taste-buds that crave the authentic taste (and despise the half-assed excuse of an “idli mix”) and yet, do not wish to spend hours and effort of going through the traditional steps for preparation.
With my neat trick and method, the grinding hassle is eliminated to only