Idli was many a times a ‘temperamental creature’ for me!...I call it temperamental, because it behaves very oddly at times, if the ratio of the ingredients is altered she sulks; if the temperature is a bit cold she becomes indifferent and hard, and if she is not allowed to sit quite in fermentation, she is morose and you can use her to pelt a dog!!...Fluffy idli was a dream often for me during the amateur days…I used to push down the stony cruel idlis down my throat with the sad nostalgia of my amma’s beautiful idlis…..But,she could not evade me longer until I caught hold of her secrets….
No wonder, often South Indians are secretly nicknamed as ‘Idlis’, for the entire South India falls flat over this round patty,2"-3" in diameter, a close cousin of Dosa(Rice pancakes)!....It is a very healthy food and a common breakfast in all the Southern states and has even gone global with the Southies spreading their legs around the globe…She often comes royally to our table with her usual pair of accompaniments, chutney and sambar, at times joined by ‘Milagai Podi’/Chammanthi Podi/Podi. or a handsome Uzhunnu vada(Blackgram fritter)….Ooops! that’s real orgasm!!
"Ittu" + "Avi" (To lay and steam)- the earliest records of Idli dating back to 920AD says that the name originated from these Tamil words.. King Someshwara III who reigned over the present Karnataka, seems to have included an Idli recipe in his encyclopaedia, Manasollasa in 1130 AD. By the way,did you know that idli originally was made only with blackgram and no rice in it?!! Records do not show any trace of rice till the 17th century…Records say that rice might have been added in the later centuries as it accelerated the fermentation process. So Idli has evolved a period of time…and is still evolving with the contemporary versions that we get in the super markets like the microwave idli batter and the semolina idli(Rava Idli). We might have migrated from the traditional ‘attukal’(grinding stone), and the traditional ‘idli chembu’, but the popular version of idli still remains -the Rice-blackgram combination and the process has more or less remained the same-a batter of Rice and black gram fermented overnight and poured into a greased idli mould, or the idli tray, a ‘tree’ like structure which has several trays arranged in tiers and with round,perforated, indentations, and cooked in steam. Here goes the classic recipe for Idli.
Raw Rice-1 cup
Parboiled Rice-1 cup
Black gram-1 cup
Soak rice and Blackgram separately for at least 3 hrs.(You can add half a tsp Fenugreek seeds to the dal for a tasty twist).Grind them separately to make a very smooth batter,but not so fluidy as Dosa batter.Add salt.Mix both the rice and blackgram batter well and leave it to ferment for at least 8hrs,preferably overnight.An average room temp of 25-28degrees is essential for an ideal fermentation.Those who have colder weather may keep the dough in a vessel filled with warm water and cover with a blanket.If the batter has properly fermented, bubbles will appear on the surface.Carefully scoop out the top layer,so that the air trapped inside remains(for making idlis spongier).Dont stir the batter too much, then the idlis may become hard.Grease the idli mould with ghee or oil.Pour the batter into greased idli mould.(See to it that the perforation of one tray is parallel to the indentation of another tray).Pour water into the pressure cooker to such a level that the base of the idli stem is properly immersed.Carefully immerse the idli stem (the mould) into the water.Pressure cook it for 10-12 minutes without the cooker weight(whistle) on.The characteristic smell of the idli itself tells you when it is cooked or you can use a tooth pick to see whether the idli is cooked, if it comes out clean, idli is don. Now serve it hot with coconut chutney or sambar.Here is another interesting idli link from my fellow blogger:
Sour Curd-1 cup(If the curd is not very sour add 1/4 tsp tamarind paste)
Dry Red chilli-2
Curry leaves-2 sprigs
Grind together coconut,green chillies,ginger and curd(If adding tamarind, grind it along with coconut) into a fine paste. Now prepare the seasoning. Heat oil in a wok.Add mustard,dry redchilli, curry leaves. Once they have spluttered, add the seasoning to the chutney. Mix well and serve with your idli.The same chutney goes well with Upma, Vada,Pongal etc.