Idli – How many recipes? how many tricks ?
I still remember my initial days of making the idili. I was never getting a fermented batter and in turn a soft idli. Blamed the climate in Delhi, found fault in the quality of urad dal / rice, doubted the efficiency of the grinder etc. One fine morning, my husband shouted saying ” see what has happened”. When I entered the kitchen – the idli batter – I kept on the kitchen top was over fermented and the batter was over flowing all over the kitchen platform. I felt so happy – even my batter fermented well. Frankly, this is one of the most happiest moment in my life. I felt so satisfied.
I use idli rice (boiled idli rice) – 4 cups.
Urad dal (Split) – 1 cup.
Methi seeds – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
For one cup of urad dal – I use 3 cups of water for soaking and grinding.
For one cup of rice – I use 1 cup of water for soaking. But, while grinding I use only 1/2 cup of water. Later after grinding I use another half cup.
Water is very important for fermenting.
How long should we soak ?
If we soak for 3 to 5 hours and then grind the batter. It will take 8 to 12 hours for fermenting. In Delhi – it takes 12 hours.
So normally, in the various recipes – people have suggested to soak the rice and the dal overnight. In that case, It ferments faster say within 5 to 6 hours or in some recipes they have suggested to add cooked rice. Even this helps in fermenting faster.
But, if you have some old people at home they will not recommend these shortcuts methods for the simple reason – the idli made with the rice and dal soaked for a longer time has some sour taste and if we add cooked rice – the shelf life of the rice is only 10 to 12 hours. So it actually starts to rotten. As per Ayurveda, we need to eat fresh food because the food will be in our system for the next 10 to 12 hours. Till then it should not start to rotten.
These above methods are definitively convenient. Use it for convenience.
But, the best method is to soak for 3 to 5 hours.
The grinder is also very important. I have uploaded my grinder picture. Previously, I had a different grinder and the experience was not upto the mark. This grinder is very efficient. If you are intending to buy one – I recommend this.
Use more rice – we normally see recipes were the ratio of dal to rice is 1 : 2 or 1: 3 but I am using 1 : 4. My grinder is very efficient in grinding the urad dal. If your grinder is not efficient reduce the rice to 3 1/2 cups.
Using more rice will give a nice texture to the idili and the idli will also get cooked faster.
If we ferment the batter in a stainless steel vessel – it ferments faster when compared to a plastic container. Even if you feel comfortable with the plastic container for storage – ferment in a stainless steel vessel and then store it in the plastic container. Plastic does not have pores.
If you make a very thick batter – it will take a long time to ferment. Please use the water measurements mentioned.
Always add all the required water before fermenting. After fermenting don’t add water.
While making the idli – scoop the batter without mixing it. Use half the quantity of the batter in the container for idli and the bottom portion for dosa as it will have more rice. Rice is heavier than dal. So, it settles at the bottom.
I feel idli is softer when made in a idli vessel than in a cooker. It works well even in an electric cooker. If you are buying – please invest in a idli vessel. The steam has to release – for a softer idli.
First, cook the idli in medium flame – till the vapour starts to come out through the lid. Then, keep it in the lowest flame for 7 to 8 minutes. Your idli should be cooked. If it is taking more time to cook the reason is – it has more urad dal.
The quality of rice and urad is not so excellent in Delhi still Iam using 4 : 1.
Cooking the idli with a cloth on the idli mould will give a better texture and you can remove the idli hotter. But, maintaining the cloth is a job. If you can – go head.
If you are pouring directly on the idli mould just wash the plates with running water and drain it and add the idlies they will come out well. You can also apply some oil on the moulds. After cooking, remove and keep it for 3 minutes. Allow it to cool and then take a spoon or knife and scoop it. In south, they have a special spoon for scooping the idli.
In colder climates, ferment the batter inside the oven with the light on.
Follow the same method – for few times. With experience – it will come out well.