Idli is a South Indian savory steamed rice cake which looks like a small white buns, made by black lentils and parboiled rice.This white cakes(idlis) are usually in 2-3 inches diameter and made by steaming a batter in round molds, which is consisting of fermented black lentils and parboiled rice.the fermentation process breaks down the starches so that the idlis are very easy digestive food for any age people.Most of the South Indians like to have this idlis as a break fast or dinner, with the combination of Sambar and coconut chutney and also with karappodi(mixed spice powder) with ghee. There are no leavening agents used in idli batter so this healthy idlis are born in Karnataka and became popular all over India
Fermentation is the main step to get a soft and fluffy idli
1. Traditionally black lentils and par boiled rice soaked in water for 4-5 hours and ground in to a thick paste and leave in a warm place to ferment for over night.
2. In this process fermentation is caused by Air,Black lentils(urad dal,minapappu) and Fenugreek seeds these three ingredients produce a type of wild yeast so don't over wash the black lentils. preferably always use whole urad with skin or you can use de-husked whole urad also. But not split urad that won't give a good results to the finale product ,idlis will become hard after you steam. Because in the process of spliting the whole urad mechanically that generates heat and destorys the natural wild yeast in urad dal. If you dont get whole urad in that case you can use split urad by last choice by compensating with a spoon of fenugreek seeds .
3. Because Fenugreek seeds also contain same wild yeast which we find in whole urad so that you can get more natural yeast to ferment the idli batter.
4. Now one more very important ingredient in this recipe is Rice in olden days people didn't use rice for idli batter they use to soak urad dal in butter milk and grind in to a smooth paste with sour curd in this case curd acts as yeast but after some experiments people started grinding rice in to a coarse paste and mix with urad paste. but now a days we can get parboiled rice which is well known as idli rice.
5. Par boiled rice is pre-processed rice which contains 80% starch and gives a soft and plum texture. insted of par-boiled rice you can use cream-of rice which is made by again par- boiled rice. In case you didn't get idli rice(par-boiled rice) you can replace them with Arborio rice or Mochi rice(Japan) or sweet and waxy American rice but the texture may be little different some times.
6. And last and final ingredient is water yes chlorine in water destroy the natural yeast (wild yeast) if you find chlorine smell in water then better use spring water or boiled and filtered tap water.
7. better use non-iodized salt and add salt just before you pouring the batter in to the idli molds (means after fermentation)
8. The temperature should be 86 degree F to 90 degree F below that temperature it will take longer time to ferment. Idli batter should ferment Two& half times then original volume then only you can get soft and fluffy idlis.
Here is the recipe for Most wanted break fast IDLI.....
Par-boiled rice (idli rice) --- 4 cups
Raw rice (dosa rice) (any short grain rice what we use for dosa batter) --- 1 cup
Black lentils(urad dal) --- 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds --- 1 tea sp
Salt --- 1 1/2 tea sp
1. Mix both rice and wash for 1 or 2 times and soak in enough water for 4 hours
2.Wash black lentils and soak in water for 1 hour with 1 tea sp of fenugreek seeds
3.Grind lentils in to smooth paste.If drop a small ball of lentil paste in a bowl of water that should stay on surface . Normally it will take 45 min. time to grind in a wet grinder 10 - 15 min. in a mixer(mixee)or blender.But wet grinder gives a good results.
4.Now grind rice in to a coarse paste and mix it with lentil paste mix well and leave it in a warm place to ferment.
5. If you like to use idli rava( cream of rice) then take 2 cups of cream of rice (idli rava) and soak in enough water before you start grinding lentils. After grinding lentils remove water and squeeze extra water and add this to lentil paste mix well and leave for fermentation.
6. leave this batter in a warm place for over night to ferment well and the batter should become2 1/2 times then original volume.
8. Grease idli molds with little oil or ghee and pour 1 ladle full idli batter and arrange idli plates in the stand .
9. pour 100ml water in to a idli cooker or a big vessel and bring to a full boil and place the idli stand into that idli cooker cover with lid and steam for 5 min, in high flame then reduce the flame and steam the idlis for 8 min.
10.Switch off the flame and leave it like that for 5 min. then open the lid and remove the idli stand from idli cooker.
11. Wait for 2 more min and scoop out the idlis from the molds and serve hot with sambar, coconut chutney and ghee .
12. You can use a pressure cooker for steaming idlis pour water in the pressure cooker and place the idli stand and cover with lid but don't put the weight (whistle).
13. You can use electric rice cooker also for steaming idlis pour water in to the rice cooker vessel and place the idli stand and switch on the cooker to cooking mode.
14. Can cook idlis in microwave also but with microwave safe idli molds only.