Traditional pacharisi idlies made during festival days is a useful recipe to keep handy. With the idli batter in a blender, this raw rice recipe is lovely for the winter months.
One of the biggest culinary challenges as we move countries for our living is the difference in the quality of certain ingredients that we get. Since we live a bit further from where the Indian groceries thrive in Sydney, specific ingredients are at times not available at the time of visit.
At such slightly challenging times, highly technical recipes like idli are excellent experimenting grounds. This is how we got the bajra rawa idli and the quinoa oats idly perfected. However, the call of the rice idli is far too strong to ignore.
While researching, I came across Priya’s blog having a pacharisi idli recipe that is made during the fasting season. This certainly was one that sparked my curiosity. I wanted to see if I can pull this off, if it does it is such a relief from having to find the right idli parboiled rice.
Pacharisi vs idly arisi
The staple idli Rice that is needed to make classic idli is parboiled rice. The short-grain rice that is generally used to cook as a meal is pacharisi. The common varieties are ponni, sonamasoori etc. While making the idli with this rice, the stickiness of the rice matters as the idli will not be as soft as the parboiled rice ones.
When the paddy is harvested and dehusking is completed, thus is usually the red or brown rice with its bran intact. This is either milled to make the cooking rice. The rice is soaked, steamed and dried this becomes the parboiled rice. These are varieties like idli rice or matta rice. The parboiled rice is lower in the glycaemic index and has better absorbability of VIt B. Moreover the starch bring partially cooked makes the idies soft.
What is special about pacharisi idly?
On south indian festival days parboiled rice is often not cooked. Hence, raw rice is used for meals. Since idlies are still a staple breakfast, pacharis idlies are made for naivedyam. So on festivals like Lakshmi pooja, Navratri or ganesha chaturthi pacharisi idli is made.
Ingredients to raw rice idli
Since we are using raw rice instead of parboiled rice to make this recipe the proportion varies a bit from the classic idli
Raw rice: To make this recipe I have used raw thanjavoor ponni rice as this is rice normally I cook with. The basmati or any other long-grain rice will not work for this recipe. However, sona masoori rice gives good results too. The rice is washed till the water runs clear and then soaked for 4 to 6 hours
Urad dal: the skinned black gram dal is what is used to make idli. You can choose the white round one with both the cotyledons attached or the split one. These are washed and soaked in a ratio of 1 part urad dal to 2 parts rice. The urad dal will need only a soaking for 2 hours.
Methi: the fragrance of the idlies while steaming is often attributed to the fenugreek seeds added and ground with the batter. I have seen reports that fenugreek seeds help in the viscosity of the batter, however, this doesn’t really seem true in practical experiences, because the quantity is too small to affect it. However, the study that suggests the beta gluten in the fenugreek helps in holding the gases released during fermentation makes sense.
Salt: In colder regions it is best to add salt while Grinding. However, if you are in a hot humid zone, add the salt following the fermentation process.
Tips for Making idly batter in the blender
Since the pacharisi batter is a smaller quality it is better to grind in the blender than the grinder. While Grinding the batter in a blender the issue is that the batter gets warm. If in humid warm regions grind the batter by adding a few ice cubes to it. This helps the blender to cool down and the batter to maintain the consistency. Use cold water otherwise to blend.
Fermenting the batter as temperature drops.
As the temperature drops the batter gets a bit tricky to ferment perfectly. We had discussed ideas that help during winter in our post, bamboo rice idli. Since the pachari idli is a bit more tricky, it took about 16 hours of total fermentation in the oven with a light on. The small bubbles on the surface indicated that the fermentation was complete. The other method of fermentation for winter that are best will be to place the recipe in a warm Thermos box.
Steaming the batter to make idlies
The idli steamer is the best way to steam the batter to perfection. You can use an idly mould or use small bowls or ramekins to steam the batter. You can make the idlies in a microwave steamer too. The idlies are not as pillowy soft as the traditional idlies. This is because of the rice varieties.
The recipe card below carries the step-by-step instructions to make this pacharisi idli. Once you make it let us know how it came out for you in the comments below. Don’t forget to rate the recipe using the stars.
- idli moulds
For making the batter
- 2 cups Raw rice I have used thanjavoor ponni raw rice
- 1 cup Urad Dal
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- salt to taste see notes below
- 1 tbsp oil to grease the moulds
- Wash the rice and soak it with excess of water.
- Let the rice soak for about 3 hours
- Wash and soak the urad dal ( ulundu ) the same way.
- Add the methi seeds to soak along with the urad dal.
- Allow this to soak for atleast one hour.
- Grind the urad dal methi soaked into a fine paste. Use the water from soaking as needed to grind this.
- This batter will be fluffy and smooth and good to scoop when done.
- Now grind the soaked rice. Use just enough water to get a pouring consistency, smooth batter.
- Remove this batter to the same bowl that the ground urad dal was added to.
- Add salt and mix both the batters together till combines well.
- Cover and leave in a warm dark place for the batter to ferment.
- Once the batter has risen well and appears fluffy, mix well and the batter is now ready to be steamed.
- At this stage, you can save this batter in the refrigertor or steam to make idlies.
- Set water in the steamer.
- Grease the idli mould.
- Ladle in the batter halfway through the mould.
- Place the moulds in the steamer and let the idlies steam for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes remove from heat and let the idlies stand for 10 minutes.
- Now unmould the hot idlies carefully.
- Serve th idlies warm.
Meal prep and lunch boxes
The fermented batter stays well in the fridge for at least a week. If the batter thickens in the fridge ass a bit of water to bring back the consistency.
The idlies can be made as podi idly, idly upma or just as such with a good chutney to be sent to school.
Serving suggestions with raw rice idies
Here are some sides to make this idli taste fantastic.
As you have seen in the images podipotta sambhar was our choice for this cold day. You can have dhania podi or ellu podi with some oil or chutney like Leeks chutney, almond chutney or guava chutney to have with it.
Though pacahrisi idlies are made traditionally made for specific festivals, it is a great option to make idlies in winter and also when you move countries as idly rice is hardly available. Hope you will try out this batter that comes out good as idli or dosa. Let us know how your experience of making this idli went and feel free to ask doubts if you have any. I am not an idli expert but am happy to test your doubts. Stay in touch with us through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
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See you in the next post.