In its steamed avatar, idly is by far the healthiest and moat assimilable breakfast from the Indian subcontinent. This fermented rice cake is the sought out south Indian platter.
Dunked in hot steamy sambhar or dipped gently in creamy chutney, the fluffy white idly never fails to allure more fans into its league. With the magic words fermented, probiotics and steamed the humble rice and lentil staple has now slowly and steadily gained popularity on the global food scene.
The elaborate preparation
As a child, I was not an idly fan.. I somehow did not like the idea. Just as any other stubborn one, I demanded my mom give me an alternative. This scene changed following my marriage. So the current idly recipe I am describing is from my mother in law.
The batter preparation begins with the soaking of the dehusked black gram and par-cooked short grain rice and then separate grinding of the two. In most Indian homes you will find a dear contraption…the wet grinder. Made with grinding stones and a rotor to set it going this machine does a wonderful magic to grind the pulses and the rice slowly yet smooth.
Further the combined batters are mixed and allowed to ferment for 6 to 8 hours. Well, if it is a cold weather, place it in a warmed oven, microwave or warm water to help the process. Check the tips listed below for more details.
It is the airborne bacteria which create the fermentation and cause the batter to lift. Quite a tricky and time-consuming process this is ..but it is well worth the effort of fluffy idlies. This fermentation process makes the end product more nutritious due to the enzymatic breakdown of the complex nutrients into a more available form for the body.
Once the batter is ready, its gently mixed and poured into greased semi-spherical moulds and these are steamed. This is served at breakfast.
Now idly batter prep is an alternate week meal prep idea in my household. The idlies seem to have percolated down to dinner when it is relished better than the hurried morning
Serve it with sambhar, almond chutney or gunpowder ellupodi, it makes a healthy option all long.
Here is a creamy Sambhar recipe
For chutney, try these
Idlies also are great for travel.. A few in a zip pouch tossed in some oil and podi (spicy lentil mix) are a welcome meal for our outdoor adventure.
Now to reveal the best secret. I do freeze a few premade idlies for a quick dinner on a crazy day or the middle of the night big hunger which seems to peak during winter. microwave them or steam them and they are perfect again
Idlies can still be made if you don’t have moulds for it. make a steamer arrangement and ramekins or small heat resistant bowls will work too.
This recipe, from my mother in law, is my contribution to Cooking from a cookbook challenge for the second entry month.
I love the idea of collecting heirloom family recipes like these so people can perfect their skills too. I am so glad that my mother in law, a brilliant home cook taught me the intricate secrets to this recipe.