“So whats the big deal in making Idlis?” you may ask. If you are like me, a Idli fan, you might know how difficult it is to make the perfect one. For the first 4 years or so after I started cooking here, I never made this dish, as the idlis I made would turn out to be rock hard, maybe good only for making Kaima Idli, Saravana Bhavan Ishtyle. And whatever recipe I tried( that was a lot), did not work for me.
If you are ever travelling between Bangalore and Mysore, do stop by at the MTR, on Mysore Road, they make the best idlis ever, in small containers made of jackfruit leaves. I am sure anyone who has eaten here will know what I am talking about.
In December of 2004, while coming back from Bangalore, my Mom bought me a kilo of Idli Rava at a local store in Gandhi Bazar, and asked me to try that. It was good, but not great, more or less a compromise.
Then, I came across this really great recipe on the web, no idea who posted it originally, but it has been posted across several websites. Thank you so much to the original poster. The original recipe calls for Uncle Ben Parboiled rice, but I have used the normal enriched Parboiled rice, we get here at any grocery store.
1. Urad Dal- 1 measure
2. Parboiled Rice- 1 Measure
3. Sona Masoori Rice( or any rice you use for daily cooking)- 2 1/2 measures
4. Fenugreek Seed powder- 1 Tsp
5. Salt- To taste
Soak all the ingredients separately for about 4-5 hours. The best results are achieved, using a table top wet grinder for making the batter. The stones aerate the urad dal paste very well, which is the most important factor in making the idlis fluffy and soft.
First grind the Urad dal and fenugreek powder, adding water in small quantities, till it becomes really light and doubles in volume. Keep the urad dal paste separately. Grind the parboiled rice first, then add the other rice and grind till the mixture becomes a coarse batter.
Mix in the rice with the Dal paste, making sure not to stir too vigorously. Add salt and allow the batter to ferment well for 8-10 hours, at a room temperature of 85-90 degree Fahrenheit. In the winter, slightly warm the oven to a temperature of 200 degree F, and turn it off, and keep the batter in the oven, overnight.
To make the idlis-
Grease the idli plates with some oil or ghee, and pour the batter. Steam for 15-20 minutes. Pick a toothpick to check if done. Remove, drizzle some ghee and enjoy with some spicy chutney, and sambhar.
If you are more adventurous, try steaming the idlis in plates or small tumblers, covered with banana leaf, turmeric leaf, or small pouches made of Jackfruit leaves . The aroma of the leaf, makes the idli more special. Banana leaves are available in the frozen food(Mexican) sections of local farmers markets and grocery stores.