Idli is fermented rice cakes made the South Indian way. A very common breakfast and dinner dish not only in Southern India, but across the globe. People from all over India learnt how to make these rice cakes from the southern states and took the dish all around. It is actually surprising to see SO MANY South Indian restaurants in the Bay Area, all serving idli pretty similar to the ones back home!
What was once a simple breakfast or dinner dish has many versions. While the traditional idlis are made from urad dal and rice, the Thatte Idli from Karnataka has sabudana added too. And there are multiple varieties like Kanchipuram idlis, Muday idli and Rava Idli. These idlis have ingredients different from the traditional ones.
Then, people transformed the regular idlis into multiple dishes that come under fusion cooking. These recipes are also amazing ways to use up leftover idlis. From the Indo-Chinese Idli Chilli Dry to the South Indian Kaima idlis and Idli upma, these rice cakes are widely used to spice up the meal!
But before making all these fusion dishes, getting perfect rice idlis is essential! Here is a recipe to make soft, white and fluffy idlis every single time. The batter can be made and steaming idlis enjoyed over dinner and if there is leftover batter, refrigerate it for use in the coming days or week. Simple and no-fail recipe.
Whole urad dal, husked 1 cup
Idli Rice 3 cups
Flattened Rice/Poha 2 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds 1 tbsp
Wash and soak the urad dal with fenugreek seeds in 2 cups water. Similarly, wash and soak the idli rice in 5 cups of water. Soak the rice and dal overnight or at least 6-8 hours. After the soaking time is complete, crush dry flattened rice/poha and set aside. Next crush the dal and fenugreek seeds to a smooth paste. In the same pot, blend the rice to a smooth paste. Combine the two pastes and 2 tsp salt and flattened rice in a big container. Ensure that the container is big enough to hold twice the mixture after fermenting.
Leave the mixture to ferment for about 10-12 hours. If the temperature outside is below 70-80 F, preheat the oven and then shut it off. Leave the light on and let the batter ferment in there. Adjust the salt and water after fermentation and keep the consistency just good to flow.
Using a idli stand, heat water in the container. Grease the individual cavities with oil,ghee or cooking spray. Pour the idli batter in the cavities and set them inside the container. Steam on high flame for 2 minutes and then lower the flame. Let the idli cook on medium flame for another 10-12 minutes. Open the container and check if the idli is completely cooked using a toothpick. Once done, serve hot with Sambar or Rasam and Coconut Chutney.
Also try Karnataka's famous Thatte Idli/ Plate Idli.