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Idlis – South Indian Steamed Savoury Rice & Lentil Cakes
Idlis are soft and fluffy steam cooked savoury rice and lentil cakes. Healthy, vegan and gluten-free, they’re a breakfast staple in South Indian homes both in India and across the world.
Prep Time
30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15minutes 10 to 12hours
Prep Time
30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15minutes 10 to 12hours
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. First the batter has to be made. Soak the rice and the fenugreek seeds together in water for at least about 5 to 6 hours. Soak the lentils separately in water for about 2 to 3 hours. You can do this sometime in the afternoon, do the grinding sometime before you turn in and let the batter ferment overnight. Otherwise, soak the rice last thing at night before you turn in and then soak the lentils first thing in the morning (youu2019ll need to get up early). Then grind the batter and let it ferment during the day.
  2. First grind the lentils. Drain the lentils and discard the water. Put them into the wet grinder/ processor/ mixer jar and add about a half cup of water initially, adding more when necessary (you might need up to another cup depending upon the quality of the lentils), and grind it to a smooth, fine and fluffy batter. Transfer this batter to a large container. Your container should be large enough that the rice and lentil batter together fills only about half of it as the batter requires room to rise to about double as it ferments.
  3. Next drain the rice and fenugreek seeds, and discard the water. You neednu2019t wash out the jar/ bowl of your grinding machine. Add the rice to it and enough water (about a cup or so), adding more when needed, and grind it to a smooth and fine batter. You will find a very fine grainy feeling if you touch the batter. The batter shouldnu2019t be too thick or too watery, but err towards a slightly thicker batter. If you are using a processor or mixer/ grinder then use chilled water to grind your batters so that the motor doesnu2019t transfer its heat to the batter.
  4. Transfer this batter also to the container, then add salt to taste (ideally lightly salted), and mix the two batters together very well. Loosely cover, and let it ferment for about 8 hours or till it rises double in volume. Refrigerate the batter until needed.
  5. To make the Idlis, you need a set of Idli moulds/ plates. If you don’t have them, you could use small bowls or even silicon muffin moulds (a mould that will withstand steam cooking like). My good friend sometimes makes them in fun moulds and even ice trays to pack for her childrens’ lunch boxes!
  6. Keep you steam cooker ready. Lightly grease the Idli plates/ moulds with oil. Using a ladle, lightly stir to mix well (vigourous stirring will deflate the batter) and then pour ladles of batter into each well on the plates/ moulds till almost full. Make as many Idlis as you want and refrigerate the remaining batter for later use.
  7. Once the water in the steamer is boiling, place the plates/ moulds with the batter in, cover and let it steam cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. Over steaming can make the Idlis less soft. Take the plates/ moulds out and let them cool a bit, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Run the edge of a butter knife or spatula around each Idli and loosen it (it will not loosen neatly if it is still very hot). Unmould and transfer to a serving dish. Serve the Idlis slightly warm, with Sambar, Coconut Chutney or Milagaipodi (chutney powder).