My daughter chuckled,"Amma,,the recipe for idlies,a very common dish.Yes, they are common but the best,easy to prepare,nutritious,free from oil and spices.Above all,the great comfort food for all ages,right from 8 months to 80 years,quick and easy for digestion.The day starts for us with a cup of coffee.We can't imagine ,even a single day without it.It is at once a common and a popular drink.So are the idlies.Iyyengars are synonymous with puliodarai and akkaravadisel,the chettinad people for their paniyaram and so many other dishes, the Hydrabadis,the briyani,the Bengalies and the Rasagula.The same with the Saiva Pillai ,esp. of T'veli and idlies,vatha kulambu,vegetable koottus,pacchadies,kicchadies,kootanchoru,sodhi etc.
Today it seems to be a refrain with most of the youth and some of the adults,"Idlies,O boring"Half a dozen of our soft ,malligaipoo like idlies offered to one such person, would disappear in no time.So no marriage or feast in TN is complete sans,idlies,one of the items during breakfast or dinner.This recipe is going to be invaluable only to the tiny tots of cooking.The procedure seems long,due to the small tips for the making of the soft idlies.Idli batter can be the most precious item in any fridge,esp. for the South Indians.Immediately,you can start preparing idlies,dosais,onion roast,podi roast etc.
Idli rice(pulungal arisi/parboiled rice/vellai karam) 4 cups
Whole,white urad dhal(vellai muzhu uzhundhu) 1 cup
Fenugreek(vendhayam) 1 tsp
Salt 2 tbsp/according to taste
1. Soak rice atleast for 4 hrs. and the urad dhal should be soaked for only one hour,if kept outside.Inside the fridge,it can be soaked for more time .The people who feel it,a drudgery and like to complete the work early in the morning ,can soak the dhal at night and keep it inside the fridge.Rice can be soaked and kept outside.If you want to grind in the evening after coming from work,soak both the rice and the dhal in the morning.Keep the dhal in the fridge and the soaked rice can be kept outside.Wash well before soaking.
2.It is better to grind the urad dhal first.Put the dhal in the grinder with 3/4 cup of water and switch on .After 5 mins.,clear the dhal sticking to the bottom and the sides of the drum and sprinkle 3/4 cup of water.Repeat this again after 5 mins. and for every 5 mins.At the end of 20 or 25 mins., depending on the quality of the dhal,if the batter is fluffy, it can be transferred to the vessel.
3.Then put the soaked rice in the grinder.In a conventional model grinder,first add 3/4 cup of water.For every 5 mins. add water,clearing the rice,sticking to the bottom and the sides.If it is a table top grinder,more water has to be added in the beginning .Otherwise,the grinder may get stuck up.If required,a little water can be added later.When the dough is fine( one stage before very fine),transfer it to the vessel with the dhal.Rinse the drum with 1/2 cup of water and keep aside.Add salt and mix the rice and the dhal batter together well.The consistency of the mixed dhal should be little loose,light and fluffy.If it is hard,the rinsed water can be added,which would make the idlies and dosas soft.Allow it to ferment atleast for 8 to 10 hours.Then store it in the fridge.It can be stored in one or two containers separately,easy for handling.
The quality of the ingredients,the technique of grinding,the consistency of the batter and the preparation of the idlies or dosais are equally important .In the grocery shop,it is sold as idli rice,either vellai karam or Ponni.We use the same batter for dosais and idlies.Always,take the required quantity of batter in a small vessel and use.For dosais add a little more water and make the batter,a little loose, before preparing the dosais.The whole urad dhal available in Chennai or Coimbatore is extremely good that we use rice and dhal only in the ratio of 5: 1 .Yet with good grinding,the idlies turn out to be very soft.I'll post the recipes of the gravies for the idlies in the next post.