Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Hot 'n Steamy Smooth 'n Creamy Afternoon Delight..Idli!

   Get your minds out of the gutter! Afternoon Delight has many meanings... well, at least one other when it comes to tea time or tiffin or snacking or whatever you choose to call it. What's hot and steamy, smooth and creamy if it's done right??? Idli that's what!
   Idli are little steamed buns, sometimes plain, sometimes spiced, traditionally served with sambar, as part of breakfast. But they can also be enjoyed for lunch and of course as a terrific tea time afternoon delight.
   As with anything worth waiting for, idlis take time and a slow hand. Of course there are all sorts of modern shortcuts to idli making, using all sorts of instant gratification tools like... baking soda. But !'m talking about old school, fermented over one long steamy hot night idlis. You know what I'm talkin' about. Served fresh and hot out of the steamer with a delicious chutney and hot cup of chai, you are in business and in an immediate get-out-of-here-and-leave-me-alone-with-my-idlis frame of mind.
    So... wondering how to get from batter to idli plate? It takes at least 24 hours. Idlis can be made from semolina, ground rice or rawa which is a sort of cream of rice powder. Rawa is what I used.


Here's what to do:
Soak 2 cups of Cream of Rice (rawa) in 4 cups of water.
 Soak 1 cup of urad dal in 2 cups of water.
 Leave both of these to soak for about 4 to 5 hours.
 Drain both the cream of rice and the urad dal.
 Put the drained urad dal in a blender or food processor and grind it into a batter
 Put the drained cream of rice into a food processor and blend it into a thick batter.
Mix the two batters together in a bowl and add some salt to taste.
Now set it aside in its' bowl to ferment overnight. I wrapped the bowl in a towel and stuck the whole thing in my oven to stay out of drafts and cozy overnight.

Steaming The Idli
This is actually the easiest part of the whole thing. I have an idli maker  which looks like a giant egg poacher, so I imagine an egg poacher would be the perfect substitute.
Spray the little pockets of the idli maker with non-stick spray and added the idli batter in.
Drop the idli mold into a large pot filled with a couple of inches of boiling water and slap on the pot lid. !5 minutes idli!!!!
Now if you don't have an idli mold or a pressure cooker you can make these using any old steamer. Just roll your idli batter into little balls and flatten them a bit. Pop them into any steamer and cook them.
Serve them up with a soupy sambar for a breakfast treat as they do in India, or with a coconut, fruit or cilantro chutney piping hot at any time a pick-me-up is needed. There. Wasn't that worth waiting for??
  This weekend I'll be waiting for the stove repair person and getting ready for a houseguest from LA (my favorite old cooking buddy) who's coming for a visit. There'll be lots of feasting and cooking of course, plus I review my first Vook. Read all about it and follow along on Twitter@kathygori


  1. These look great - I've never heard of idli before and it's great to learn about them! Can't wait to try this with some cilantro chutney!

  2. @Marmandeinthekitchen,
    yes, as soon as my stove is repaired I'm going to make them again.

  3. I've never heard of idlis before, but I'm now some how craving them after reading the description! Must go to the store and get me some ingredients so I can get cooking these :D

  4. Kathy I like your old school way of making Idlis. They have been on my list to try for ever and I need to get around to it soon. The video is so funny, I love that movie.

  5. woow, idlis have come out really nice! I am hungry now, as I look at that picture :D

  6. I'm on a munch through all the lovely dishes on your site. Your idlis look so soft and cushion-y!

    Do try grinding the batter in a sturdy blender next time, it gives a satiny consistency to the urad dal batter that results in a better idli texture. My food processor ends up kind of just cutting up the dal into minuscule pieces which is not so great.



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