Idli Batter using India Gate Classic Basmati Rice & Split Urad Dal in Butterfly Mixer Grinder. This would be the longest post title I have in my blog! Idli Dosa Batter made with India Gate Classic Basmati Rice and split urad dal prepared using Butterfly Mixer Grinder. I learnt the hard way to get this to the state where it is good enough to blog.. oops! eat as well...! 😛
What is an idli?
Idlis are steamed rice cakes made with fermented batter. Their origin is in dispute between Tamilnadu and Karnataka! Do I care? 😛 - that’s for those who have no idea what this dish is which I believe is most unlikely given that Sarvana Bhavan is all over the world! I wonder who named these idlis or how that word got coined? Nevertheless, we all have invariably had idli and sambar at least once in our life. If it is new to you, then you are missing the most humble delicacy of South Indian cuisine.
Why do beginners struggle to make perfect idlis?
Idlis never go out of diet trend or become extinct like some of the Indian pulses. They are tricky to make because like baking preparing this is a kind of science. 🙂 I will not delve into science or even math - all that intimidates any newcomer. Trust me baking is far more reliable than making the batter of idlis. Even the articles that claim the "Foolproof" method have disclaimers and discretion all over it.
You have to experiment until you get it right. Or you may get it right in the first instance and then fail in the next. And what is right may not be right enough every time! So there is more to idlis than just the 4:1 ratio that seems to be the rule of the thumb.
But whatever may be the outcome of the batter, you can always save it by making dosas. So technically you never go wrong and there is no wastage! 🙂 Just get the darn thing to ferment by hook or crook!
A personal flashback story
My mom used to make her idli batter in Sowbaghya wet grinder late in the evening. I would stand beside the grinder watching the creamy curls of the batter going around the two stones and mom warning me not to get mischievous and put my fingers in it. I was always her proud sous chef! That night I go to bed dreaming of having hot idlis laden in spicy sambar and chutney. Next day morning - I live my dream. Hot, soft and like vernacular saying idlis that are like flowers! that keeps refilling my plate as and when I finish off until I can't get off the chair! that is how much I love these pillowy buttons!
After I moved to Bangalore, I must admit I never missed mom's idlis because there are so many outlets (my fav is SLV and then a few sagars) that give you super soft and fresh idlis. I also learned that there is more than one type. The sad part was, at home I would lose count whereas, at the counter, I am just given 2 or 3 in a plate 🙁 that hardly feeds my hunger! I used to be too embarrassed to order more 😛
A few years down the lane, I had a fully equipped kitchen at my disposal in Bangalore, yet I didn’t have to make idli batter, BECAUSE it was the advent of home delivery of ANYTHING! The idli batter was just a call away. The best thing that a working woman can ask for – ready-made fresh idli/dosa batter to make our lives easier – I even started seeing peeled shallots and garlic cloves for sale by the roadside veggie vendors! 😀 So much for the sake of time! hmmm...
Back in Coimbatore, my mom had packed off the wet grinder and resorted to the ready-made batter. Her excuse was she didn’t have to make a big batch anymore as all her kids are away. Well true but still… sigh! It never occurred to me to ask her for the recipe. It was like the ready-made batter has replaced the wet grinder! I am sure there would have been a dip in sales of the wet grinder!
Married and off I came to Yanbu with a written knowledge of the 4:1 ratio of rice to urad dal formula that has never failed for my mil. Unlike my mom, she uses a Preeti mixer grinder. I didn’t even think of buying the modern-day tabletop wet grinder! Must have made my life a lot easier, but we are not going to give up right?
Can we use basmati rice for idli batter?
Yes, you can! But it needs the same TLC.
Can we use basmati rice for dosa batter?
YES, of course!
I made idli batter with basmati rice because I had to. I couldn't source the traditional idli rice nor the par-boiled rice. The first time I made the idli batter with basmati rice, it fermented YAY! But gave me hard and fenugreek stinking idlis. And I was too naive to cut down the quantity! 😛 it used to be dosa week (Dosai Vaaarum) which was surprisingly good! But what about idlis?
There is an umpteen inexhaustible number of articles on the topic of Idlis in Google. I was desperately trying all possible methods every time I made them. Then it occurred to me, the urad dal I get here are tiny and split. I don’t get the skinned whole urad dal that is generally used in making idli batter. And now what is Idli rice???? I have never heard of Idli rice growing up! Gosh! That just made me doubt my foundation!
So with no access to Idli rice, no wet grinder and no whole urad dal – I came up with a formula that gives me the best idlis most of the time. The times it failed are during winter – when it just refuses to ferment. So during winter, I give the batter 8 to 10 hours and then add yeast to fasten the fermentation.
If your scenario is like mine, and you have been struggling to make edible idlis then give this a try. It will not let you down but I still can't guarantee the best because like I said earlier there is more than just the ratio! 😛
What to do with leftover idlis?
I make around 24 idlis of medium-sized mould. Usually, there are no leftovers, but when I do have a few left, then it gets stored and remodelled into Idli Upma!
Guidelines to Experiment Your Idli batter Ratio
Don’t alter the ratio or your trusted family recipe until you have tested other factors which include:
- using ice-cold water for Mixie - use ice-cold water throughout the grinding process to keep the machine heat in control. A heated-up jar will alter the batter texture.
- consistency of urad dal batter – Urad dal needs to become fluffy and smooth and also frothy is good news.
- the way you have mixed the batter – use your hands and mix so that both rice and urad batter combines well into one texture. Once fermented, do not over-mix the batter if you are planning to make idlis.
- overall batter consistency – this is the most important factor that will most likely fix your issues. It is hard to explain but I will say the batter should not be too thick that it fails to drop off the ladle.
- temperature – try keeping the batter in a non-air-conditioned room or draft-free area which means a location where there is not too much air circulation.
- time is taken to ferment – this differs according to the weather. More time during winter and less during summer. So have patience!
- time taken to steam – steaming for longer than 10 minutes will yield hard idlis.
Idli Batter using India Gate Classic Basmati Rice & Split Urad Dal in Butterfly Mixer Grinder
For preparing the batter
- 2 cups basmati rice soaked in 2½ cups of water
- ½ cup split urad dal soaked in 1½ cups of water
- ¼ cup rice flakes aka poha (beaten or flattened)
- ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- water as required
For making Idlis
- cooking oil sesame oil, coconut oil etc. (to grease the moulds)
- water as required as per your steamer
- Rinse rice gently two to three times in water and soak them in 2 to 2.5 cups of water along with the rice flakes (poha) for at least 5 to 6 hours.
- In a different bowl, rinse the urad dal and soak in 1.5 cups of water along with the fenugreek seeds.
- Keep both bowls covered.
- Strain the soaked urad dal and reserve the water in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to make it cold quicker.
- Add the strained urad dal in the biggest jar and grind it to smooth, frothy and fluffy batter with up to ¼ to ½ cup of reserved water that is cold or just use very cold water.
- Ensure you add cold water little by little just to aid the grinding.
- The mixer grinder tends to get hot so use only very cold water or ice cubes to aid the grinding.
- Transfer the batter into a large bowl deep enough to store the batter for fermentation as the batter will double in quantity.
- In the same jar, add two to three fistfuls of the rice from the rice bowl. (Don't have to strain the soaked rice bowl)
- I grind the rice in three batches in the largest jar. I have noticed using a bigger jar but little quantity makes the grinding faster and smoother.
- Add the reserved cold urad soaked water or plain cold water little by little and grind the rice till smooth or till fine grainy consistency. You will not need more than a cup of water to grind all of the soaked rice in two to three batches.
- Transfer the rice batter into the bowl containing the urad dal batter.
- Add 1 to 2 teaspoons salt or as per taste.
- Mix the batters very well using your right hand.
- Cover the bowl lightly or use a cling wrap and make a few holes and allow the batter to ferment overnight for 8 to 10 hours.*(see notes)
- After 8 hours, check if the batter is fermented – you will know this when you see the batter has risen. Keep it for another couple of hours if it has just started to ferment. Don’t over-mix the fermented batter.
- Add enough water into the steamer and let it boil.
- Grease the idli moulds with oil.
- Pour the batter into the moulds and steam on a medium flame for 10 minutes.
- Remove the moulds from the steamer and keep it out for a couple of minutes before trying to un-mould the idlis.
- Use a thin spoon or butter knife to remove the idlis from the mould and keep them in a hot pack.
- Serve hot with my two coconut chutneys, sambar or with Idli podi.
Before I wrap up, let me add to the confusion LOL - my sister says it's 2 cups raw rice and 2 cups parboiled rice to 1 cup urad dal! Has anyone tried that? 🙂 Good news is, I finally located parboiled rice here so will give it a try and keep you all posted.