19 Nov 2010

Malligai Poo Idlis

Can you believe that this innocent looking idli has a 2000 year old history??

Idli is a product of Karnataka but took real shape inTamil Nadu where it took different forms and varieties and combined ith various side dishes. Who can argue about the taste and combination of "Idli,Vadai and Sambhar" available in Saravan Bhavan and Sri Annapoorna Gowrishankar [Coimbatore] which made this innocent idli world famous????.

The first person to write about the forefathers of the present day idli is "Sivakodi Aacharya" in 920 AD. "Logobakara" written by Savundaraya II in 1125 AD mentions a basic method of idli making. In this recipe black urad dhal [whole urad dhal without the skin removed] is soaked in buttermilk, ground to a paste, mixed with curds and cooked. I guess this must have been the precursor of the present day idli.

"Manasolasa" written by Someshwara 111 who was King of Karnataka in 1130AD contains a few words on idli. Interestingly it lacks mention of soaking rice with urad dhal, fermenting and steam cooking.

Basically what it means is, all the above three steps did not exist in India during that time.
You know that our ancestors travelled a lot and they took along their minsters, travel advisors, astrologers, cooks and domestic helpers [maids].

During such a journey to Indonesia, did they come across the basic method of idli making along with the vessel to steam cook.

Methods of Idli Making:

Olden day method: Soak the rice and dhal for 6 hrs, grind it in a stone grinder [attu kallu, which was laborious and time consuming], ferment overnight, pour the entire content in a cloth sack, steam it, cut  into smaller pieces and consumed.

Present day method: Soak rice and dhal, grind it in grinder, ferment it, pour in idli maker plates, stem cook for 10-12 minutes.

Modern day method: "Idli Ready Mix"...idli is ready within a couple of hours....very easy.

Instant Idli: Available in restaurants......which is my favourite.

Goodness of Idli:
Rice : Carbohydrate
Dhal: Protein.
Fermenting process: Allows good bacteria to develop which helps the nutrients to be absorbed quickly and develop good gut flora.
Steam cooking: Healthy oil less cooking.

Image courtesy: Kungumam.

Variety and Taste: It depends on the variety of rice used, fermenting temperature and duration, most importantly the hand which mixes the batter.

In some varieties, idlis are steamed in banana leaf/ tumeric leaf/ jack fruit leaf which gives it a special taste and aroma. In Karnataka, a special variety is prepared using whole black urad dhal known as "Udina Idli".

In present day eating market there are countless varieties more than 70 ranging from mini idlis to chilli idlis to sweet dried fruit idlis.

For the batter:
Idli rice [puzhungal arisi] : 5 cups.
Whole urad dhal [skin removed]: 1 cup.
Fenugreek seeds: 1tsp.
Bicarbonate of soda: 2 pinches for 250ml of batter.
Salt : to taste.

1.Wash and soak the rice for 4-6 hrs.
2.Wash the dhal along with the fenugreek seeds and soak for 4-6 hrs.
3.Grind the dhal first to a smooth butter consistency. Remove and keep it aside.
4.Grind the rice. Mix the rice and dhal paste together. Cover and keep in a warm place.
5. Leave it to ferment overnight.

6.The next day, make sure that the batter has risen well - u will  see small bubbles as u mix the batter. Keep the batter refrigerated.
7.When u want to make idli, it is necessary to keep the required amount of batter at room temperature for atleast 1/2 hr.
8.Add 2 pinches of soda bicarb for every cup of batter [250ml] and salt to taste, a little water for the required consistency [thicker for idli and a little thinner for dosa] and mix well.

9. Pour it on idli plates and steam cook for 10-12 mins.

Enjoy soft yummy idlis with sambhar or chutney or podi or just plain ghee and sugar.

Entry for the event "Food Palette Series-White" by torviewtoronto.blogspot.com


Scribbled by Reva.


Torviewtoronto said...

looks wonderful thank you for linking

Muraligeetham said...

Yummy soft Idly ..I love idlies..

seetha hariharan said...

Hi Revathi,
I like your recipes. tasty idli Thanks

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