THEME:#188 IDLY MEDLEY
What is Idli?
Idli or Idly is a popular South Indian savory steamed cake which is usually made from rice and black lentils(urad dal). The batter is allowed to ferment overnight without yeast or other raising agents. Next day its steamed in a idli stand or in small bowls. Its a popular breakfast dish and is served with usually with a coconut chutney and sambhar. Sambhar is a lentil stew or dal, with some vegetables and spices added to it. The idli is soaked in the sambhar, topped with chutney and enjoyed. There are a variety of instant Idlis which requires no fermenting and can be made within 30-40 minutes. The most common one is made using semolina but these days other grains are also used.
Why is Idli healthy?
Its a low calorie, filling and healthy breakfast option. It fills the tummy and does not make one feel lethargic. It provides energy and is easy to digest. Lactic acid bacteria present in the fermented idli batter, helps to alter the PH balance of the intestines making it a healthy food. The fermented process increases the bioavailability of nutrients like folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, biotin and Vitamin-K as well as some antibiotic & anti carcinogenic substances. This is because micro-organisms break down complex protein, carbohydrates and fats more efficiently, enabling easy assimilation of nutrients. This also aids a healthy gut flora, since absorption of minerals and vitamins is so much easier. Each idli is only 39 calories. However, the calorie input goes up when paired with chutney and sambhar. But still the overall calorie intake is less than any other popular breakfast dishes like pancakes or puri bhaji as the sambhar will have only a small amount of oil or ghee that is used for tempering spices and herbs. Fat found in coconut is of the healthy kind.
Is Idli is popular?
It definitely is. A poor man too can afford a hearty meal. There are so many variations of idlis today. Healthy grains like semolina, millets, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, oats, other lentils, etc are used to make healthier idlis. Idlis have taken on a new birth or avatar as Manchurian idlis, idli chaat, cocktail idlis, sweet and sour idli, idli 65, cheese baked idlis etc. With so many varieties to suit every palate, idlis have become an anytime snack right from breakfast to dinner and in between.
Why am I going into details about Idli for this post? Well, it was my turn to suggest ideas for #188th theme.Some argue that the rice is not good for health but these days rice is easily substituted to include more healthier grains to make this healthy breakfast. As a result I suggested making idlis without rice and another idea. All the members of the group opted for idlis and then fellow member Archana informed us that 30th March is World Idli Day. I didn’t even know that existed. So planning began to make this a memorable event for the group.
World Idli Day
30th March has been celebrated as the World Idli Day since 2015. How did this day come about? Its not set by the Government of India or UN or any important body. It is believed that a popular idli only caterer from Chennai, Eniyavan, made a staggering 1,328 varieties of idlis in 2015 to instate this day. A staggering 44 kg idli was also cut by a top bureaucrat to seal the deal as they say and henceforth March 30 became World Idli Day.
I have made idlis using semolina, millet and this time I chose to use buckwheat which is known as kuttu in hindi. Initially I thought I’d use buckwheat flour and then realized that the flour may not ferment well. I used buckwheat groat and some urad dal. It is believed that the raw materials like rice and other grains and lentils have small quantity of a specific lactic acid bacteria present. When they are soaked the lactic acid bacteria increase and further more increase when the batter is resting. The lactic acid and carbon dioxide produced by bacteria help to ferment and raise the batter. My batter fermented so well, that I didn’t need to use any leavening agent like baking soda.
Here’s the recipe of buckwheat idlis. Make these or any idli of your choice to celebrate World Idli day. I know I’m definitely going to have idlis on 30th March. Do you want to know my favorite Idlis? I simply love Kanjipuram Idli and Podi Idli.
Makes 12 normal idlis +15 mini ones
1 cup roasted or unroasted buckwheat groat
½ cup urad dal (split black gram lentils)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
some oil or ghee for smearing
- Wash urad dal and buckwheat groat separately.
- Soak buckwheat groat and lentils separately in warm water. Avoid using chlorinated water. Use filtered water.
- Let them soak overnight.
- Next day drain out the soaked water and save it.
- Grind the urad dal first using about ½ cup soaked water. The paste should be smooth.
- Remove the paste into a big bowl.
- Add the soaked buckwheat into the blender jug. Add about ¾ cup of soaked water and grind to a paste which is slightly coarse.
- Add the ground buckwheat to the urad dal paste.
- Add fenugreek seeds and mix the batter well.
- Cover the bowl with a lid and put it away in a warm place to ferment.
- I like to leave it in the oven.
- The batter should ferment in 8-12 hours time, depending on how hot the weather is.
- Add salt to the fermented batter and mix it very gently.
- Lightly smear oil on the idli moulds.
- Add enough water in the steaming pan. (it should not touch the bottom idli tray).
- Let the water become hot. In the meantime spoon about 1-1½ tablespoon full into each greased mould.
- Lower the stacked tray into the idli steaming pan.
- Shut it with the lid and let the idlis steam for 10 minutes.
- Remove the stack of trays.
- Let the idlis cool for 4-6 minutes. Using a butter knife or small spatula remove the idlis from the mould.
- Repeat steps 15-20 with the remaining batter.
- Serve hot idlis with coconut chutney and sambhar.
For Podi Idlis:
2 tbsp Podi Masala
1 sprig curry leaves
2 tbsp grated fresh coconut
2 tbsp ghee
15 mini idlis or cut large ones into small pieces
- Heat ghee in a wide pan over medium heat.
- Add curry leaves and coconut. Stir fry for a few seconds till you get the aroma of coconut.
- Add the podi masala and mix well.
- Immediately add the idlis. Keep on mixing it gently till the idlis get coated with the masala.
- Serve immediately with some chutney and sambhar.
- Don’t add salt to the batter before fermentation. Salt prevents fermentation.
- It is believed that the soaked water contains lactic acid bacteria which is essential for fermentation.
- Over steaming the idlis will make them hard. Its best to set a timer and steam them for for 10 minutes for normal size ones and 5 minutes for the mini ones.
- Use steel or silicon bowls or cups to steam idli in a steamer if you do not have an idli steamer.
- Every household have their own unique recipe for the sambhar and chutneys. No two preparations will taste the same.
- There are so many varieties of chutneys prepared that can be served with idlis.
- I like to leave the sambhar slightly watery as the idlis tend to soak up the sambhar.
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You may want to check out the following Idli recipes by fellow bloggers:
- Beetroot Idli by Renu
- Coriander Rava Idly by Jolly Makkar
- Oats Idli-Instant by Avin Kohli
- Spinach and Rajkot Chutney Idli by Jagruti Dhanecha
- Green Moong Idli by Sujata Roy
- Stuffed Ragi Idlis by Geetanjali Tung
- Stuffed Idly by Priya Srinivasan
- Tasty Puli Idli by Lathiya Shanmugasundaram
- Sago Idli by Jayashree Trao
- Bajri Idli and Stir Fried Idli by Mayuri
- Instant Semolina Idli by Mayuri
- Idli Chaat by Mayuri
To celebrate World Idli Day members of FoodieMonday/Bloghop Group made some delicious, soft and innovative idlis. They’ve used alternate grains like quinoa, oats, almond meal, only lentils, rice flakes, soya, semolina, millets, buckwheat to make the idlis. Please check out their recipes by clicking on the links.
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