- For Idli and Dosai batter
- Idli rice or parboiled rice - 3 cups
- Raw rice or Long grain rice - 3 cups
- Poha (Aval) - 1/2 cup
- Whole urad dhal - 1 cup
Idli is a fat free food. It is easy to digest, so it can be given to people of all ages. It has carbohydrate and protein.
Idli and dosai is a south Indian delicacy made by fermenting the batter for 10 - 12 hours and then steaming the batter. All the ingredients are very important for making soft idli. Rice has two types of sugar called amylose and amylopectin, which helps the yeast in the air to breed and work on the batter to rise. Yeast in the air is called wild yeast, which is different from bakers yeast. Some people add a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds or a cup of cooked rice while grinding the batter to attract the wild yeast. Yeast needs warm temperature and sugar to thrive on the batter. That is why the batter it fermented at a temperature of 75 - 80 degrees. Enzymes in the yeast and the rice cause large starch molecules to break down into simple sugars. The yeast metabolizes these simple sugars and releases carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol into the batter. Protein from urad dal helps to hold the air bubbles. As more and more tiny air cells fill with carbon dioxide, the dough rises and we're on the way to make spongy idlis. Adding bakers yeast or baking soda does not do the trick as wild yeast does. I found that adding poha (Aval) to the batter makes softer idlis and utthappam. If you are making the batter solely for crispy dosai you can eliminate poha. I use the same batter for both idli and dosai.
- Wash the two types of rice and poha together and soak it for four hours.
- Wash and soak the urad dhal in a separate bowl for four hours.
- Grind the urad dal into a fine paste using a blender or wet grinder. The urad dhal batter should be ultra fine and have a silky texture. If you scoop it with your hand the batter holds up like whipped cream. It take about 30 - 40 minutes to get to that consistency. Transfer the batter to a container big enough to mix urad dal and rice.
- Add the rice and poha mixture and grind it till rice is broken down to fine rava. This process also takes another 30 minutes.
- Transfer the rice batter to the urad dal container and add 6 teaspoons of salt. Mix them both together by hand by beating and swirling till the urad dall is completely blended to rice. This process also helps to attract yeast in air.
Be wary of adding water while grinding. The batter should not be too thick or too thin.
- When both the mixture is blended completely, cover it and let it ferment in a warm place for about 10 - 12 hours.
During winter, heat the oven at 200 degrees for 5 minutes and turn it off. Let the batter ferment in the oven. If needed, take out the batter from oven and repeat the heating process once or twice.