Idli is a traditional breakfast/dinner in almost all South Indian households. The idlis are made by steaming a batter made of fermented black lentil, rice, and fenugreek. This is tried and tested foolproof recipe to get soft idli.
To make idli soft following steps should be followed:
Choose good quality rice and urad dal – Rice and urad dal plays important role in getting soft idlis. Use only parboiled rice/ idli rice or idli pulungal arisi in Tamil. This rice variety looks smaller and round in shape. Also, use whole white urad dal. Make sure urad dal is fresh and not kept for more than a month. We South Indians purchase urad dal when needed. It cannot be stored for a long period of time. If it is stored for a longer time, while grinding it will not be fluffy and the resulting idli would be hard.
Soak – Soak Urad dal in water for one hour. Also, soak idli rice and fenugreek in water for one hour. After soaking, thoroughly wash urad dhal and rice separately for 3-4 times and set aside. Don’t wash before soaking dal & rice. Wash it after soaking, so that you will get nice white idlis.
Grind – Urad dal should be ground for at least 35-40 minutes. Add a little by little water at a time and grind to smooth paste until the batter is light and fluffy. After grinding to smooth paste you can see that the volume of urad dal batter had increased 7-8 times. This is the proper consistency.
After removing urad dal no need to clean the grinder, just add soaked rice and fenugreek along with a little water in the wet grinder. Add little by little water at a time while grinding. Grind it into a slightly coarse paste. Once done remove the batter from the grinder and mix it with the urad dal batter. We always grind urad dal first and rice next as it is easy to clean the grinder.
Fermenting – Fermenting plays important role in getting soft spongy idli. Add required salt to urad rice batter and mix it thoroughly using your hand. If the batter is more, transfer it to two separate bowls to fills up only with half of the bowl capacity to allow enough space for the batter to swell during fermentation. Let it rest for 8-10 hours to ferment at room temperature approx 25 – 40C. I usually grind it in the evening and let it ferment overnight.
Refrigerate – Mix the fermented batter and keep in the refrigerator for later use. If you want to make idli or dosa, remove the idli batter from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature for approximately 4-5 hours. If you pour batter immediately after removing from the fridge, idlis will turn hard. Or else you need to add baking soda to get soft idlis.
Why Idli turns hard – If the idli batter consistency is thicker, then idli turns hard. Adjust water accordingly or even you can add a pinch of baking soda. If the batter is watery, idli won’t be soft and fluffy, it would be flat. Also if the urad dal quantity is more than rice flour, the idli would be flat. If used immediately after removing from refrigerator idli turns hard. So make sure to keep idli batter at room temperature for at least 4-5 hours.
Using the same batter we can make dosa, uttapam, appam and paniyaram. Now let us see how to prepare this soft idli.
Melt in mouth soft idli is ready to relish along Tiffin Sambar, Coconut Chutney, Mint Chutney and Idli Milagai Podi.