Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Idli - Sambar

Idli/Dosa is a favorite and popular not just in India, but the rest of the world too. Dosa might be the favoite of most people, but for me Idli is just as much my favorite as Dosa :-) My parents used to tell that "Idli is the safest food to have when you are travelling to another State in India as it doesnt contain any oil which can cause stomach trouble" .

After coming to US I didnt have the luxury of having good Idli's except once in a blue moon when we visit an Indian restaurant. When I see Idli's once in a while (or for that matter any favorite food), I cant stop myself from hogging, I just ignore the stares I might get from doing this :-D So we usually go for buffets where the serving is unlimited :-D

Here is the recipe:


Urad dal : 1 cup
Idli rice: 2 cups
Methi seeds or Methi powder : 1/2 teaspoon
Water to soak the dal and rice
Salt as per taste
Idli stand
Pressure cooker or steamer for steaming the idlis


Make the fermented batter as described here in my dosa recipe. The batter for idli should be thicker than dosa. So reduce the amount of water you add to the batter the day you plan to make idli's.

Apply a little oil on each of the idli mould of the idli stand to make it easier to scoop out the idlis from the edges when it is done cooking. Pour idli batter in each of the mould so that its not completly filled as the batter would start overflowing if it is completly filled. Steam the idli's without using the whistle in a steamer or pressure cooker for around 5-10 minutes during which a steady steam of water passes through the vent. Lower the heat to medium and let it cook for another two-three minutes. Remove the lid and scoop out the idlis on plates. Serve along with chutney, sambar, potato curry, or pickle :) I also roast left over idli's , its yummy too :)

Update: Dear friends, I felt that I had to write this after I saw your comments. The idli's look very soft, but let me tell you, they were quiet hard in the middle when they cooled down. Any idea why? If its my proportion, I welcome all suggestion based on the fact that I am using a US blender and not Indian mixie or wet grinder. I would also love to know what proportion you use while using a wet grinder and mixie. The dosas come out well though. I use the batter here for both Idli/Dosa batter. I make the batter, let it ferment and on the day I plan to make idli/dosa, I keep away some batter for making Idli's , add a little water to make the batter a little less thick than the original batter. For dosas, I make it less thicker than idli batter. I appreciate your suggestions, so please do write back more of it :)

Plain dosa with sambar and pickle

I love dosa so much that I can eat "xx" dosas (I would be embarrassed if I revealed the number hehehe ) . Making dosa in US is a tedious process if you are staying in colder regions. I had recently read a post at Jugalbandi where the difficulty met with fermenting idli and dosa batter is written. A well written post :) . It was like reading my own experience :) . I too don't have light in my oven to help the batter rise (except the time when we were in Miami). I too don't have a Indian Mixie or a Wet Grinder .

Just a bit anxious to buy it online because of the "No-return" policy of the websites which sells these appliances.

I just have one rant to make here, just couldn't keep it anymore in my mind - why do only our Indian sites never offer a return policy? Another thing is me and V had several bad experiences with some of the Indian stores we visited in and around Framingham. There was an occasion where cash had to be credited back to our credit card and the owner refused point blank without even an apology and asked us to purchase something else from his store with the cash he had to credit to our card. What a nasty fellow ! We felt so annoyed and told him to keep the money and walked out swearing to ourselves never to enter that store again ! For a country like US where "Customer is the king", some of our Indian people in US don't know what Customer Service is all about. They don't even smile at you at some places. Doesn't matter whether you purchase anything or not from their store ! But its like a saying in Malayalam, "To get your work done, eventually you will need to even fall to a donkey's feet". So we are in that situation now, the numerous US blenders and food processors we purchased, unfortunately didn't serve our purpose when it comes to making perfect dosas, idlis, or coconut chutney...sigghhh...its been more than 6 months from my last India-trip where I had the last coconut chutney :( ... I just keep drooling at my blog Friends picture's when they post such recipes. These days the Dosa Mela at Srivalli's blog just pushed me to start forcing V to buy me a Indian Mixie or Grinder :-) He is agreed to buy me one too ,hurray !!

I guess I better start the recipe now. I made this dosa with a US blender purchased from Target. Its plain dosa. Here is the recipe: This is my entry for Srivalli's Dosa Mela


Urad dal: 1 cup
Idli rice (don't know what variety this is as it just mentioned "Idli rice" on the packet): 2 cups
Methi seeds powder (I powdered the methi seeds in my coffee grinder. You may add whole methi seeds to the dal during the soaking process and then grind it along with the dal later) : 1/2 teaspoon
Salt: to taste
Water for soaking the dal and rice
Oil for making dosa


Soak rice and urad dal separately in lots of water for atleast 4-5 hours. (Tip: Soak these in filtered water as I read on Internet that the wild yeast which is responsible for fermenting the idli/dosa batter is found in filtered water. Also don't wash the urad dal too much). Also if you are planning to add methi seeds, add it now to the urad dal.

Next day grind the dal along with the methi seeds using very little water (if the blender refuses to cooperate, add tablespoons of water one tablespoon at a time) in your blender. I am yet to grind it in mixie/grinder, so I cant tell how efficiently you can grind it in them. Grind it for a long time (I feel it took me around 15 minutes including the breaks I gave to the blender to stop it from overheating). I guess while using a mixie or wet grinder, it grinds much faster and smoother. Next grind the rice using the same process as for grinding the urad dal.

Mix both the batters, and thoroughly combine before adding salt. Next add salt as required. (Tip: If you are adding methi powder instead of methi seeds, add it now and stir everything to combine well. Methi is added to help the fermentation.) Keep the batter for fermentation overnight in a warm oven (which is switched off ofcourse). Or ferment it according to your tested method :-)

Make dosas the next day or the day it ferments ! :) (it took a day and half to ferment in my case) Heat a flat pan to high, reduce to medium-low, wait for the heat to reduce a little. Pour a ladle full of batter on the pan and move the ladle in a spiral way to make dosa. You may also chose not to flatten the dosa, this makes thick dosa which is usually made for making Utthappam. If you are not using a non-stick pan, spray a little oil on the pan before you add the batter.
Else if you are using a non-stick pan, you may spray oil when the dosa is half done on one side. Flip the dosa when the edges start leaving the pan a little, and some portions on the spirals of the dosa turns brown like in the picture below. Lower the fire and take off the dosa from the pan after a minute. I sometimes make "kutti dosa" (I learned it from my mom who used to make small dosas (using less batter in the laddle) for my lunch at school when I was a bad-eater (means I never ate much food unlike now :-D ), it helped me as I was relieved to see the size of the dosa I had to eat :)
The dosa is flipped to cook both sides.

A fully cooked dosa.

Serve along with hot sambar, coconut chutney or pickle :) You can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack :)

Done :D

The other dosas in my blog are:

Left-Over Lentil Instant Dosa

Cabbage dosa


Bread Omelette

Onion Utthappam

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