Idlis are a huge south Indian favorite! Steamed flour and lentil dumplings are a lovely comfort food for breakfast, lunch, a snack or even dinner. Usually the idlis are eaten with a spicy chutney, milagai podi (a spicy blend of roasted spices) or sambar.
Its difficult to find perfectly soft idlis, even in the heart of southern India. Here is a sure-fire recipe to get that perfect texture.
(makes approximately 20 idlis)
2 cups Idli Rice. This is a special kind of rice, available in most Indian supermarkets.
3/4 cup Urad Dal
2 tbsp Rock Salt, or ordinary table salt.
Soak the rice and dal separately for 2 hours each.Strain and wash the dal well. Grind with minimal water for about 45 minutes, sprinkling water every 10 minutes and scraping down the sides. The dal will double in volume. Keep aside.
Now strain and wash the rice well. Grind with minimal water for about 30 minutes, sprinkling water every 10 minutes and scraping down the sides. The ground rice will have a coarser texture than the ground dal.
Mix the ground rice and dal together and add about 2 tablespoons of rock salt. Mix well while simultaneously dissolving the rock salt in the mixture.Keep aside covered in a warm place for about 8-10 hours, depending on the warmth. Warmer the better. The batter will double in volume.
Heat a deep steamer with about 2 inches of water at the bottom. Oil the idli plate (see picture), and add one ladle of batter for each idli. Place the idli plate into the steamer, making sure the water doesn't reach the pan. Close and steam for 10 minutes or until idlis are firm (when a skewer is inserted into the middle of the idli, it comes out clean).
Scoop out the idli with a spoon after it has slightly cooled down.
Enjoy with your favorite accompaniment.