A day of a typical south Indian will always start with tiffins (Breakfast) where Idly is the most prominent. Any food joint which opens for tiffins will start its day with Idly. As a customer steps in to a restaurant or hotel or fast food joint first they look and ask about Idly. By the way what is so special about this great traditional dish.
First of all unlike many tiffins idly is primarily steam cooked, very light, easy digestible, rich in protein and carbohydrates, rich in fibre, probiotics and no fat. What else required to start a day and give a zeal to your tummy?
Common accompaniments for Idly includesCoconut Chutney, Ginger Chutney, Peanut Chutney, Tomato Chutney, Sambar (rich lentil soup made from fresh vegetables) and milagaipodi (lentil powder)
The most important step in making idly is stone grinding. In my childhood days where modern grinders or mixes are not so popular, I do remember my grandmotherJankammaused to make batter with stone grinders which are rolled using hands.
A fresh urad dhal (black gram) is soaked for 8 hrs and rice or cream of rice is also soaked for the same duration separately. A fist full of soaked lintels will be thrown in to the grinding well with one hand while the stone is been rotated with other hand. This is done in such a precise and fast coordination of hands and eyes. At a regular intervals the batter is pushed back into well and also dropping new fist full as grinding progress. Stone grinder base is very heavy may be around 80 kgswhere as the rotating stone used to be 15 kgs. This process incorporate aeration in the batter and making it very light and puffy. It will become so light when we take a spoon of batter and blow air with your mouth it will fly in air like a small cotton ball. To this batter soaked cream of rice or grounded rice cream will be added
At The Dosa Hub, we make our Idly batter using two motorized stone grinders, one was used for grinding urad dal and the other for grounding rice cream. Grinding process will take around 1.5 hrs for a batch of 100 idly’s. Another important factor for making good idly’s are fermentation. Right fermentation is a must for perfect Authentic idly. At The Dosa Hub we built a fermentation chamber for Idly, Dosa, Vada, poori, naan etc. This will give ambient environment with controlled humidity, temperature and light for perfect raising of batter and give perfect taste. Batter cannot be neither too sour nor sweet, right taste will give a different level of relishing experience
Another important part of making perfect South Indian Idly at The Dosa Hub is perfect steaming. We bought a traditional idly cooker where bottom tank will be filled with fresh water and has vents to flow steam all the way up to the top and circulates down. This traditional cooker will give consistent cooking of all idlys in one batch. First the cooker needs to be heated up and then idly plates filled with batter will be placed. After 10 mins flame has to be bought down to slow and cook for 15 mins before we switch off the flame. We have to wait for 20 mins before we open the door as steam inside the chamber has to settled and cooking process to be stopped. Otherwise idlys will be soggy and half cooked.
There is a way of relishing a perfect South Indian Idly is (The Dosa Hub choice); Take one idly leave it in a bowl of pipping hot sambar topped with few drops of Ghee. While the idly is soaking in sambar, cut first piece of idly from your plate, dip it in Coconut chutney eat slowly, then second bite should come from the idly soaked in sambar, then taken another bite from the plate dip in peanut chutney then eat slowly. Repeat this process of chutney sambar and chutney process till you hunt the last drop of sambar from the bowl. If you left with more sambar or more chutneys or left short of them then the bite sizes are not consistent, which means you need to practice more of eating them together.