The Internet and cookbooks are inundated with recipes on how you can get those perfectly soft and fluffy idlis. This isn’t another recipe. Instead, expert chef Pankaj Bhadouria believes that the secret to making perfectly soft idlis lies in the batter. Here are some dos and don’ts that you should follow to ace it:
1. First things first, urad daal must be used in the batter. Pick the unpolished, whole-grained variety, with an off-white hue. It’s important to use unpolished urad daal—which is dull-looking and powdery on touch—because this variety is high in fibre that is required for the natural fermentation of the batter. The heat generated during polishing can rid the grains of fibre. It’s important to note that for best results, fresh, off-white or cream-coloured urad daal must be used. You will know it is stale, if it has a tinge of yellow.
2. The second important ingredient that goes into a good idli batter is short- and fat-grained, translucent parboiled rice. Parboiling alters the nature of the rice starch, making the grain less sticky. This allows the batter to rise well, giving way to fluffy idlis.
3. The secret ingredients that should be added to your idli batter for fluffy results are poha and fenugreek seeds. Adding poha to the batter makes for the softest idlis, while fenugreek seeds aid in fermentation and fluffiness. Be careful not to use too much of fenugreek, else the idlis may taste bitter.
4. Idli batter should never be vigorously beaten or stirred, else the air that is incorporated in the batter during the fermentation process will be released causing the idlis to fall flat. Don’t forget to grease the idli moulds before you pour in the batter.
5. If you end up with some leftover batter, don’t worry, you can refrigerate it. But first, cover the batter with paan leaves to prevent the batter from souring. It’s important to bring the batter to room temperature before you steam it. So, take it out from the fridge an hour prior to steaming, because idlis made of cold batter turn out rubbery or hard.
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