Indian Street Food Recipes: Urad Dal Idli Recipe
Comfort food definitely takes the edge off even the roughest travel experience—and for me, idli (also transliterated as idly, iddli, or iddly) is one of those major comfort foods. Traditionally one part black lentils (urad dal) and two parts parboiled (or precooked) rice, the batter is fermented for flavor and then steamed. Spongy and light, with a slightly sour flavor and aroma, the idlis are usually a couple inches (about 5-7 centimeters) in diameter. This is an urad dal idli recipe, which includes black lentils (urad dal) and rice. Although the ingredients can vary, the urad dal and rice combination is the most common.
Idlis are a very popular breakfast dish or tiffin (snack) in South India. They are usually dipped into sambar (the South Indian spicy lentil soup) or coconut chutney (chatni). Goans make a similar dish called sanna and enduri pitha, another version, is served in the state of Orissa (or Odisha). Idlis are sometimes stuffed with sambar, and may include spices such as black pepper, chili pepper, cilantro, coconut, cumin, ginger, or mustard seeds. Several idlis can be steamed in a multi-tiered aluminum or stainless steel idli tree lined with cotton or parchment, and are sometimes steamed in banana or jackfruit leaves. Three-tiered metal idli trees can be purchased an Indian grocery stores, or you can improvise by using a muffin tray lined with parchment cups or brushed with vegetable oil or ghee.
Times have changed idli preparation. Electric grinders have replaced manual rock grinders, and although idlis are still traditionally steamed on the stove, electric and microwave steamers are also used. Airborne yeast and yeast on the dal causes fermentation, which helps break down the starches and enables the body to metabolize the carbohydrates.
The batter for this urad dal idli recipe should not be too thick or too thin, but light and airy. If it is too thick, the idlis will be thick and touch. If the batter is too thin, the idlis will be sticky.
Previously cooked idlis can be reheated in a covered, napkin-lined steaming basket.
Urad Dal Idli Recipe Yield:
Urad Dal Idli Recipe Equipment:
Food processor or blender
Idli molds (optional) or muffin tin with parchment cups
Urad Dal Idli Recipe Ingredients:
2/3 cups (150 grams) lentils (urad dal), split and dehusked
1-1/2 cups (360 grams) partly cooked (parboiled) basmati or other long-grain rice
1 (0.1 grams) teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon (0.1 grams) baking soda
Vegetable oil or ghee for molds
Urad Dal Idli Recipe Procedure:
- Rinse the lentils in a bowl, changing the water until it is no longer cloudy. Soak the lentils in room temperature water for 1 hour.
- Drain the lentils and put them in a food processor with a metal blade or a blender. Add a very small amount of water and process until the lentils form a smooth paste, just slightly thicker than pancake batter (approximately 3-5 minutes). If the batter is not smooth and does not move easily, add a very small amount of water and reprocess.
- Process the partly cooked (parboiled) rice in a food processor with a metal blade or blender until it is course and about the texture of cornmeal (about 1 minute).
- Add 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) of water and process for until the rice forms a smooth puree (approximately 3 minutes), scraping the side of the food processor bowl with a spoon or rubber spatula.
- Combine the lentil paste, ground rice, and salt in a medium-sized bowl, mixing well. The batter should be the consistency of thick pancake batter.
- Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place (approximately 90 degrees F or 32 degrees C) to ferment until it is covered in bubbles, foamy, doubled in size, and a pale-gold color (approximately 6-12 hours). If you are not ready to cook the idlis at this stage, you can refrigerate the batter for a couple hours.
- Gently stir the batter and put a small amount on a plate. It should spread slowly, but cannot be too thick or too thin. Use a small amount of flour or water to adjust the consistency, if necessary.
- Liberally brush the idli molds or parchment-lined muffin tins with vegetable oil or ghee. Heat 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of water in an idli steamer or stockpot over high heat until it is boiling.
- Gently fold in the baking soda and let the batter sit until it is the consistency of cake batter (approximately 10 minutes).
- Spoon enough batter into the molds to fill the depressions (approximately 2 tablespoons or 30 milliliter of batter). Cover, lower heat to a simmer, and steam until an inserted skewer comes out clean (approximately 10-15 minutes for small molds). The idlis will be light and round.
- Remove the idli molds from the hot water and gently remove the idlis.
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