There can never be a chettinad breakfast being served without idly .It always forms the main course in the breakfast. Chettiar ladies are always good at making soft idlies.Though simple many things has to be taken care of right from the selection of rice, soaking the ingredients, grinding ,mixing and storing the grinded batter for a few days etc etc.
Boiled rice-4 cups
Urad dhal(black gram) -1 cup
Fenugreek seed-1 teaspoon full
Selection of rice and urudh dhal
Boiled rice which are little fat and small in length compared to other rice will be good for idlies.In different areas they call it by different names.(Kattai vellai,Ponmani and so on).while going for urudh dhal always try to get whole white dhal which will give more dough than the broken ones. People who live abroad have no other go than to get the idly rice from the Indian stores. Remember the brand name of the rice that give good idlies and go for it the next time you buy rice for idly.
Rice should be washed nicely and soaked at least for 2 hours. No harm will be done if rice is soaked long
Trick of making soft idlies depend much on urudh dhal soaking too.
Dhal should be soaked only for 45 minutes. Over soaking will reduce the quantity of batter
Wash the dhal nicely and pour 3 cups of water and soak. Add the fenugreek seed to the dhal Use the water in the soaked dhal for grinding. If you are not able to grind after soaking keep it in the refrigerator and take out 15 minutes before grinding.
Grinding the dough in the grinder will always be the best. But the bachelors who won’t have grinders have to depend on the mixies.Sumeet mixie is my choice for grinding.
While grinding in the mixie urudh dhal should be grinded carefully. Never allow the jar to be heated. Ice water can be used for grinding which will help the batter to be cold. Add water 2 to 3 times and grind the dhal to a fine paste.Dont pour all the water in the beginning itself. I always find it better if the rice is also grinded to a smooth paste. But I have read in many places that rice should not become a smooth paste. Many have doubt in the order of grinding. Mostly people grind urudh dhal first since cleaning the grinder after grinding rice will be easy. I don’t think the order of grinding does any difference to the quality of idly.
Mixing the batter
Add the salt needed for the batter (for 4 cups of rice 3 table spoons of salt) in little water pour it into the batter and mix it well upside down for 5 minutes. Much depend on mixing also. Keep the batter in a big container and mix.
After mixing the batter transfer it into 2 to 3 containers .See to it that the containers are filled only three fourth the capacity. Allow space for fermenting. Ferment it by keeping outside for 6 to 8 hours according to season in tropical countries. In western countries it can be fermented in their own ways. After fermenting refrigerate it. I always find Tupperware boxes best suited for storing since it retains the consistency till the last day of use.
If the quality of urudh dhal you use is excellent then idlies will become flat. In that case reduce the amount of urudh dhal next time. If the dhal is very bad in quality or the batter is mixed to a thicker consistency idlies will become hard. In that case next time use a little more dhal .Make sure the consistency of the batter is neither too watery nor too thick.