Cricket has been a huge part of the majority of Indian homes and from the looks of it, will continue to be. This has been one religion that marries the whole of our country. Tensions leading to heavy betting and self mutilation(nail biting included) are all part and parcel of this religion.
Fortunately or not the only exposure I’ve had to this game was when my cousin played with his friends in the little make shift playground behind our rented house. That was when I was 10. Pappa was a Tennis fan and so I grew up watching tons of tennis tournaments and having crushes on Agassi and Boris Becker and admiring Steffi Graf. I then grew some more and realized that all my friends knew so much about cricket and I was clueless. I ditched Tennis to try and understand the game that my peer group seemed to be crazy about so that I could “fit in”. I wasn’t very successful - I still dont fit in. I don’t understand the thrill behind every match and I don’t understand the lbw or the wide and I have no clue who the players are anymore - except Tendulkar ofcourse!
So I take comfort in being in my safe place and playing the game that I have come to enjoy - cooking :) One of my favourite comfort food is Idly with THenga or Ulli CHamanthi(Coconut or Onion CHutney). 80% of my school lunches has been idly with sambar or chutney. I’ve never dared to try making the idly batter myself till very recently when the greed for the fluffy steamed rice cake overcame my fear of making its batter.
The best that I can suggest is a 1:3 ratio of urad dal/white lentil and rice(sona masuri or basmati). Here also I urge you to experiment with multiple rice types. Sona Masuri and basmati are the two types I’ve tried. You can also get idly rice in Indian grocery stores. The next time I make us some idly I’m gonna try some jasmine rice!
The catalyst I use to start the fermentation process is flat rice/poha. You can also use cooked rice if you have some leftover.
Now you must be wondering what I did special to make such a long post of it… I experimented some more - I substituted 2 cups white rice with whole green gram and brown rice.
A warning before you start : The Idly cooker/stand is a must for this recipe.
Roughly adapted from Coconuty Tales and customized to accomodate the ingredients in my pantry:
1 = 1/2 Cup. This yields 20 medium sized idlies.
Normally you need not soak it for more than 4-5 hours but since I used brown rice which takes more time to soak I let it stay longer. This idly is very rich in protein and is much healthier than the regular idly. The texture is not as soft as the idly I’m accustomed to but is tasty nonetheless.
A lot of Indians have a mixie specially for making idly/dosa batter and when I tried the first time I was scared I’d burn the delicate motor of my osterizer 10 speed blender. Luckily its been a year now and it’s still alive and thriving! I use the High -Liquefy/Grind setting.
Catalyst for fermentation - 1 Cup pohaor cooked rice. My advice would be to go with poha. Just before you start grinding just soak the poha in the water along with all the other ingredients.
Depending on the quantity you’ve used grind in batches so that you don’t tax your grinder. I would do it in 2 batches and grind to a very smooth consistency. Be a little patient as it might take anywhere between 15-20 minutes of total grinding time. The batter should of cake batter consistency so use just enough water while grinding. After you grind empty the batter into a large vessel and keep closed so that you give it enough space to rise. If you have done it right the batter will easily double in quantity. The fermentation process needs another 8 hours and a warm place. I usually trust my oven to do the job. 76-78 F is an ideal temperature for healthy fermentation. The fermented batter with be light and fluffy and filled with air bubbles.
You can add salt before you start the fermentation process of after. Either ways it won’t be a problem.
Once the fermentation is done you can store the batter in the fridge for upto a week(if it lasts that long)
Oil the idly dish well and pour the batter into the spaces provided. The bottom of the idly stand should be filled with water upto 2 inches high. Steam closed for about 10-12 minutes on medium high. Check to see if idly is done by using the toothpick/forktest. Stick the fork or toothpick into the top most idly. It wont come out clean but if it is done it wont be sticky. At the most it should take 15 minutes. Don’t steam it for longer than that. Turn off heat and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes.
Use a flat stainless steep spatula to remove the idliesfrom the stand. Dip the spatula in water and carefully insert the spatula along the circumference of the idly. Ease your way in and it should come out smoothly. Don’t fret if it doesnt happen the first time. Dip your spatula in water and try again. :) Trust me my first idly still comes out crying ‘murder’ and its the first one I down.
Now for the best part. Eating it. Idlies can be served with a sweet accompaniment or spicy chutneys. My grandfather used to love wating idly with sugar mixed with clarified butter(cow ghee). I love my Mom’s famous spicy onion chutney or try soaking it in Sambar. I made a simple chutney using freshly grated coconut, fresh coriander, ginger and salt with some Tadka.
A confession: I’ve never really made it through the whole movie - Lagaan, which is one the most famous movies made on India’s favourite sport. Please forgive me all you cricket lovers.