The Idli chronicles

We love idlis, those fluffy white steamlings from the south. Traditionally, idlis are made of fermented rice and lentil batter. Idli batter grinders are specialty equipment, and my blender was no match for them, so I had only made the easier semolina version.

Now that I have my 1/2 horse power monster food processor, it was time to take the plunge. I followed this recipe, soaked the rice and lentils for five hours and then ground them. Fermentation in the sanitized US environment is a problem, so I followed all the good instructions that came with the recipe and here. The batter picks up wild yeast from the air, and surely there was plenty of it in my kitchen. I covered the mixing bowl with cling wrap and put it in the warm oven overnight. In the morning? Nothing. The bowl had been 1/4th full, and the batter had not risen an inch.

Hmm. Well, since yeast is a living thing, maybe it needed to breathe. I replaced the plastic wrap with a wet towel. Voila! The batter started to rise like the river in February.


The idlis were good, but mostly I was just happy about the fermentation.


Next, appey from the leftover batter.

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About purplesque

Psychiatrist, cook, bookworm, photographer. Not necessarily in that order.
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14 Responses to The Idli chronicles

  1. Emjay says:

    Well, it is midnight here and I am about to go to bed – but you have still managed to make me feel hungry!!

  2. Purplesque says:

    My apologies. I just woke up and finished this post – managed to make myself hungry! Does that help? lol*goes to make tea*

  3. Karen Lynn says:

    Do they taste like cookies? They look yummy :))Gathering wild yeast from the air…lol, I've done that. We had a recipe for Amish Friendship bread that was similar to this one, but proofed the same way you described. hugs, K

  4. Purplesque says:

    🙂 I'm afraid they don't taste like cookies..more like a sourdough cake. Gathering wild yeast from the air definitely increases their coolness quotient, though, don't you think? lolI recently had Amish bread and it was great..and this is an eggless recipe!! Thanks a lot, I'm going to make this soon.

  5. Karen Lynn says:

    mm thats a different taste than I was expecting, but I like it! can you taste the yeast in the cakes? I've not tried this recipe that I posted here for you, my starter came from my sister-in-law. The starters made their way through our family one year, it was fun. Amish Friendship bread recipe is for the starter. I don't remember using yeast at all making the bread, and this one calls for it, so I am assuming its the starter, but that would mess up the recipe you pass to 2 friends with the starter if you added yeast. My brain hurts, from thinking about this too much lol (giggling here) Oh yeah K, we were gathering yeast from the air. Duh. I'm going to google a bit farther into this…don't want to pass you faulty info.

  6. Karen Lynn says:

    Ok I got it figured out now. This recipe: Amish Friendship Bread, would be the one you give to a friend with a cup of the starter. You would also give them the directions to make the dough. The funniest part of this whole thing is that I never realized you could make your own starter, I figured it always had to come from somebody. I really threw your blog off track didn't I? Sorry about that…going back to bed with my CPM machine. 😉

  7. Purplesque says:

    Lol..no you didn't. Thanks for all the info. The original starter recipe said..take out one cup to make your bread, then pass it on. I assumed that would be used as dough for bread..silly me!The idlis do taste sour..a mild yeast taste. Not as strong as a good sourdough.

  8. bee says:

    thank you, thank you thank you. i'll try the cloth thing and get back to you. your idlis look magnificent.

  9. Purplesque says:

    Thank you..I hope the cloth helps! I do keep Eno on hand, just in case. 🙂

  10. That's fascinating! I've never made anything that need to rise, so I wouldn't have known what to do. They look so delicious!!

  11. Purplesque says:

    Times like these, I miss my mom..she always knows what to do! :)I just realized..you take time to read All your neighbor's posts and post comments; that is so cool. Thanks, Robbie!!

  12. pelicano says:

    Hey, nice blog you have here, and inspiring colour you achieved with the idlis! Plus they're healthier and all, I know… 🙂 I'm curious: which brown rice did you use?

  13. Purplesque says:

    Thank you! I used brown basmati and rosematta. Then we went and bought ourselves some real idli rice; will try a combo of idli rice and rosematta the next time.

  14. OMG! This is really too tempting! I'll have to try to make this. I wish I could eat them through the screen. 😛

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