Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Idli is a quick bread : gluten free and savory breakfast....



And it can be lower on carbs too...

I have always thought of Idli as a bread. The same puffy pillowy texture and the same mild yeasty smell. Oh wait the yeasty smell is a little different but is definitely yeasty. The capacity to mop a wet gooey chutney is just like a fluffy bread .

Only healthier.

A fermented batter with some rice or other gluten free flours and a nourishing lentil, this bread is not all carbs, a good amount of protein is there. The fermented batter helps the digestive enzymes and the gut flora to work better.

If served with a vegetable, lentil of nuts based chutney, this South Indian bread could be an ideal breakfast or a meal for someone who wants a meal involving minimal cooking.

Yes, if you have the batter ready, which keeps well in the fridge for about a week, you can steam a fresh n warm bread ( Idli that is) within 5 minutes and the chutney takes another 10 minutes maximum. I often use the sourdough method in making my idlies too. The leftover batter is used as a starter and some more lentil powder and millet flours or rice semolina (coarse rice powder) is added and is allowed to ferment.

Steamed fresh whenever required.


Do you think this Idli is not a regular shape? 


This makes it easier. One serving is steamed in a porridge bowl and the chutney is served on top of it. Isn't it so convenient. Less utensils used and you eat hot Idlies right after steaming them. Mine is steamed in Microwave and it's a 3 minute affair for single serving.




It's a luxury if you can make two chutneys with it. I will post the recipes of the chutneys too in this post, steaming the Idli is more interesting for now.

So the Idli batter should be a non recipe for Indians but for those who are making it for the first time, I am giving the instructions to make the basic rice n lentil batter. 
  • Skinned black lentil and brown rice is soaked separately in water overnight. I use equal quantities of both but normally a a ratio of 2 parts lentil and 3 parts rice is used or even more rice. More lentil to rice ensures lesser carbs in this idli. The soaked lentil is made into a smooth paste in whatever grinding machine you have. The rice is blended to a coarser paste, some semolina sized grains should be there in the paste, no bigger than that. Both the pastes are mixed together with salt to taste and are allowed to ferment naturally for 12-24 hours, depending on room temperature.
  • Some times, I add a little yeast to this batter and find great results. Some other times I use a leftover batter as a starter for the next batch and that works really well too. Something like sourdough Idli.
  • I also use rice and black lentil powders to make the Idli batter. A rice rawa or rice semolina(coarse rice powder) is available in South Indian markets and I get it whenever I visit those places. Rice rawa works better for a grainier texture of steamed Idli. Both the powders are mixed with water n salt to taste and are allowed to ferment naturally, with yeast or with a starter. 
  • For Millet or multi grain Idlies I mix the lentil flour with equal amount of either Ragi flour or Bajra or jowar flours, or a mix of all these flours and ferment the batter as above.
Here is a picture of Ragi Idli for you.


Nice fluffy, soft and warm. What else a comforting bread would be. A gluten free bread at that. Serve it with your choice of chutney or even butter or eggs if you feel like.
  • The fermented batter is ladled into a ceramic bowl , preferably a porridge serving bowl so it makes one serving only. The single serving of this batter is Microwaved for 3 minutes, covered with a suitable lid. 
If you steam a bigger Idli than this in the MW, it gets dry on the margins and stays uncooked in the middle so it's better to cook them individually.
  • Check with a pointed knife in the center of the Idli, like you check cakes, if the knife comes out clean the Idli is ready. 
With my green coconut-spinach chutney and a bright red tomato-garlic chutney, this ragi Idli becomes a three minute breakfast if the chutneys are refrigerated for the week...oh.am I repeating this three minutes thingy too often?

Pardon me. I just want you to have a taste of a quick procedure.


The chutneys are next. I am sharing three wonderful chutneys today. All of them are healthy, very very flavorful and help you eat your one generous portion of vegetables in the beginning of the day.

Tomato garlic chutney...

This chutney I fell in love with when I was in Chennai last year. It was served daily in the breakfast buffet and I used to mop away almost the whole serving bowl. There is a rich taste of Sesame oil and the garlic accentuates the red juicy tomatoes well.

ingredients...
Tomatoes cubed in large chunks 500 gms (Use the best heirloom tomatoes you get)
Garlic peeled and chopped roughly 2 tbsp
Red chilly powder 2 tsp or more to taste
salt to taste
Sesame oil 2-3 tbsp

procedure...
  • Heat sesame oil in a pan and tip in the chopped garlic. Let it fry till aromatic but not brown. 
  • Add the red chilly powder and mix , then immediately tip in the chopped tomatoes and salt. 
  • Mix well and cook covered for 5 minutes on high flame.
  • Thrash the tomatoes when they start getting mushy. Keep stirring and cook without lid for another 5 minutes.
  • The finished chutney is thick and a nice sesame oil n garlic aroma is evident.

Coconut and spinach chutney..

This chutney is an experimental chutney, a nice change from the usual coriander greens and mint flavors in the coconut chutney. I used my garden greens so the chutney is really flavorful. use the freshest greens you can find for this.

ingredients...
chopped bits of fresh coconut 1 cup
baby spinach 400 gm (I used fresh baby spinach)
curry patta about 6 springs
2 garlic cloves
green chillies to taste
salt to taste
lime juice to taste
I used a salt preserved raw mango slices for this chutney and skipped salt, you can use fresh raw mango slivers to taste.

procedure...
  • Steam the baby spinach till the leaves wilt, I microwaved them for 2 minutes.
  • Grind with all the other ingredients till smooth. 
  • Serve as desired.

I like my coconut chutneys a bit coarse so here is how it looks like...

A breakfast with bright colors could be a nice start of the day for you. I am all for this.



spring onion and fenugreek chutney...

This a spring onion and coconut-sesame chutney basically , accentuated with some fenugreek seeds. Keep the fenugreek seeds minimal if you do not like the bitterness they have. I used a dry chutney powder I make and have posted in the past to make it fortified with some greens.

ingredients...
spring onions chopped 2 cups(lower parts only)
fenugreek seeds 1 tsp ( optional, or use less)
broken dry red chillies 2
curry patta 2 springs
sesame oil 2 tbsp
sesame,peanut chutney powder 3-4 tbsp
salt to taste

procedure...


  • Heat the oil and tip in the fenugreek seeds and broken red chillies. Let them get pink and aromatic. Taking care not to char them.
  • Tip in the curry patta and chopped spring onions and saute till they get a bit softer.
  • Blend then to a paste with a little water and the sesame-peanut chutney powder.

Serve immediately with Idli or with anything else you like. It makes a nice side dish anyways. The ready chutney powder is a very convenient add on to fresh ingredients while making chutneys...


The fenugreek seeds taste best when blended freshly in this chutney, the more the chutney rests the more they get butter when they soak up the juices. If you love the bitterness, you can let the chutney stand for some time. Otherwise the roasted earthy flavor of the fenugreek is all you get in the freshly blended concoction.




Served with Ragi Idli for myself one morning. It can be any meal of the day for me.

Is your bread this tasty?


The purists might be cringing at the thought of making the Idlis so convenient with yeast or a sourdough starter , and with millet flours. It works for me as I go for the soft textures and the yeasty aroma.

Not forgetting healthy ingredients made accessible and workable.

I never understood how the stone ground batter would result in better Idlies, simply because I never got the chance to try them :-) The batter made with powders works well for me as I want my Idlies on a whim sometimes and a two day long preparation time is just too long for me.

What about you?

Quicker practical solutions for everyday meals or the occasional treats of the traditional methods?

And do you think Idlis are breads essentially?

30 comments:

  1. nice chutney varieties wid idli...idli is staple at my place...

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    1. Thank you Prathibha. Do you think idli is a bread?

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  2. yuummmmmmmmmm is the word :)

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  3. Loved the variations! And the way you use a pudding bowl to steam the idlis! Makes so much sense! Esp if we are making for one or two people! I will try this for sure the next time I make the batter!

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  4. And yes, idli could be a bread. After all - it does fit in the definition, no?

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    1. Always for me. I love it with eggs too :-)

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  5. looks yum with nice pictures

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  6. I too love idlis but have never made them with powders or steamed them in the microwave. I have however added Ragi flour to the batter, even to dose batter. I am going to try your version soon. I like the idea of adding a starter or leftover batter. It will come in handy for me, especially in the winter months when it is not easy to ferment. :-)

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    1. I often use starter for fermenting idli batter Jaya. It's a big convenience during winters.Glad you liked it.

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  7. wow :) thats what you call innovation single serve idlis are awesome :) and your bowls are pretty too...

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    1. Thank Sugar! Glad you liked them. The bowls are all the more great because they can be stacked on top of each other to keep them inside the fridge too.

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  8. Oh yes Idli is surely a bread,very healthy n easy..U have made it more healthier and nutritious...

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  9. Great recipes, Sangeeta!! Chutneys are awesome.... I will try some of your recipes in coming days :-)

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    1. Thanks Giribala...Please let me know how you liked what you try :-)

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  10. LOVE idlis!! I miss eating it for breakfast with a side of hot coffee or masala tea :)

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  11. the idea of fermenting idlis with the leftover batter is novel and innovative. i will try doing this. i usually make idlis the regular way and end up finishing all the batter.

    also the idea of making the idli for one serving is great. its good if there are few people to serve.

    and i am actually drooling over the chutneys. great chutney recipes. i love idlis at anytime of the day be with sambar or chutneys.

    in goa we ferment with idlis called as sannas with palm todi or yeast. they do have the yeasty aroma and but are so soft and just soak up the gravies... usually served with a pork or chicken goan dish.

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    1. I would love to try the Sannas of Goa sometime with that Goan chicken dish. Sounds yummy.

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  12. Foxtail millet idly and dehusked sanwa millet dosa, sangeeta, shall i send some, a pinch of eno added before steaming ensures more softer idlies with millets , i als made a tadka of mustard and jeera and crushed some fresh corriender into it to make it tastier

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    1. Great that you shared it here Nirupama....many readers will be benefited by these innovative ideas.
      Thanks.

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  13. Sangeeta - for someone who hates to cook - I really wasn't a regular on your blog. But the info that you provide and the easy no hassle recipes now have me hooked - am going to try the tomato chutney today :)

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    1. Thank you Ruchira. Good to know that you find it useful.Let me know if you try something :-)

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  14. wow such an assortment of chutneys. I am going to try every single one of them and make sure that my family eats it too.

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  15. Great great idea. This is going to be lunch for me very soon. That tomato garlic chutney is screaming my name. I want baby spinach. We love idlis for lunch. This makes life so much more interesting!

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    1. That tomato and garlic chutney has made many friends Deeba. I am sure you would love it too.

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  16. I like the tomato chutney the best. Will surely try it. Do you have that ginger gur chilly chutney recipe that they serve with idlis in Andhra? It is yummy.

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    Replies
    1. You are talking about the Inji puli probably Rachna. Yet to try that.

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