Idli makes it batter

Updated: 14 October, 2020 11:38 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

Twitter has been abuzz ever since a British professor called the rice and lentil cakes boring. But are they? Two chefs share some cool versions to jazz up the South Indian staple

After the Kerala parotta and dosa, the breakfast staple idli is now the talk of Twitterverse. It all started with British professor Edward Anderson tweeting, "Idlis are the most boring things in the world." The tweet invited the wrath of Indians, especially those from the south. Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor even suggested that Anderson — who claimed his students are currently reading the Congress leader's book, Inglorious Empire — try discussing the title, with "a plate of steaming idlis, accompanied by coconut chutney with a garnish of mustard seeds, a red-chilli-and-onion samandi & some molagapodi w/melted ghee." With netizens advising Anderson on how best to enjoy the fluffy rice and lentil cakes, two South Indian chefs share cool twists to the dish.

Idli upma

Idli upma

Chef Hema Mani, who runs Mani's Home Kitchen in Kandivali, tells us that idli is one of the most nutritious ways to start your day. "It's traditionally made of rice and urad dal, and is hence rich in proteins. When you add sambar to it, it becomes healthier. From pasta to upma, idlis are easy to make and can be consumed in so many ways," she shares.

3 cups rice (soaked for eight hours)
1 cup urad dal (soaked for an hour)
To season:
Mustard seeds
Urad dal
Chana dal
Onions (optional)
Sambar/curry powder
Turmeric powder
Curry leaves

Chef Hema Mani

After soaking the rice and urad dal separately, grind them. Mix the two batters, add salt to taste and let it ferment overnight. Pour the batter in an idli stand and steam it for 10 to 12 minutes. To check if it's done, insert a toothpick into one of the idlis; it should come out clean. Once it cools down slightly, cut the idlis into small bite-sized portions. In a pan, heat any kind of oil, and add a sprinkling of mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal, hing and a chopped onion. Once they start crackling, tip in the chopped idlis. Sprinkle salt, turmeric powder, sambar/curry powder and curry leaves, and cook for three minutes till slightly crispy.

Sambar shot

Sambar shot

Idli is a dish that keeps getting better as you play around with condiments, believes Sankar Kasirajan, owner of Café IDlish in Goregaon, which serves an array of idli fusions including a peri-peri version, a wok-tossed avatar with vegetables and idli-dahi chaat. "Idlis are neutral, and perfect carriers of taste. They can easily be paired with sambar, chutneys, curries or kurma for a traditional lover, as well as with sauces, spice mixes and veggies to make them more exciting," he adds.

3 to 4 steamed mini idlis
1 shot glass of Madras sambar Chopped shallots (optional)
Kara podi spice mix
1 tsp Coconut chutney
Chopped coriander
Nylon sev or kara boondi

Sankar Kasirajan

Pour fresh coconut chutney in a shot glass and add the mini idlis to it. Throw in the chopped shallots, and tip in enough sambar to drown the idlis. Sprinkle some kara podi spice mix and garnish with nylon sev or kara boondi. Top it off with chopped coriander and some more kara podi for the extra zing.

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First Published: 14 October, 2020 09:48 IST

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