Super Easy Idli Batter for Soft, Spongy Idlis

Super Easy Idli Batter for Soft, Spongy Idlis
Idli batter is perhaps one of the biggest challenges that one faces as a cook. It is probably easier to buy readymade batter from the market and make your idli than make the idli batter yourself. The challenges of making the ideal idli batter are many.

The questions about Idli Batter:

  1. What should you add to the batter to make it soft?
  2. How long should you soak the rice and the dal?
  3. Does adding fenugreek seeds and/or sago help in getting a better texture for the idli?
  4. How long should you ideally ferment the batter?
  5. How much water to add while grinding?
  6. Is the batter too thick after grinding? Or is it too watery?
  7. When should you add salt? Before or after fermentation?
  8. Is it alright to add soda to get fluffy idlis?
  9. Is ENO salt or any fruit salt good for getting soft idlis?
I am not sure if any other cooking gig has evoked so many questions and so many challenges. That is the challenge of making the ideal Idli batter for making the best, soft, spongy idlis. I say that this is one of the biggest challenges because I see the Internet flooded with videos that tell you “How to make the perfect Idli Batter”. And there are more being added every day.

A reluctant cook and an opportunity

Before I go on, a bit about myself. I took to cooking only about seven years ago. Before that, I was occasional cook making the odd breakfast or sabzi. Having been reared on my mother Amma’s delicious cooking all my life, all of us – her children – took it for granted that we will continue to relish her food, forever.  Well, we did for most part of our growing up life. Until a debilitating multiple fracture in her foot restricted her mobility. It was the first time my sister Gowri stepped in to the kitchen with all seriousness, filling in for my mother. With Amma handholding her in cooking, she naturally took a liking to cooking, and spent more time experimenting.

Baptism into cooking

But she was working and was not available all the time for cooking.  With my wife Vasanti, also working, the freelancer me was the obvious choice to fill in for cooking during the absence of the ladies in the house. (Nothing sexist here – they just were the better cooks!) I was a reluctant cook. Not because I didn’t want to cook, but I never thought I was any good, or would be any good. But I did begin cooking with Amma’s help. It started off rather amusingly, with Amma handing over exact measure of all the ingredients, and all I did was walk from her room to the kitchen, to add the ingredients to the cooking vessel. Of course, the dishes turned out great because it was Amma cooking, indirectly.

First success at cooking

Soon, I gathered courage and started attempting a few dishes on my own. Not at all like what I feared, the dishes came out pretty good and the person beaming at my newfound skill was Amma. In a few months, I started cooking on my own, of course with Amma to back me up at all times.

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