Super Easy Idli Batter for Soft, Spongy Idlis

Super Easy Idli Batter for Soft, Spongy Idlis
A few months after I lost Amma, a food aggregator signed me up for providing home cooked food to customers through a website. All the customers welcomed my food and I consistently received top rating. It will always be a deep sense of sadness that I would realize that my mother never saw the day when I was cooking commercially and getting applauded for it. Surely, I owe it all to her.

Discovering the Ideal Idli Batter

But there was one trick, I never learnt from Amma – or should I say, I never thought I could  – and that is making the Idli Batter. Amma though, had always used the grinding stone to grind the idli batter and was always spot on with her idlis. Coming back to making the Idli batter,  I have had so many tales – most of them quite intimidating – of how idli batter can go horribly wrong – flat idlis, hard idlis, smelly idlis, yellow tinged idlis and so on. And the theories about making the correct idli batter are many – add sago, add fenugreek seeds, add ice cubes while grinding, add a pinch of salt, don’t add too much water, and so the list goes on. Truth be told, some of these work to some extent. But let me come back to my experiments with Idli batter. When I started serving the Food Aggregator, I had a wonderful help at home – Kasturi who used to make the batter, and that came out reasonably soft.  So while she made the batter, I took the credit for the soft idlis.
Great batter results in fluffy, spongy Idlis

Going commercial with the Idli batter

Later when I started “The Chennai Kitchen”, my own label that provided South Indian breakfast to customers in the society I live in, I know I had to make the batter myself. And so what began as an experiment, became a trademark Idli Batter that I started selling to customers. Fortunately, my brand of batter not only came out great – but I developed my own template for it, so that the quality of the batter I make is consistent, and predictable. The idlis are soft, fluffy everytime.

Tip # 1: Add Enough Water

So, what is the secret of the ideal Idli Batter? Well, the first and most important secret, according to me, is water. Most people while grinding idli batter, are hesitant to add enough water.  To me, moisture is what makes idlis soft, and lack of moisture – just the opposite, makes them hard. Please note that I use a tabletop wet grinder for grinding the batter. For smaller quantities you can use a Mixie or Blender as well

Tip #2:  Grind well at the start

The second important point is to let the batter grind properly right at the start. This mistake happens when people add a lot of water right at the beginning, after the rice and dal are added. I let the mixture grind for good ten minutes in half a glass of water so that the grinding is complete. And then I keep adding water at regular, timed intervals. The thumb rule I use is: when you transfer the batter from the grinder to a vessel for fermentation, the batter should be in pouring consistency. Once you let it ferment overnight, you will notice that the batter has thickened after fermentation.  And there, you have the ideal batter. This is my version, and it has unfailingly given me great soft, spongy idlis. And yes, I don’t add sago, fenugreek seeds, ice cubes or salt during grinding.

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