This South Indian carby treat is worth the 4-5 day-long planning and wait. Among my fermenting friends idli has been fondly referred to as crack. My children also love them. I hear an egg poacher or muffin tray can work well enough to make these and I, myself, debated for a while before buying another gadget, but I have to admit, it was definitely worthwhile investing in an idli steamer. It was such a big hit around here, that I made a double batch for a party and the idlis flew like rice cakes! oh, wait… they are!
1 Cup Indian lentils (I used green lentils because I was out of red)
2 Cups white basmati rice
2 teaspoon sea, kosher, or pickling salt (will work)
2 tsp baking powder
filtered water (enough to cover the rice and grains)
Wash lentils and rice well and place them in a bowl or jar. Cover them with water and soak for two days in a warm place. You can soak them together. Make sure that for every 1 cup of bean/lentil you have 2 cups of rice.
After 2 days of soaking, drain your lentils and rice (save the soaking water). Note: don’t rinse the lentils and rice. Grind them in a food processor or blender (I used my Vitamix) using the reserved soaking water. Use just enough water to make the batter smooth and soupy.
Combine the batter with salt. Don’t use iodized salt, or the batter will not ferment!
Cover and leave in a warm place to ferment for 2-4 days. I only fermented 2 days because we were so anxious to eat them. The dough will rise a fair amount when it’s ready. Add the baking powder to the fermented batter and mix – this will help make your idli fluffier and less sour.
Fill the idli tray with batter, but not quite all the way to the top. Leave room for expansion. I put the idli trays in a rice steamer (on a cook rice setting) with the tiniest amount of water so that it doesn’t get too high to the idli trays and make a mess. Put the lid on and set a timer for 20 mins. Don’t open the lid while cooking!