Let me start off this post with a disclaimer: I have nothing against rice. In fact, I like rice in all shapes and form although I rarely eat it. In my quest for a healthy and nutritious diet, I try to replace rice with other grains wherever possible.
today’s recipe is a tale of two idlis which met by chance in one cooking session
Having successfully made rice-free jowar (sorghum) idlis in the past, for this recipe, I thought of experimenting with two other types of millet grains: pearl (bajra) and finger (ragi).
a successful experiment which demonstrates that it is possible to make idlis without rice
Another fortuitous discovery I made while making these is masala idli.
While the first round of idlis were merrily steaming away, I suddenly remembered that I had some shelled peas and mixed sprouts lying around in the refrigerator. I thought of adding these along with some freshly grated turmeric and green chilli-ginger paste to the second round of idlis.
Both types taste equally good. They are soft like conventional idlis although not as fluffy (absence of rice I imagine).
The following makes 24 regular size idlis.
Ingredients for Plain Idli Batter
1 Cup bajra (pearl millet)
1 Cup ragi (finger millet)
1 Cup white urad dal (white gram/white lentil)
2 Tablespoons methi seeds (fenugreek)
Salt to taste
Ghee for greasing idli moulds
Ingredients for Masala Idli Batter (Optional)*
2 – 3 Tablespoons shelled peas
2 – 3 tablespoons mixed sprouts
1 Teaspoon turmeric
1 Teaspoon green chilli-ginger paste
- Wash the bajra, ragi, urad dal and methi seeds.
- Add water and soak for 8 to 10 hours.
- Grind in a food processor. The end result should be a batter which is neither too thick nor too thin. Some of the ragi grains may remain whole, this is perfectly okay.
- Cover and place the batter in a warm, dark place to ferment. This can take anything from a few hours to 34 hours depending on the temperature (see note below).
- When you are ready to cook the idlis, add some salt to the batter and mix well. If you are making masala idli, you can add the optional ingredients at this stage.
- Grease idli moulds and pour the batter in them.
- Put in a steamer and let the idlis steam for 40 minutes.
- Remove from the steamer and leave for a few minutes.
- Run a knife under each idli to remove it from its mould.
- Serve with chutney of your choice.
- In warm weather, the batter can ferment in a matter of 4 to 6 hours. If the temperatures are low, the fermentation process takes much longer.
- For masala idli, you can add any vegetable of your choice. Grated carrots, grated cabbage and grated bottlegourd would work equally well.
- I had fresh turmeric root which I grated and used which is why the colour of my masala idlis is so bright! You can use turmeric powder instead.
Here are the two friends side by side – plain and masala.