Serendipity is when all paths lead to the same dish. In this case, serendipity is all about iddlies. Soft and fluffy steamed rice and lentil cakes. This month’s recipe redux theme is about picking a book and getting to a page number that is some combination of 2017. My book is the Udupi Kitchen and a basic recipe for idlies. A classic relatively light steamed rice and lentil cake that is a popular breakfast item on Indian tables. Idlies are served with fresh coconut chutney and or a light lentils stew called sambhar.
Idlies are made with a naturally fermented sourdough batter, that can be also used for dosas and uthapams. In short, a very versatile and useful batter. The basic challenge with making them is getting the batter to ferment properly in these cold winter months. A challenge that you can happily overcome with your instant pot!
The yogurt button on your instant pot gets you perfectly fermented batter in 8 hours. In short, if you set this before you sleep you are guaranteed perfect sweet smelling idly batter for your weekend breakfast. And, yes you can steam them in your instant pot as well.
You will need a little bit of planning for making idlies, as you do need to soak your grains before you grind them. But, it really is a systematic routine for me. I usually measure out about 2 cups of idli rice and 3/4 cup of urad dal (white lentils) and soak these separately the night before. The next evening I grind and set the batter out for fermenting. I have been using the yogurt for the instant pot a lot lately for fermenting and even sprouting legumes (more on that soon). In general, I have invested in a second insert that I find quite useful. It also allows me to have them in the dishwater without interrupting my culinary routine. But now on to my idly.
A recipe for steamed idly using the instant pot for steaming and fermetation.
- 2 cups idli or other parboiled rice (do not use Basmati rice for this)
- 3/4 cup urad dal (white lentils)
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Water for soaking
- Oil for greasing the moulds
- Soak the rice and the lentils for at least six hours with about 2 cups of water each. Add the fenugreek seeds and the salt with the rice.
- In either a stone grinder or the blender, first blend the lentils with very little water until light and fluffy.
- Remove and set in a large container or in the steel insert of the instant pot.
- Add the rice mixture and blend until smooth with just a hint of texture. Mix with the lentil mixture. You can use your hands to mix, the bacteria from your hands actually assists with the fermentation.
- Place the mixture in a warm place or in your instant pot. If using the instant pot, set the instant pot to the yogurt setting. Let it ferment for 8 hours. Open the lid to be greeted with well fermented batter.
- Grease the idli moulds and pour the batter into the moulds until about 3/4 filled.
- Place an empty pot in your instant pot and fill with about 1 and 1/2 cup of water. Place the idli stand in the instant pot.
- Steam for about 7 minutes and let the pressure release naturally.
- Remove and serve hot with your favorite chutney.