Thursday, April 30, 2015

Millet(s) Idli

Millets are getting their much deserved attention - at last. Everybody is talking about them. Honestly, we have been using millets for a long time now, and I personally find a significant difference in energy levels, resistance and general well-being. Anyway, I realised that idlis and dosas are a great way to sneak these super grains into our diet - especially in a form acceptable to kids.

Basically, you make the batter much the same way as for normal idlis but use the following proportions:

1 cup urad (ulundu/ black gram)
4 cups millets (any of them - pearl millet, little millet, kodo millet, foxtail millets, or a mix of these)
1/4 cup poha (aval/ beaten rice flakes)
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds

1. Clean all the ingredients separately. Soak the urad and fenugreek together in a vessel. Soak the millets and poha together in another. Let them soak for at least four hours.

2. Drain the urad and retain the water for grinding.

3. Grind the urad adding water little by little till it is soft and fluffy. (Use the soaking water.) To check if the urad batter is done, drop a blob in a cup of water. If it floats up, the batter is ready.

4. Grind the millets and poha adding water slowly. You will find that this does not take as much water as rice would, when making traditional rice-based batter. So, be careful when adding water. Add little at a time.

5.  Mix the two batters well, adding a little salt too.

6. Allow to ferment till the batter rises well.

You will see that millet-based batters rise faster than the traditional batter. Mine usually rises within four hours. Use it as soon as it is done rising, or stow it into the fridge. Don't let it sit outside for too long, as it might get sour. Perhaps because millets are less processed than rice, and are therefore richer in nutrients and enzymes, the fermentation activity is very fast in them. If the batter gets sour, your idlis won't turn out well, but your dosas will be crispy and great. But, if you use the batter at just the right time, you will end up with amazing idlis that are even softer than the traditional ones. Don't mind the colour though - they won't be as white as traditional idlis.

Let me tell you another traditional trade secret, which most people don't follow these days when making idlis. Whether you make traditional batter or a millet-based one, never mix the fermented batter. Keep using the fluffy portions from the top to make idlis. And once you reach a layer of water, mix well and use the remaining batter to make dosas, uttapams or appam. The idlis made with the light and fluffy top batter will be super-duper soft! Try it to believe it.

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