Friday, May 17, 2013

Kancheepuram Idli

My husband calls our friend, Vimala, the Tendulkar of cooking.  For those who don’t know him,  Tendulkar is considered one of the greatest batsman in the history of cricket, second only to Sir Donald Bradman.  He calls me Mongia – a mere blip in the world of cricket.  I am not a big cricket fan, but even I know the difference between Tendulkar and Mongia.

It is a wonder that I cook anything at all for him.

Vimala makes everything from scratch.  She is an amazing cook and is always willing to share her recipes.  She made kancheepuram idlis for a potluck.  They were unlike any other idli that I had tasted.  She served it with a garlic kuzhambu.  Here is her recipe for the idlis.

Kancheepuram Idli

What you need:

  • 1 cup split urad dal, with husk
  • 1 cup idli rice
  • 1 cup raw rice (I used sona masoori rice)
  • salt to taste
  • about 1/3 cup yogurt
  • curry leaves, chopped
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • pinch eno fruit salt or baking soda


 To make the batter: 

  1. Soak the urad dal and the rice (you can mix the two types together) separately for 4 – 6 hours.
  2. Start grinding the urad dal with little bit of water
  3. After about 5 minutes or so, when the dal is still coarse, remove half of it from the grinder and put it in a big bowl.
  4. Grind the rest of the dal to a smooth paste
  5. Remove this and add it to dal in the bowl.
  6. Now, grind the rice adding a little bit of water, till the batter is no longer coarse.  Add this to the dal batter.
  7. Add salt and yogurt and mix well using your hand (my mom says that the heat from your hand helps kick start the fermenting process)
  8. Let the batter ferment overnight.
Kancheepuram Idlis


To make the idlis:

  1. When you are ready to make idlis, heat the oil is a small saucepan, add crushed peppercorns, cumin seeds, and curry leaves.
  2. When the cumin seeds change color, turn off the heat and add this to the batter.
  3. Add the minced ginger.
  4. Mix well
  5. Take a little bit of the batter (enough to make one batch of idlis) in a bowl.  Add a pinch of eno fruit salt, mix well.
  6. Pour batter into greased molds and steam for about 20 minutes.
  7. Repeat for remaining batter.
  8. Serve hot with garlic or vatha kuzhambu.

Vimala says that traditionally, these idlis were made in stainless steel tumblers (drinking cups).  I used small stainless steel bowls.

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