Friday, August 31, 2012

Mysore Mallige idlis - soft & fluffy breakfast essentials

Now, nobody needs an introduction to the joy of this very South Indian breakfast breakfast right? I googled the word 'Idli' for fun and came up with hundreds of hits, there are blogs that talk about the idli recipes (many variations and complications on the basic recipe included as well) out there, so why do I need to write about it here again? Just for the very simple reason that it will be available as a reference to me or anyone that desires it readily. But then since you are being patient with me and humoring me by reading this extremely common recipe, I will give some tips at the end that makes some really soft and white colored idlis which are great to look at and delicious to devour on.

When I started cooking on my own, Idlis and chapatis were the two disasters in my kitchen. Idlis hardly turned anything but hard with an achingly dull muddy color especially in the cold winters and I had stopped making Idlis altogether. But then it always poked my pride since nammamma makes some of the fluffiest idlis ever known and never once gave the excuse of the outside temperature. So some theory (phone sessions with amma), some internship (watching her make idlis) and some practicals(making it on my own) have brought me to where I am and I can confidently say I make good idlis no matter what the thermometer reads.

Broadly, there are two ways of idli making, one generally made in the kitchens of Tamil Nadu and Kerala where rice is soaked and ground, these idlis have a bouncy texture. The other is made in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh by mixing pre-made rice rava into ground urad dal. This has a grainy texture. I love idlis both ways and if I have the time to grind rice for another 30 minutes, I take that route or go the rice rava way. You get pretty decent rice rava in all Indian grocery stores now and I don't have to soak, dry and powder them in the kitchen like my mom did. I usually bring either Laxmi or Deep brand of rice rava which works fine.

Oh, I haven't explained the 'Mallige(Jasmine)' part in the title, right? Mysore is famous for the Navaratri or Dasara celebrations and the huge procession on the day of Vijaya Dashami. As part of the celebrations, Mysore also hosts a Dasara exhibition which has all kinds of stalls from clothes to toys to soaps in addition to the cultural programs every evening for about 3 months. The exhibition attracts vendors from all parts of India and there are specialty places displaying and selling goods. It used to be the favorite hang out place as kids when cousins were visiting. From a pig tailed girl hopping with my older sister & cousins to a teenager visiting stalls with friends to a newly wed roaming with her husband to a new mommy carrying her infant, I have been to this exhibition at various stages in life.

What is a hang out without food, right? The Dasara exhibition was (I haven't been to one in 12 or so years) also known for the numerous eateries, these were all temporary stalls and mostly fast foods from and one of them advertised their Idlis as 'Mallige Idlis' and a small kid would call out to all people in a high pitched voice 'Bisi bisi idli, mallige idli, Mysore mallige idli (Hot, hot jasmine idlis)', it was the first time I heard mallige used in the context of Idlis and it has stuck with me. Mallige is the Mysore jasmine known for its delicate white blooms and the pleasant smell. Since nammamma's idlis were always soft and white, we started calling it 'Mallige idlis' at home too. So here is how I make the Mallige idlis.
What do you need to make Mallige Idlis? 
1 cup urad dal
2.5 cups idli rava
1/2 Tsp fenugreek seeds
1 heaped Tblsp cooked rice
1 Tsp salt

How do you make Mallige Idlis? 
  • Soak urad dal & fenugreek seeds in 3 cups of water for 5-6 hours.
  • Wash the idli rava in 2 changes of water, drain the water and keep it aside.
  • Wash the urad dal in atleast 3 changes of water, drain the water. 
  • Grind urad dal into a very soft dough by adding spoonfuls of water at a time. 
  • Add the cooked rice towards the end of grinding cycle and continue to grind. 
  • Idli rava would have soaked up the water, squeeze handfuls to remove any extra water and add it to the ground urad dal. 
  • Mix the two together into a uniform batter, cover and keep in a warm place overnight to ferment. 
  • The batter should rise and increase in volume by the end of the fermentation period. 
  • Grease the idli plates with drops of oil, spoon the batter into the idli plates and steam it for 15 minutes. 
  • Take out the idli plates and let it stand for a minute before removing the hot steamed idlis from the plate with the help of a butter knife. 
  • Serve idlis with any combination of chutney, chutney pudi, sambar and dollop of ghee. 
  • A stone grinder (electric or manual) works best as it can take the longer grinding periods needed to make soft idlis. If you are using regular mixie, use ice cold water to prevent the motor from becoming hot.
  • The urad dal paste should become very soft and fluffy else idlis will turn out hard. 
  • Use smaller grained idli rava for a better texture, some of the brands have really thick grains. 
  • Addition of the cooked rice helps idlis to become softer and also adds to the color of the mallige idlis. 
  • During cold season, I preheat my oven on at the lowest setting, switch off and set the batter to rise in there over night. 
  • If you are using a pressure cooker to steam the idlis, remember not to put the weight and lower the heat when the steam comes out in full force and continue to cook for 15 minutes before switching off. 
For all those of you  enjoying a long weekend with Labor day Monday, have a wonderful time. This is our last weekend before school reopens on Tuesday, I will see you next week. 


NamsVeni Pothas said...

mallige(malli puvvu)Idli really very soft and melts in our mouth. idly my all time favorite.
Dasara Festival in Mysore very famous.very nice old gold memories..

Prathibha said...

This was one of m initial posts in my blog..I make mallige idlis wid idli rice with a combination of urad,cooked rice,methi,dahi n poha,they come out super soft..just love it 2 d core..

Chitra said...

I wanted to try this for long time with idly rava. bookmarked urs ..

Roshni said...

malligai poo idli indeed

Jay said...

ohhh looks incredible
Tasty Appetite

Shanthi said...

Delicious delight, Nice clicks.

LG said...

wooow..looks yummm!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
Any option if we don't want to add cooked rice, is there an alternative, can you please suggest

look forward to your suggestions

Nagashree Ravi said...

Anonymous, you can make the idli without cooked rice as well, it helps to get softer idlis. Make sure you grind the urad dal into a smooth, frothy paste and also ferment the batter well. You can add a Tbsp of yogurt while grinding to get a white color. Hope this helps, happy cooking.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip