Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pumpkin Idli - satisfy your cravings for idli with this quick, flavorful version

As is generally generalized, all South Indians are supposed to eat idli and dosa for breakfast. Although I am born in and grew up most of my early life in the South, idli & dosa were not an every day breakfast. There are so many other varieties that we South Indians eat which is only being made known to the rest of the world through cook books, shows and other media. Even when you talk about idlis, there are so many variations that you will not even think you were eating the same breakfast everyday except that the name has 'idli' in it. I love idlis for their versatility and the healthy way in which they are cooked. Traditional idli takes soaking, grinding and fermenting while there are other varieties that do not tie you down in the kitchen for long hours, check out my version of the famous Rava idli here if you are looking for another quick idli recipe.

The recipe for pumpkin idli is from my BIL who as I keep mentioning from time to time is a Nala Maharaja (Indian mythology has stories about this wonderful king who was also a gourmet chef except BIL is not a King :-)) of the modern times with equal proportions of interest to cook and flair to experiment. I am not sure if this is one of his original recipes or take on a traditional recipe. I sure did eat it at Akka's house for the first time and I know for a fact nammamma didn't make this before she learnt it from the son-in-law.

The idli itself doesn't have any dals, doesn't need to be soaked, ground or fermented. The flavor of fresh, juicy pumpkins mixed with freshly pounded black pepper and cumin is what makes it a favorite. As autumn here brings loads of pumpkins, this is the first recipe I go back to every season. I have made it with butternut squash, kaddoo(Indian sweet pumpkin) and regular grocery store pumpkin, sometimes mixing 2 or all of them just for a change. They all taste really yummy.

I made this yesterday for brunch and when I was talking to akka this morning, she asked if I made 'lemon gojju' with it. Just like most other people, we as a family have some favorite combinations which are so ingrained and rarely do we change those :-). Lemon gojju is one of nammamma's much adored side dishes for idlis (or in my case, just to lick spoonfuls with or without idlis)and I will post it some other time. I made regular coconut chutney yesterday but you can skip all accompaniments and eat this hot idli with a dash of tuppa (Ghee or clarified butter) as it is full of flavor already.
What do you need to make Pumpkin idlis? 
Makes about 15 idlis
4 packed cups grated pumpkin(use red pumpkins or butternut squashes)
2 cups idli rava
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 Tsp black pepper
1 Tblsp cumin
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup grated coconut
Baking soda (see notes on the usage)
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp oil to smear idli plates
How do you make Pumpkin idlis? 
  • Wash, pat dry and peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and a thin layer of the inner core, discard.
  • Grate (on the big hole side of the grater) the pumpkin slices.
  • Pound the black pepper & cumin in a mortar & pestle taking care not to powder them.
  • Finely chop onions and cilantro.
  • In a wide bowl, mix together grated pumpkin, grated coconut, chopped onions, cilantro, salt, pepper & cumin and set aside for 5 minutes until the pumpkin & onion juices start to come out. 
  • Add the idli rava to the mixture and mix it with hand. This is a 'just wet' mixture that will hold shape when you make a ball with it. Note that it is not a flowy batter.
  • Prepare your idli plates with a few drops of oil, make Tennis ball sized rounds with the batter and pat them flat on the idli moulds.
  • Steam (like regular idlis) for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when pushed into the idli, keep the stove on medium heat. It takes a tiny bit longer than the regular idli as the pumpkin cooks during steaming. 
  • Switch off, let the steam stop, take out the idli plates and let it cool for a good 5 minutes before taking them off. 
  • Idli rava to grated pumpkin ration is 1:2, you can scale this recipe up or down based on the number of recipients and adjusting the spices to your taste.
  • Use firm, juicy pumpkins with lot of meat in them. 
  • Don't use stored black pepper powder in this recipe, the flavor and aroma of the freshly pounded pepper & cumin is unmatched.
  • If you do not have a mortar & pestle, use your rolling pin to crush the pepper & cumin.
  • I prefer not using baking soda as grated coconut makes these idlis light & fluffy. If you do not use coconut on a regular basis or skip it as a personal preference, then add 1/4 Tsp baking soda instead for the above mentioned quantities.
  • If your pumpkin is not very juicy and the mixture seems dry, add 1-2 Tblsp of fresh yogurt or plain water to get the right consistency.
Idli making tips for Beginners:
  • Use idli plates in a regular cooker or idli vessel that is made specially to steam idlis. 
  • If using cooker, do not use the weight (which builds the pressure and makes idlis rock solid), use a small cup to just cover the steam from hitting the roof taking care not to cover the safety valve on the pressure cooker lid. 
  • Keeping atleast an inch of water at the bottom of the vessel is important to steam idlis without burning the vessel and ultimately the idlis.
  • If you do not have the idli stand and plates, you can still put this batter into a vessel/plate that fits snugly in the cooker. Keep the thickness of the uncooked batter/dough at about 1/2 inch so it cooks through well.


prathibha Garre said...

I tried a similar idli with cucumber,the taste was ok but never tempted me to try it again..will give a try wid pumpkin too sometime

LG said...

I have read about pumpkin idli before also but never mustered up the courage to make it. Looks like it is time to give a try after I have seen it here :)

Vijayalakshmi Dharmaraj said...

ohw... never tried with pumpkin its very new to me...

NamsVeni Pothas said...

this is really very tempting dish. idli is a wonderfull breakfast that too with pumpkin....healthy one.

Premalatha Aravindhan said...

Looks great and healthy too...

Vani said...

Looks good, N. You have to post that lemon gojju soon - it sounds yum!

Priya said...

Brillant idea Nagashree, idli with pumpkin cant ask more.

Julie said...

innovative one,Nagshree..delicious n healthy!!
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Nagashree said...

Thank you all ladies for stopping by and your comments.
Prathibha - I make the cucumber idli also, the lemon cucumbers or dosakayi have better flavor than regular cucumbers.

LG - let me know how you like the pumpking idli once you make it.

Vani - I will get to the lemon gojju very soon, need to get some juicy lemons.

Priya - as I said it is my BIL's recipe, will pass on the complements. Do try and let me know how you liked it.

Hima bindu said...

wow..never tried idli with pumpkin.. this is quite new..n it looks good :)


Hamaree Rasoi said...

Never heard of such variety of idly !! thanks to your BIL ..for such healthy twist

Kitchen Queen said...

healthy and very tempting one.

Kannada Cuisine said...

Super-duper Nagashree.. I need to bookmark this recipe. Love to sneak in some veggies in our regular meal, my Sunny boy would not eat them otherwise :(

Jay said...

looks yummm n perfect..;)
Tasty Appetite