Anyway, the one time that we did eat idlis at Murugan Idli Kadai, I happened to ask for the recipe. It was cheeky, but I did it anyway. As many pointed out later, this recipe is also posted on their website.
Here’s how that story went. We were eating away to glory wondering whether we should ask someone for yet another refill of chutney when the chef came out for something, smiled at us and said “chutney venuma?” (would you like some chutney?). I said “vendaam” and after a pause “idli romba super aa irukku, idhukku entha proportion-le arisi uluthamparuppu arappeenge”. (No thank you. Btw, your idlis are superb, what proportion of rice to urad dal do you use for the batter).
Now I don’t need to tell you that this question is quite cheeky. It’s almost like going into KFC and asking what goes into their fried chicken crust. But surprisingly, the cook didn’t even hesitate before saying “veettule pannaa namma arisi jaasthi poduvom. naange inge pannumbothu ulutham paruppu konjam jaasthiya poduvom, athuthaan ungalakku nalla soft idli tharum. 2 glass arisi edutheenganna oru glass ulutham paruppu podunga. appadiye, oru chinna spoon menthayam, apram oru pidi soru. correct aa varum“*
This was the first time I was hearing about adding cooked rice to the idli batter but who was I to argue with the cook at Murugan Idli Kadai. I nodded happily, came home, and forgot all about it.
Eventually, my memory did kick start again and I tried idli as per his recommended recipe. It was strictly average. Then I tried again and the second time, it came out brilliantly.
Murugan Idli Kadai Idli Recipe
Preparation time: 3 hours
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes ~ 20 idlis
Ingredients for the Idli Batter:
2 cups of par-boiled ponni rice
1 cup of whole, husked urad dal / ulutham paruppu / uzhunnu parippu
1/4 tsp of fenugreek seeds / menthayam / uluva
A handful of cooked rice
Salt to taste
How to Make Idlis:
1. Soak the rice and dal separately, the dal for about an hour and the rice for about 4 hours. Add the fenugreek seeds to the urad dal while soaking.
2. Grind the urad dal first, with just enough water to grind it to a smooth paste. Once done, remove and set aside.
3. Next, grind the soaked rice. When its almost done but still grainy, add the cooked rice and salt. Grind until smooth and add to the already ground urad dal.
4. Fold together until well combined. Leave in a warm place undisturbed for atleast 8 hours or overnight. Leave enough room in the vessel for the batter to ferment and rise.
5. Once fermented and risen, mix well to let all the air bubbles to escape and the batter to come together well. Don’t overbeat, and if its too thick, add a little water. For idlis, the batter should be slightly thick but of pouring consistency.
6. Pour into oiled indli moulds and steam for not more than 12 minutes. Overcooking idlis can result in very hard idlies and a dry crust on top. Its better to undercook them even, but make sure you don’t overcook idlis.
Serve hot with chutney and sambar.
Makes about 20 idlis
– the urad dal : rice proportion is always debatable. Although this recipe seems like the equation is very skewed, the idlies came out super well for me. If the quality of your urad dal is very good, you can get away with adding more rice.
– I made dosa with this batter the next day and they turned out ok but I would prefer more rice in my dosa batter. This works better for idlis.
– Make extra idlis, store in the refrigerator and microwave with some sprinkled water on top. Serve immediately.
* the translation for that roughly is: when we make idlis at home, we tend to add more rice. Here, we add more urad dal. The proportion is 1:2 and I also add a small spoon of fenugreek seeds and a handful of cooked rice. Try this, it will come out well.