Idli is a favourite and healthy dish for breakfast preferred by the Indians especially South Indians. The time required for the preparation of the batter for the idli is more as the batter has to get fermented but once the batter is ready, the idlis can be prepared within 10 minutes.
I shall list the ingredients and then go to the method of preparation.
4 cups of rice, 1 cup of Black gram, 1 spoon of fenugreek. Rice has to be washed and soaked for 4 hours and black gram can be soaked for 1/2 an hour along with fenugreek. Rice has to ground in to a nice paste in a mixer and kept separately. Black gram has to be ground in to a thick and fluffy paste adding water slowly. These two have to be mixed and 1 tsp, of salt has to be added and blended well. This should be left to ferment for atleast 3-4 hours. Now the batter is ready. This can be poured in Idli moulds and steamed in a cooker for 10-12 minutes. This is a healthy breakfast and tastes good with accompaniments like chutney and sambhar which is good in protein. Being a steamed food, this is very healthy.
Idli Sandwich: This is a variation in the preparation which tastes good and would interest kids. When I needed a change during my school days, my mother tried this and this earned a great praise from my friends who tasted it. Additional ingredients: Boiled Potatoes, green chillies, garam masala powder. Mash the potatoes, add cut green chillies, a little garam masala powder and required amount of salt and mix well. Make round tikkis with this. Now after pouring one big serving spoon of Idli batter in the Idli mould, steam it till half cooked and then place a potato tikki on it and add another serving spoon of the batter to cover it. Then steam it for 10 more minutes and hot steaming idli sandwiches are ready. With every bite you will taste the delicious tikki along with the idli. Goes well with Coriander chutney and Tomato Chutney.
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Like my grand mother my mother was also a great cook. She used to be innovative often trying out lots of mouth watering recipes to please us . I love her preparations but have never had the patience to watch her or pick up her culinary skills. Some times she used to be very strict in making me help her in the kitchen saying that after all I can not continue without learning cooking.
Once before Diwali, one of the major festivals in India, she started trying some new recipes. She tried her hand with a few sweets and getting satisfied with her success, she wanted to try a slightly complicated recipe for which she needed assistance and that’s where my fate brought me in. Unfortunately, I had a holiday that day and she called me and gave strict orders to follow her instructions and not to be playful.
She wanted to make a tricolour burfi and had all the ingredients ready. That was a sweet made of milk powder and sugar. She had kept three portions of milk powder and three different food colours with three different essence. We were all set. She made a sugar syrup in a thick consistency let it cool for some time, made three portions of it and in three different pans, poured each portion adding one portion of the milk powder, a few drops of one essence and a little of each colour, mixing every thing nicely to blend. I was given one pan to be stirred continuously till I was told to stop and she was taking care of the other two pans herself and in a greased plate started pouring the mixtures one by one. Finally I poured the one in my hand and was watching it to cool before that could be cut into pieces. My mother moved away on some work when I noticed that something had gone wrong with the mixture I had poured on the top and it had started sinking into the other two mixtures. I got scared and trying to alter it I mixed up everything. It went to an irrepairable condition and I quickly made small balls out of the mixture which turned into a beautiful colour and all the three essence mixed together gave a special smell. I roasted some cashew and Badam and inserted a piece each on top of the new sweet. My mother returned and was surprised to see the new ball shaped sweets looking pretty and smelling great.
She appreciated me for turning a blunder into a new product which brought in lots of enquiries for the recipe from the friends and relative who tasted it but I refused to disclose saying it was a trade secret.
I love cooking. I spent most part of my younger days in a big family of ten persons with my grand parents, two maternal uncles and aunts, a cousin of mine, my two brothers and me.
Though we were a big group excepting my grand parents, the others were studying in schools and colleges. So, my grand mother used to take care of the kitchen independently and my grand father used to be an all rounder in helping her by procuring all the vegetables, fruits and provisions for the house and managing the children.
She has never been tired of cooking and her cooking used to be innovative, healthy, different and tasty. She had a passion for cooking and used to cook different cuisines with interest. Sitting in a remote town in South India, I never knew how she got to know so much about different cuisines.My grand father also loved helping her by getting various cookery books. Though I never realised how great an effort it must have been for her to cook for 10 people three times a day (We never ate the same food again in a day or carried forward leftovers), I certainly could appreciate her culinary skills even at that young age.
My parents were in Kolkatta in West Bengal those days and whenever they came down to visit us, they used to get various Bengali sweets like Rosogolla, sandesh,etc for which my grand mother would check up the recipes from my mother who would have come prepared with the details knowing her mother’s interest in trying out her hand in preparing them. Similarly, my aunt who lived in Delhi at that time used to bring sweets from Delhi and explain her mother about the style of preparing them.
Even if one knows the recipes for preparation of various dishes, to bring out perfection in their preparation one needs to have the passion which my grand mother had in plenty and her resultant output always used to be in the restaurant style.
Though I did not have the patience to learn cooking from her, I learnt the art of cooking with passion from her and it certainly pays out now when my children love their mother’s cooking.