The unique method of preparing the idlies is very famous in Chittor district (Andhra pradesh). My mom is an expert in making these sponges. Yes, I call them as sponges, as the idli will retain its shape back like a sponge when we squeeze and release.
Few useful tips:
Always soak the rice and daal separately for at least for 6 hours.
Once you grind them allow to ferment for at least 8 hours.
In cooler countries, always place the batter in a warm place like heated oven (turn on for 5 - 10 min and make sure to turn it off) or even place the batter vessel inside a hot pack or thermo pack to maintain the temperatures.
If the batter has not fermented enough then you can add baking soda by which idly will become fluffy.Ingredients:
Rice of any variety – 3 cups
Urad daal – 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
Cooked Rice - 1/2 cup
Salt - 1 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp (Optional)
Heat water until it just starts boiling. Wash rice and transfer the rice into hot water and DO NOT CLOSE THE LID until the water gets cool. This is a true substitute for par boiled rice. Soak the urad daal separately.
Grind the urad daal and cooked rice into fine paste along with fenugreek seeds. Grind rice not too smooth and not too coarse and mix everything together and allow to ferment. It is not a big deal to grind the batter using wet grinder. But, it is a tough task to gring the urad daal in a mixer as urad daal is very sticky in nature, it get stuck when there is not enough water. I grind urad daal bit watery (Make sure not too watery). We do not require water to grind rice,so drain all the water from the rice and grind coarsely. Now add the grounded rice to urad daal and allow it to fermant.
When it gets fermented scoop the batter into idli moulds and steam them.
Usually it takes 12 - 15 minutes to steam idly. Leave them for 5 minutes, so that the idly becomes bit firm and we can scoop out easily with out disturbing the shape.
Idly with peanut chutney