Idlis and dosas are the ever popular breakfast of not just South India but these ubiquitous dishes are also loved all over India and in Indian food joints across the world.
These rice breads of sorts are basically made from a soaked, ground and fermented batter of rice and black gram lentils (urad dal) but they certainly cannot be constricted by a narrow definition. There are innumerable variants and many a time even the basic ingredients are substituted by other grains or combinations thereof.
Case in point being that while a classic idli or dosa would use a certain proportion of rice and dal, in this recipe I have asked quinoa to join the game so that I have one more toy to play with 😀
So let us get onto the method of preparing quinoa idlis and dosas and excuse the brand plug on my picture because that is the only one I have for now 😀
Idli and dosa –
As mentioned, idli and dosa are popular breakfast items in India. An idli is a steamed cake of sorts and a dosa is a crepe/pancake of sorts.
The batter for idli is a bit thicker than that of dosa batter and while there are several recipes for each one, many a time the same basic batter also works well for both. My method is going to use the same batter with the consistency altered suitably for each item.
I will make a quick introduction to quinoa and for those who want to learn more, my post on how to cook Quinoais available on my blog.
Chenopodium Quinoa is a plant belonging to the Amaranth family. Though the quinoa is used and referred to as a grain, it is actually the seed of the plant which is cooked and eaten in a manner similar to grains, hence it is classified as a pseudo cereal. It is also ground into flour and used as a gluten free alternative.
It is becoming increasingly common to adapt this grain in our traditional cooking and that is what this recipe is also going to demonstrate.
Basic process for idli and dosa –
Generally speaking, the rice or millet or any other relevant grain is soaked overnight or at least for 5-6 hours. Likewise the urad dal (which aids in fermentation) is also separately soaked. Some people also soak a pinch of fenugreek (methi) seeds with the dal, since methi also aids in fermentation.
The soaked dal and rice etc is ground to a paste either separately or together. The desired end product decides how coarse or smooth the batter should be. Salt is also added while grinding.
The batter is ground to a thick dropping consistency and is left at room temperature or in a suitable warm place in order to ferment. Fermentation is indicated by a substantial rise in the batter volume and a resultant airiness.
This fresh, thick batter is usually used to make idlis soon after it reaches the desired level of fermentation.
The remaining batter is diluted to a slightly less thick and easily pourable consistency and this is used for making dosas.
This batter can be refrigerated and used for dosas but for idlis it is always advisable to use unrefrigerated fresh batter for best results.
The batter can last in the fridge for upto a week, depending on various factors including the weather.
Quinoa idli and dosa recipe –
I have my regular idli recipe that I learnt from a neighbor and which I have tweaked to include quinoa and this really gives more fun results that a regular plain idli 😀
Idli rava – 1 cup
Quinoa seeds – 1/2 cup
Urad dal – 1/2 cup
Methi seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon or to taste
Soak the quinoa for around 15 minutes in plenty of water.
Rinse and discard the water a few times till the water runs clear. Use a fine mesh during this process to avoid losing the grains.
Submerge and soak the quinoa in drinking water.
Likewise rinse and wash the urad dal and then submerge in drinking water along with the methi seeds.
Soak the idli rice rava in plenty of drinking water.
After a minimum of 5-6 hours (or overnight), drain the water from quinoa using a strainer.
Do the same for the urad but retain some of the soaking water for grinding because this will aid quicker fermentation.
Rinse and wash the rice rava 2 – 3 times. Be very careful not to lose the fine grains. Squeeze as much water out of the rava as possible.
In a mixer or grinder, grind the urad, methi and quinoa till they turn into a paste. Add the rice rava and salt and grind until you achieve a consistency that is not extremely smooth but still has a slight coarseness to it.
Pour the batter in a sufficiently large vessel (to allow for expansion) and leave in a warm place overnight or until it ferments and rises significantly (double the volume is a good indicator).
Pour water in the idli steamer and bring it to a boil.
Grease the idli moulds and ladle in the batter without disturbing the aeration. This is important to get soft and light idlis.
Place the moulds in the steamer, close the lid and steam for an average of 10 minutes on medium high heat.
A wet knife pierced into the idli should come out clean, to indicate that it is done.
Remove the moulds from the steamer. Allow the idlis to cool for 10 minutes. Wet the tip of a blunt knife and ease out the idlis from the cavities of the mould.
They are best eaten fresh and hot but can also be stored in the fridge in a closed container for a couple of days. Idlis can also be sealed in closed containers or zip locks and frozen for a few weeks. One can re-steam or microwave or even fry them crisp on a pan.
The same batter can be used for dosas after diluting a bit to pouring consistency. Grease and heat a tava (frying pan). Pour a ladleful of batter and smear it evenly across the pan by moving the ladle in a circular fashion.
Pour 1/2 teaspoon of oil around the edges and allow it to cook.
Once the underside starts browning, gently ease the dosa out with a sharp square spatula and flip it over. Cook till the other side is also done to the crispness that you desire.
Idlis and dosas are eaten with various types of chutneys, chutney powders, sambhar (lentil stew) etc etc.
Please do leave your valuable feedback or queries in the comments. I would love to hear from you.