Showing posts with label Urad Dal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Urad Dal. Show all posts

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Idli, Dosa, Chutney: Brunch Perfection

V and I enjoy having friends over for casual gatherings on the weekends. Typically, people tend to meet for dinner on the weekends, but dinner-time is not at all my favorite time for entertaining. I'm an early bird who is up and about at 5 AM (yes, even on the weekends; especially on the weekends when there are so many fun things to look forward to). By 6 in the evening, I am pretty tired and crabby and not much fun to be around.

Brunch or lunch is my preferred social hour. You do your cooking in the morning, enjoy your friends and still have many more hours left in the day to relax or do something else.

A couple of weekends ago we had just such a gathering scheduled and I made my favorite brunch trio of idli, sambar and chutney. Our friends offered to bring along a dish. I always say yes to this gracious offer- potluck style equals less work for any one person. And I never worry too much about what-goes-with-what. We might end up eating some strange combinations of dishes but everything is always delicious. This time our pals brought over sweet french toast with maple syrup and juicy strawberries.

The camera candidly captured the table laid out with brunch- idlis, chutney and sambar. And a platter of cookies in the background for dunking into tea.
Pillowy challah french toast with sliced strawberries- brought over by our friends.
Idli, sambar and chutney is a trio that I have made so many times before (and posted so many times I've lost count), but never the same way twice! I keep tweaking the idli recipe to make them fluffier, fiddling with the sambar recipe to make it more like the kind from Udipi restaurants and varying the chutneys because there are so many to choose from.

1. The Idlis

For several years, I made idlis using recipes that call for idli rava. But there is such a difference between a good idli and a fantastic one- once you have eaten the latter you get spoiled for life. In my hands (meaning, there are surely ways to make the perfect idli with idli rava but I don't know what they are), the fluffiest idlis come about when you use a special variety of rice sold as idli rice- this rice is parboiled. My idli "aha" moment came last summer when V's aunt visited and I watched her make idlis with parboiled rice. Busy with baby and all, it was only now that I got to try my hand at it. If you have an electric stone grinder and if you have access to parboiled rice, you need to read these two posts from the The Yum Blog. I followed their proportion 1 (adding a fistful of poha for better fermentation), and followed all their excellent tips for grinding the batter. Even on that cold weekend, the batter rose gratifying well and the resulting buttery, fluffy idlis made me weep with joy. No exaggeration.

Update on March 18, 2012: In a comment on this post, Arch suggested that I try Vani's soft idlis. This weekend, I did and yes, this is an incredible recipe! The only difference is that I soaked the parboiled rice, ural dal and poha all together and ground them all together too. The idlis turned out soft and wonderful. So all in all, I think parboiled rice and poha make for successful idlis in my hands.

Idli stand- with molds to make 16 idlis at a time

2. Udipi Sambar

This time around I tried the Udipi Sambar recipe from Peppermill. A recipe from sweet beloved Miri; she is no longer with us but continues to be part of my life. Read her post for a lovely description of why this sweetish, coconut-laced version of sambar is beloved among those of us who ate at Udipi restaurants in Bombay. Here is my adaptation of Miri's recipe.
Udipi Sambar
1. Pressure cook 1/2 cup toor dal. Mash it well and set aside.
2. Heat a little oil in small pan. Add the following ingredients in this order and fry them, then cool and grind to a thick paste (in my case it was more like a wet powder).
  • 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tsp. urad dal
  • 2 tbsp. coriander seeds
  • Few curry leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh/frozen coconut
3. You're ready to make sambar. In a large pan, heat 2 tsp. oil. Temper it with
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds 
  • 1 tsp. urad dal
  • Pinch of asafetida
  • Sprig of curry leaves
4. Add vegetables- I used chunks of red onion this time. Batons of drumsticks, carrot, baby onions, cubes of eggplant, pumpkin all work well. Stir fry for a few minutes. Add salt, red chili powder, turmeric, tamarind paste and jaggery to taste. Add a cup of water, cover and cook for a few minutes.
5. Now stir in the masala paste and toor dal from step 1 and 2. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the flavors and consistency before serving.

3. A fresh verdant chutney
I use a coffee grinder as my "mixie" and it works for the most part but the coconut chutney made with fresh frozen coconut never seems to be quite as silky smooth as I would like. The idea for using coconut milk instead of fresh/frozen shredded coconut came from Vaishali's post from many years ago. This recipe will give you beautifully smooth chutney in any old blender.

Cilantro Coconut Chutney
1. Blend together and scrape into a serving bowl:
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 chopped hot green chili (or green chili paste to taste)
  • 1/2 cup dalia or roasted chana dal (phutane in Marathi)
  • 1 mini can coconut milk (5.6 oz. or 2/3 cup)
2. Make a tadka or "tempering" with:
  • 2 tsp. oil
  • 2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. urad dal
  • 1 tsp. chana dal
  • Pinch of asafetida
  • Sprig of curry leaves
3. Stir in:
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice
Anyway, this brunch was a labor of love and so utterly rewarding. Our friends had never tasted idli before and looked quizzically at these snow-white steamed cakes but a few bites later, I heard things like, "Why can't I stop eating these?".

That weekend was special for another reason. It was the first time Lila rolled over, leaving us speechless with delight. So that makes it two milestones- Lila taking the first step towards mobility and me making idlis that I am proud to share. That Monday, when co-workers asked the perfunctory question, "How was your weekend?", I could say with absolute sincerity that my weekend had been just perfect.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

More Dosa Love

Srivalli's Dosa Mela ("dosa" is a family of Southern Indian crepes/pancakes and "mela" is a gathering or fair) has me all excited. I have two recipes to take along to the dosa mela today: my version of the classic Mysore Masala dosa and then, specially for certain people who can't get dosa batter to ferment, a simple goduma dosa, that needs no soaking, grinding, fermenting or any other form of molly-coddling whatsoever.

Eating out at a dosa restaurant is always a lot of fun. Generally, the menu is long but predictable and having a working knowledge of dosa vocabulary goes a long way in making informed decisions about what dosa to choose from the menu!

What to expect when you are expecting dosa to be served :D
Dosa: An airy pancake/crepe made with fermented rice-lentil batter
Rava Dosa: Instead of the regular dosa batter, this dosa is made with a semolina (rava) batter; it is a dosa that looks lacier and has a different taste
Masala: Normal usage: spice; in the dosa context, this is a spicy, turmeric-tinged potato filling
Sada: This refers to "plain", sans potato filling
Mysore: This is a beautiful city in Southern India. In the dosa context, it means that the dosa will be smeared with a spicy chutney (either a paste or a powder)
Paper: An extra-crispy dosa that is as thin as paper
Ghee: Indian clarified butter will be used in copious amounts in the making of this dosa

So when you read "Sada Rava Dosa" or "Paper Masala Dosa" or "Ghee Mysore Dosa" on the menu, you know exactly what they are referring to. South Indian restaurants specializing in dosas are becoming more popular in the US, thank goodness. In NYC, I highly recommend the gunpowder masala dosa at Chennai Garden (they call it gunpowder for a reason, trust me). In St. Louis, I am told that a restaurant called Priyaa serves dosas, but I have yet to eat there. Of course, if you live in St. Louis, you can be nice to me and I'll be happy to invite you home for dosas ;)

The Mysore Masala Dosa is not difficult to make but I will say that it a multi-component dish: you need to make coconut chutney and sambar (who ever heard of a proper dosa meal without those fixings?) and for the dosa, you need some potato masala (my recipe for the potato masala is exactly like Sailu's) and chutney. The chutney that I am accustomed to seeing in Mysore dosas is the powdered kind (podi). This is not difficult to make at home, but I chose the lazy way out and used store-bought MTR chutney powder. The recipe for the dosa batter comes from the booklet 100 Tiffin Varieties by S. Mallika Badrinath. This tiny and inexpensive booklet is full of good ideas and recipes (well, a hundred of them, as advertised). Apart from a bunch of dosa recipes, she has 2 "Dosa Bonanza" tables (one for the soaking/grinding variety and one for the ready-mix variety) which cover about 20-some dosas in the space of 3-4 pages by cleverly putting columns in a spreadsheet: name of dosa, ingredients, seasonings, method of cooking, yield etc. Very efficient!

Mysore Masala Dosa


(From Mallika Badrinath's 100 Tiffin Varieties; serves 2-3)
Soak together for 5-6 hours:
½ C Brown rice
½ C Sona masuri rice (or other white rice)
1 heaped T urad dal
1 heaped T toor dal

¼ C poha (flattened rice flakes)
1 t salt (or to taste)

½ t sugar
1 ½ T rava (semolina)

1. An hour before grinding, soak the poha. Then, drain the soaked poha and add it to the soaked ingredients. Grind everything together into a smooth batter.
2. Add salt and ferment in a warm spot for 12-16 hours or until utterly bubbly.
3. An hour before making dosas, stir in the sugar and rava into the batter. The batter should be easy to pour- add some water if it is too thick.

Make thin dosas, using the back of the ladle to spread the dosa out on the skillet. These thin dosas only need to be cooked on one side. When the top of the dosa is dry, sprinkle some (or a lot!) of the chutney powder and a little bit of the potato stuffing. Fold, serve, eat...right away.

I think the little bit of rava makes this dosa extra crispy and delicious. This was such a wonderful meal!

For a gorgeous version of Mysore Masala dosa, check this recipe from Ruchii. What's more, she is from Mysore!

In case you are still hungry, here is the second dosa. You mix two flours, pour in water to make a batter and make dosas. Easy breezy but delicious. The concept of using atta (fine whole wheat flour) for dosa is completely new to me. I followed Krithika's recipe for Goduma dosa, and halved it to get just enough dosas for two, and one little dosa just for Dale (he loves dosa like you would not believe; sits and begs by the stove until I feed him some). I did not bother to let the batter rest, and made sure that it was a very thin batter. These dosas are unlike any I have made before, the batter pours on the skillet and turns into this lacy pattern as it dances over the hot surface.

I served these crispy dosas with Indosungod's Tomato Carrot Chutney- a clever recipe that uses carrot instead of coconut.

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In the past couple of weeks, I have been trooping all over town meeting food bloggers here in St. Louis. First it was a St. Louis Food Bloggers potluck, hosted by Stef. Just as expected, it was a wonderful event, with good company and great food. Among other goodies, I tasted these lavender-pear cupcakes, gawked at IronStef's creations and could not get enough of this gorgeous orzo with roasted vegetables.

My own contributions to the potluck: Ragda-Patties with the works, and Carrot Halwa (although those posts are old ones, and the recipes I now use have been tweaked a bit).
I was in a silly mood, and shaped the patties as hearts. It turned out not to be such a bad idea after all; the heart-shaped patties have better stacking properties and I could fit more patties per square inch on the baking dish!

It turns out that Stef's husband, Jonathan, is a professional photographer. Here is a gorgeous photo he took of my date-tamarind chutney being poured onto a patty:

Then, yesterday, I got a chance to have coffee with Seema, just in the nick of time as she relocates to India in a few days. It was wonderful to sit and talk with her and get to meet her family, including an adorable toddler. Here's wishing Seema good times in her new home and plenty of good eats in her new kitchen in India.

Meeting up with food bloggers sometimes results in funny conversations in real life.

When I told my friend M about the bloggers potluck...
M: A Food Bloggers' potluck?? Can regular people go?
Me: No, you have to be a food blogger or be married to one!
M: Oh :( loose associations with food bloggers don't count, eh?

And when my friend J (who has no idea about this blog) asked about my weekend plans...
Me: I'm going to have coffee with a friend...she is relocating to India and I want to meet up with her.
J: How do you know her?
Me: Umm...I met her online...

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Idli Dosa Love

I am big on breakfasts, and strongly believe in equal opportunity for breakfast foods- so you will often catch me serving them for lunch, tea and dinner as well. This month (or what's left of it), I decided to give some thought to including more whole grains into breakfast. I do love my so-not-whole-grain poha, sabudana, rava dosa and baguettes, but let me add some whole grains to my repertoire too.

Today's whole-grain tweak: Brown rice in idlis and dosas. The idli-dosa family of breakfast foods has got to be one of the most strongest contenders in the "nutritious meets delicious" department. There is something about the whole ritual of soaking rice and lentils, grinding them, fermenting the batter and churning out fluffy idlis and crispy dosas that is just very fulfilling. Makes me feel like a real proper cook :D

Until a month or two ago, the biggest challenge for me was the grinding of the batter; I had to manage with my KitchenAid food processor. Just for the record, the food processor was able to gring soaked rice and urad dal (separately) quite well, but was an utter failure when it came to grinding soaked parboiled rice. I would bite my lip nervously every time I made batter wondering if today was the day when my delicate machine would decide that it was not built for such arduous tasks and die on me. The best way to grind these batters at home is to buy one of those heavy-duty wet grinders (developed and manufactured in India) that are uniquely designed for this purpose. But you know what- they are quite expensive and I was quite sure that one was never going to fit into my budget at this time. Then I got one of these wet grinders as a gift! V's cousin bought a newer, smaller version and generously let me have her wet grinder. This is one impressive machine. A huge metal drum with a stone floor holds two huge grinding stones (scroll down in that link to take a look at them). Start the heavy-duty motor, and even the most unyielding dal and rice is churned into a buttery paste.

One of the first recipes I tried in the wet grinder was Jugalbandi's Whole-Grain Idlis. Yes, I finally have some gorgeous rosematta rice in my pantry.

Some time ago, I whined in a post about not being able to find rosematta rice around here. Two kind souls responded: my friend Madhu came over with rosematta rice for me to try and the one and only Linda mailed me a beautiful glass jar of rosematta from far, far away! Now this is when you soberly realize what a lucky girl you are- when even your petulant whining leads kind friends to help you.

I followed Bee and Jai's recipe except that I skipped the 2 T of cooked rice/poha/soaked bread. I like this recipe because (a) it combines brown rice and parboiled rice (the latter, although not technically a whole grain, does retain a great many of its nutrients, if I understand correctly), (b) makes a small batch of 12-15 idlis which is nice because most idli recipes are designed to make enough idlis to feed a small village, (c) includes a tip for soaking the rice and lentils in filtered water and not chlorinated tap water (I never thought of that!).

The batter fermented beautifully without the need for any interventions such as the surreptitious addition of fruit salt :D. I am lucky in that respect; fermentation has never been a problem in my present kitchen. Still, whenever I ferment something overnight, I do tend to worry about it and obsess over it. The first thought as I cross the hazy land of half-sleep is, did the batter ferment? It is enough to jerk me wide awake and get me to stumble in the darkness to the kitchen and check on the bowl of batter. A whiff of the sweet-sour aroma of fermented batter and a look at the bubbling mass in the half-light, and I am able to heave a sigh of relief.

Here are the idlis, served with huli (now updated with a link to Latha's secret family recipe for vibrant huli powder). See all those holes that the yeasty beasties so obligingly made?

And if steamed whole-grain idlis feel a little too healthy, you can always find creative ways to convert them into a guilty pleasure. Exhibit A: fried idli. Idlis cut into 4-5 slices, then fried in a T or so of oil until crispy.

Now that I have the wet grinder, I am like a kid with her new toy- can't stop playing with it. Here's another recipe I tried: Ashwini's Mushti Polo. Her engaging write-up tells us the origin of the name of this dosa. Adding poha (flattened rice flakes) to dosa is something new to me. I did follow the recipe exactly, except to use 1 C brown rice and 1 C white rice in place of 2 C white rice. I figured, with the white poha being refined, I would add some brown rice and split the difference in terms of whole grains. It has worked beautifully for me every time I sub brown rice for white rice in a dosa recipe. Next time, I will try all brown rice in this recipe.

The poha really helps the fermentation along, and this was the laciest and airiest dosa I have ever made in my life. It was great in the lunch-box too! I served this with pearl-onion sambar and parsley chutney (the normal coconut-cilantro-green chillies chutney but using parsley instead of cilantro because it was what I had on hand).

Poha dosas are very popular in the food blog world:
Sharmi's Atukula Attlu looks incredibly spongy and uses sour yogurt or buttermilk to help the fermentation along.
Shilpa prefers to call her poha dosa Masti Dosa- that's how much fun it is to make and eat!
Namratha's Set Dosa comes with a great story of how that name came about.

*** *** ***

Mandira, the talented blogger over at Ahaar, just wrote a cover story for Khabar, monthly Indian-American magazine published from Atlanta. Click to read the story, "The Call of the Kitchen". Congratulations on a beautiful article, Mandira. She was kind enough to interview me for it, although I am well aware that I absolutely do not belong in the list of accomplished cooks and writers featured there.

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Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and wishes for our puppy. We love this dog something awful and you have no idea how grateful I am for the wishes he gets from folks near and far.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I is for Idli with Vegetables

The myriad cuisines of India all love their vegetables! Veggies are diced and sliced, grated and mashed, stir-fried and curried into hundreds of vegetable dishes. In this series, the A to Z of Indian Vegetables, we take an alphabetical journey through the various avatars of vegetables relished in Indian cuisine. For each letter, we will make a tasty vegetable dish that illustrates one manner in which vegetables are savored in India.

The "I" of Indian Vegetables

The letter I inspired twelve incredible Indian flavors! It is a difficult letter to come up with foods for, and I'm so amazed at the creativity of the participants. When I complained about the lack of I vegetables to V, he immediately said, "Well, there is iceberg lettuce. You could make iceberg lettuce wrapped around some grilled paneer tikka or something". Hmm...I don't give the man enough credit :) I was amused and impressed all at the same time.

To start off, two I vegetables...

First up, the tapering, crunchy, fluorescent green Italian Peppers, also called Cubanelle peppers. New food blogger Sapna of Indian Monsoon cooks these Italian Peppers, Indian Style in a delightful stir-fry using both chickpea flour and peanuts to add panache to the dish. Read the post to find out why she would call these peppers salad mirch in India!

Next comes Imli or tamarind. Many cuisines prize the fruit of the tamarind tree for its tangy pulp that is used to flavor everything from the Indonesian pad thai to Indian chaats to Worchestershire sauce! But Suma of Veggie Platter takes it one step ahead. She uses the *leaves* of the tamarind tree (imli ke paththe in Hindi) and makes a delicious and tangy Imli ke Paththon ki Dal.

Sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cookbook writes a beautiful description of her childhood memories surrounding Imli, and combines raw tamarind with raw papaya to make a sweet-'n-sour Papaya Tamarind Chutney.

Up ahead, we have a complete brunch buffet, for one of India's most popular breakfast foods is an "I" food, the Idli. The most well-known idli starts with a fermented batter of ural dal (split black lentils) and rice, steamed to perfection in little molds. Here we have four different veggie-fied variations of the ever-beloved idli!

A popular variation of the idli is the rava idli, also called the instant idli because it does not require fermentation, made with semolina/rava/cream of wheat. Asha of Aroma/Foodie's Hope tweaks the recipe by adding chana dal, carrots and green peas, and cooks up some colorful and nutritious Idlis with Chana Dal and Vegetables.

Usually, idlis are made with a big batch of batter, and it is quite common to have some left over. What do you do with them? Here are two innovative ideas for recycling those leftover idlis into tasty preparations!

Suma of Veggie Platter takes the bland steamed idlis and jazzes them up with some vegetables, nuts and seasoning to make a delicious Idli Upma.

A very innovative use of leftover idlis is Idli Manchurian by Swapna of Swad. Small squares of idlis are batter-fried, then dipped into a green pepper-green onion sauce in the typical tasty style of Indo-Chinese fusion cuisine.

Remember Prajakta, who mailed in her entry for green tomato chutney last week? This week, lo and behold, she has her very own food blog, called "swaypakghar" (the Marathi word for kitchen)! So here we have Prajakta of Swaypakghar using the Idli Rava, ground rice that is typically used for making idli batter, to make delicious savory pancakes called Idli Rawyache Appe.

Let's not forget that I also represents a magic word in the dictionary of the busy cook: Instant! Don't get me wrong; I am completely willing to make time-consuming and involved dishes, but every so often, life gets busy and demands that we have some "instant" recipes tucked away in our repertoire. The pressure cooker is one reliable route for instant (not to mention fuel-saving and nutrient-conserving) meal prep. Richa of As Dear As Salt shares a delicious recipe for Instant Pineapple Jam (complete with a Marathi transliteration) using only pantry ingredients and a short amount of time!

And now for four regional specialties...

Bee and Jai of Jugalbandi come up with a beautiful bowl of Istu, a creamy coconut-based vegetable curry. You probably guessed it, but Istu is the Malalayam (the language of Kerala) version of the English word "stew"!

Sheela of Delectable Victuals makes her favorite comfort food, Idi Chakkai. She explains that Idi Chakkai translates as "pounded jackfruit" and this milk curry of tender raw jackfruit certainly looks comforting to me!

Sigma of Live To Eat also goes back to her roots in Kerela and talks about Ilaneer, which means tender coconut water in Malayalam. If you have ever tasted the tender drink from the coconut, you know that it is a little taste of heaven! Sigma mixes up the tender coconut water into a sweet and refresing Ilaneer Drink that looks just perfect for the summer months ahead!

Linda of Out Of The Garden does some clever culinary research and found that irulli means "onion" in Tamil! She promptly goes on to mix some Indian flavors into the New England classic combination of apples and onions and comes up with a delicious dish of Fried Onions and Apples!

I is for Idli with Vegetables: Vegetables for Breakfast

Breakfast is certainly my favorite meal. In stark contrast to those folks who are loathe to consume anything more solid than a cup of coffee before noon, I can put away vast quantities of food at six in the morning. And it does not have to be traditional breakfast fare either, leftover dinner suits me just fine. But I do have one picky issue: I don't really like sweet foods for breakfast. Lucky for me, traditional Indian breakfasts fit all my criteria: they tend to be both heavy and savory.

Since we are all trying to eat several servings of vegetables through the day, I love the idea of eating vegetables at breakfast to give a head-start to the day's veggie consumption. Traditional Indian breakfast dishes do offer plenty of ways to do this. Here are some examples of breakfast eaten in different parts of India:

In the North of India, a predominantly bread-eating region, you are likely to find parathas for breakfast. We talked about parathas quite a bit during the gobi paratha post. Parathas stuffed with vegetables (potatoes, cauliflower, mixed vegetables) are served with yogurt and a spicy tangy pickle. If you were to chop up some salad vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, carrot, radish, onion) and stir in some yogurt and cumin to make a raita, the combination of stuffed paratha and raita is both filling and nutritious!

In the South of India, breakfast is dominated by foods made with a fermented batter of urad dal and rice: idlis, dosas and all their delicious variations. Typically, these will be served with a coconut chutney and sambar, an aromatic dal with vegetables. In my mind, the fluffy steamed idlis served with a vegetable sambar represent one of the most wholesome breakfast foods on this planet. This combination has very little added fat, but is packed with nutrition and taste. I really wanted to make idlis for this segment (and I confess, it was about the only "I" food I could come up with), and googled vegetable idli. The recipe that follows is pure experimentation based on ideas gleaned from a variety of recipes online.

Tiny diced vegetables are sauteed lightly, then sandwiched between dollops of idli batter and steamed. The result is a colorful and tasty variation to the idli. I think the presence of tiny dots of colorful veggies would make this idli quite appealing to little ones. A word of warning to first-time idli-makers: idli, at least soft and fluffy ones, may need a combination of luck and experience to perfect. The exact consistency of idli batter is crucial, and nearly impossible to describe in words. I use my mom's idli recipe for the proportions, but tips from Dakshin helped me a lot in creating soft idlis.

Stuffed Idlis

(makes about 32 idlis, serves 6-8)
1. Make the filling: heat 1 tsp oil, then temper with 1 tsp cumin seeds. Add 1 cup mixed finely diced vegetables (I used boiled potato, carrot, red pepper, green beans) and saute for a few minutes until barely tender. Season with salt, turmeric and red chili powder. Set the filling aside.
2. Soak 1 cup urad dal overnight in warm water. Drain it (catch the soaking liquid in a bowl) and place it in the bowl of a food processor along with 1 tsp fenugreek seeds. Process the urad dal to a very fine paste, adding some of the soaking liquid if required. It should be very thick.
3. Soak 2 cups idli rava (a special sort of cream-of-rice) for 30 minutes in warm water. Drain most of the water.
4. Mix the urad dal paste, soaked idli rava and 1 tsp salt until well combined. Cover and leave in a warm spot to ferment (I usually need 10-15 hours).
5. When the batter appears fluffy and risen, you are ready to steam the idlis.
6. Grease the idli molds using non-stick spray. Do not mix the batter at all, but scoop it gently into the idli molds. The bubbles trapped in the batter will make the idlis fluffy, so be gentle. To make stuffed idlis, put a half-scoop of batter to cover the bottom of the idli mold. Add a tsp of vegetable filling, then cover with another-half scoop of batter. The picture shows the first half of the batter topped with the filling (in the ugly yellow light of my kitchen).
7. Steam the idlis for 15-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes clean.

Variations on a theme
1. This potato-Stuffed Idli from Foodlovers looks delicious!
2. You can, of course, omit the vegetable stuffing and make plain idlis. Try halving steamed idlis and sandwiching them with some vegetable filling or a chutney.

How do you serve this dish?
1. Traditionally, idlis are served with sambar. See sambar recipes from bloggers: Annita, Manisha, Chaipani, and me.

Fellow bloggers have come up with many delicious ways of sneaking in vegetables for breakfast. Here are some of my favorite finds:
Dalia Ravivar from A Mad Tea Party,
Veggie Poha from The Daily Tiffin,
Vegetable Uthappam from Sailu's Food,
Besan ka Cheela from Sugar and Spice,
Methi Matar Paratha from Keep Trying,
Cucumber Pancakes from Food For Thought,

Previously on the A to Z of Indian Vegetables...
A is for Aloo Gobi: North-Indian Stir-Fry
B is for Bharli Mirchi: Stuffed Vegetables
C is for Carrot-Cashew Payasam: Desserts
D is for Dum ki Arbi: Dum Style of Cooking
E is for Egg-Fried Rice: Rice and Vegetables
F is for Foogath: South-Indian Stir-Fry
G is for Gobi Paratha: Vegetables in Breads
H is for Hariyali Tikki: Vegetables in Appetizers