Idlis are soft and fluffy steamed rice cakes, made from a fermented batter. Serve them hot with a nourishing sambhar and a tangy chutney.
If you’ve never heard about idlis before, you are in for an absolute treat. They are little steamed savoury rice cakes that are made from a fermented batter and are relished with a piping hot sambhar (lentil and vegetable stew) and a tangy coconut chutney.
Back when I lived it Mumbai, these idlis, like a lot of other South Indian snacks were readily available in local South Indian restaurants as well as little street food stands that dot the city. It was really easy to pop in to one of these joints for a piping hot plate of them. So needless to say, while we really enjoyed South Indian food, back then, I never even thought of making them at home. Ofcourse if you’re ever overcome with a feeling of adventure and feel the urge to try making them at home, you could buy the batter from a lot of little local shops. I did buy the batter a few times, but only ever to make Dosa – another South Indian treat that I’ll share with you very soon.
That being said, most South Indian homes, make their batter from scratch. I somehow never got around to trying that out. Until I moved to Sydney, that is. Here, you can still go visit an Indian restaurant and most of them serve up some South Indian food. Some Indian grocery stores stock the fermented batter too. The only catch is, you may have to travel a bit to get to one such restaurant or store. Also, if you do find one, it can be quite pricey. I mean, I always knew what went into the batter. There was nothing stopping me from trying it out at home. So, a few years ago, that’s exactly what we did.
Making good Idlis from scratch is a fairly simple process. It is a little lengthy, but it’s mostly hands-off time to let the batter ferment and such. There is very little hands-on time involved.
There are three basic elements that make a great Idli plate –
- The Idlis – Today I’m going to share with you my tried and tested process for making the batter from scratch and how I make soft and fluffy Idlis using this batter.
- Sambhar – A Sambhar is a lentil and vegetable stew that’s really easy to make. I’ve shared my recipe in the past. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check it out here – Vegetable Sambhar
- Tangy Coconut Chutney – This no cook recipe uses just a few ingredients and can be served alongside a variety of South Indian meals and snacks like Dosas, Vadas and so on. You can check out my go-to chutney recipe here.
The Idli batter –
Making the batter is a fairly simple process. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind to make sure you get the best results.
What type of rice can be used?
For best results, use Idli rice. Idli rice will be labelled as such and is quite easy to find in most Indian grocery stores. Idli rice is a short grain variety of rice that is par-boiled. Being par-boiled doesnt mean it will look soft or semi cooked. It will still look and feel like uncooked rice and you will find it stocked with other varieties of rice.
If you can’t find Idli rice, use another short or medium grain rice. I would not recommend Basmati rice for this.
The rice to lentil ratio –
I personally find that a 1:4 ratio works best. I’ve tried a few other variations but this gives me the best results. So for every 1 part of urad dal (hulled and split black lentils), I use 4 parts of rice.
Grinding the batter –
Ideally a wet grinder is used to grind the grains into a batter. I currently use my Vitamix blender to grind the grains and it works beautifully. You can also use any other high-speed blender.
If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you will still be able to make the batter in a regular blender. You will just need to grind it in smaller batches. I have successfully used my old Phillips blender in the past.
Fermenting the batter –
The fermentation process can be a little fickle from time to time. Also, depending on weather conditions, the time taken to ferment your batter can also differ. I’ve had to experiment with the process quite a few times to figure out what works best. These tips should give you an idea of what to expect.
The batter needs a warm environment to ferment. If it’s warm where you are, the batter can simply be left on your kitchen counter to ferment. But if it is cooler, leave the batter in a warm spot in your house.
For me, unless it’s a hot day here in Sydney, I usually place the batter in my unheated oven and leave it there to ferment for about 8 hours. During winter, I warm up my oven for a couple of minutes at 100ºC, just till the oven is at room temperature (or what a summertime room temperature would feel like), turn the oven off and leave the batter to ferment in there.
How to tell if you’re batter is fermented?
The batter will have increased in volume. This increase is fairly significant, so make sure you use a large vessel for this. You will also notice that the top layer of the batter is slightly frothy. Your batter will also have developed a slightly fermented aroma.
If you don’t notice these changes to your batter, leave it to ferment for another couple of hours or so. There are times where it has taken me upto 10-11 hours for the batter to ferment.
How to make Idlis from scratchCourse: BreakfastDifficulty: Medium
Idlis are soft and fluffy steamed rice cakes, made from a fermented batter. Serve them hot with a nourishing sambhar and a tangy chutney.
3 cups Idli rice
3/4 cup urad dal (hulled and split black lentils)
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
Salt, to taste
- Wash the rice, dal and fenugreek seeds with cold running water about 3-4 times or until the water runs clear.
- Place the washed grains and fenugreek in a large bow. Add some fresh water to the bowl. Use enough water to cover the grains by about 2 inches. Leave this to soak for 3 hours.
- After 3 hours of soaking, grind it to a batter using a little of the soaking liquid as needed. You need a thick batter, almost like the consistency of a pancake batter. You may need to do this in batches.
- Transfer the batter to a steel stockpot or large vessel. (The vessel should be large enough to hold about double the quantity of the batter, because the batter will expand as it ferments.) Cover the vessel and set aside in a warm spot for about 8 – 10 hours to ferment. (Please refer to the section on “Fermenting the batter” in the post above.)
- Once the batter has fermented, remove as much batter as needed for immediate use in another bowl. Store the rest of the batter in the fridge for future use. You can store the batter for about 3-4 days.
- To make the Idlis –
- Work with the batter that you intend to use immediately. To this batter, add a little salt to taste.
- Grease an Idli stand with a little oil.
- Ladle the batter into the idli moulds till they are filled about 80%. The Idlis will rise and expand during cooking.
- Steam the Idlis for about 15 minutes on medium heat till they have cooked through. Pierce the idlis through the centre with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the idlis are ready to serve. If it is still a little sticky, cook for a couple of minutes more or till done.
- Take the stand out of the steamer and leave to rest for a couple of minutes. Demould idlis by running the blunt edge of a butter knife around the edges to loosen it from the mould. Serve hot!
- Please note, the number of Idlis will depend on the size of the mould you use.
- Idlis are best eaten immediately after cooking, but any leftovers can be refrigerated and steamed till re-heated thoroughly and eaten the next day.
Place the baking tray in the oven.
Thaw 3 sheets of puff pastry. The pastry should be soft enough to work with but still cold. If it warms up too much, it gets sticky and difficult to work with.
Crumble the feta into a bowl.
Now add the Ricotta and crumble that in as well.
Add crushed black pepper to taste.
Taste the mix and add more salt if you want. I didn’t need to add any salt at this stage.
Add the spinach and red chili flakes. Mix well.
Crack the egg into a small bowl. Whisk and keep aside.
Working with one sheet at a time, cut the sheet in half.
Spoon the mix to form a long log in the center of each half of the pastry (lengthwise).
Brush one side (along the length) of each half of the sheet with the whisked egg.
Roll the other side of pastry over the spinach into a tight log. The egg will help seal the pastry.
Place the rolls on greaseproof paper, seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the pastry.
Carefully place the paper onto the heated tray.
Brush the tops of the rolls with the whisked egg (egg wash).
Crack some black pepper on the top of each roll and sprinkle some black sesame seeds on the rolls.
Bake for about 30 minutes or till golden brown in color.
These Beef cutlets have got to be one of my favorite recipes. When we were kids, my brother and I would wait for Mum to make a batch of these cutlets at home. It wasn’t made very often, but when it was, it was a real treat. I have, for the most part, stuck to my Mum’s recipe, with just a few tweaks.
These cutlets are very versatile. Make them smaller in size and serve them up with some tomato ketchup or Barbecue Sauce as starters or Finger food, make them larger and use them as patties in Burgers or make a medium size and serve it up with some Mashed potatoes / Roasted potatoes / Fries and a salad .
I have posted a beef cutlet recipe before, but that was a really long time ago. This recipe is the same, with just the addition of some Worcestershire sauce. I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to take some new pictures. After all, its been a long journey from ‘My Hobbie Lobbie’ to ‘The Aspiring Home Cook’. I’ve also filmed a little video with some handy dandy tips too. I will link the video at the end of this post.
Goan Beef Cutlets
(Makes about 14-15)
500g ground beef (beef mince)
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 birdseye chillies, finely chopped (optional)
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2″ ginger, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1/4 tsp black pepper powder
1/4-1/3 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Salt, to taste
2 slices of bread
Bread crumbs, to coat the cutlets
Olive oil, for frying (You can use whatever cooking oil you have on hand)
Soak the slices of bread in water for a few seconds, drain out all the liquid and crumble. Mix together all the ingredients except the bread crumbs and vegetable oil.
Make sure all the ingredients are well mixed and evenly distributed.
Shape into cutlets.
Coat with bread crumbs.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Carefully place the cutlets in the pan and let it cook on a medium heat till its done to your liking. Turn over and cook the other side as well.
Repeat till you’re done with the meat mix, adding more oil to the pan as and when you need to.
Here’s the video –
If you haven’t had potato chops before, you really should. These little beauties are served up in lots of Goan homes, not just in Goa, but around the world. They are a must at any party or family gathering, in my house at least. I have posted this recipe before, but that was years ago. The recipe is still the same one. I’ve just got some new pictures and I’ve made a little video to show you how I make these potato chops. They are pretty simple to make, but if you’re a visual learner like me, the video will help make the process simpler. So go on over and have a look. Let me know if you have any questions at all. The step by step recipe is just below.
1/2 a recipe of Beef Mince (Beef mince video recipe here – https://youtu.be/RhSfsw2EC1U ) (You can substitute mutton mince, if you don’t eat beef)
4-5 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp cumin powder
A pinch of turmeric powder (optional)
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Bread crumbs / Panko bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
Make half a portion of beef mince and keep aside. This should come down to room temperature before you proceed with this recipe.
Boil the potatoes only when you are ready to make the chops you need to work when the potatoes are still warm. Cold potatoes make handling difficult.
Peel and mash the potatoes well. Make sure there are no lumps. Add salt to taste, cumin powder, turmeric powder and coriander leaves and using your hands mix well to ensure all the spices and herbs are evenly distributed. Feel free to adjust the quantities of the spices and herbs used to suit your taste.
Take a portion of the mashed potato, the size of a tennis ball, roll into a ball and flatten to form a thick disc on the palm of your hand. Place a spoon of the mince in the center and bring the sides of the potato disc up and over the filling to cover it well. Make sure that no mince is sticking out. If you feel the need to add more potato to it, feel free to do so. The mashed potato merges well. Shape it to form a patty and keep aside. Continue till you’ve used up all the mashed potato.
Crack an egg in a shallow bowl, wide enough to fit the chops. Beat well to incorporate the white and the yolk.
Pour some bread crumbs onto a plate and keep it ready. I have a little assembly line going for this, starting with the chops at one end, followed by the bowl with the beaten egg, the bread crumbs and a plate lined with some absorbent kitchen paper at the other end.
Heat some oil in a pan.
Briefly dip a chop in the egg and turn over, making sure it coats the chop well.
Dredge it through the bread crumbs making sure the potato chop is well coated. This is what will give it a good crunch.
Carefully place in the pan with the heated oil and shallow fry till it takes on a nice golden brown color. Turn and let the other side fry as well till it gets golden brown.
Carefully take it off the pan and repeat till you’ve used up the rest of the potato mix.
NOTE: You don’t need to fry these one at a time, place as many as your pan can accommodate, making sure theres a little space between them to help you turn these over.
Here’s what it looks like on the inside –
If you’ve been around these parts before you know the most important part of food for me is taste. It helps if it is quick and easy to make and bonus points if it is cute and quirky too. This little treat ticks all those boxes. I found this one in quite a few places on the internet and decided that I had to try them out. They are perfect to make for a Halloween themed party. I will admit that the cheese stringers were a little fiddle to begin with, but eventually things started moving along much faster. And, considering there was zero cooking involved, I still give this little snack a thumbs up. Kids will love the novelty of these ‘Witches Broomsticks’. I made these to serve at an office party and the adults couldn’t keep their hands of them either.
These snacks also use only 3 ingredients – pretzel sticks, cheese stringers and fresh chives. There is not much of a process involved either, so let’s get straight to the instructions.
I hope you make these savory treats this Halloween and enjoy them as much as we did.
Start with the cheese. Cut the cheese stringer sticks into about 1 inch pieces or one thirds.
For each of these pieces, cut up or pull apart two thirds of the length of it to make the bristly edge of the broomsticks.
Now simply pierce the uncut end with a pretzel stick.
Finish them off but tying with a piece of fresh chives.
What treats are you planning for this Halloween???
Around this time of the year, especially if you partake in the Halloween festivities, you will find yourself inundated with candy and other sweet treats and bakes. In a nutshell, a sugar overload. While I love my cakes and sweets / candy as much as the next guy or gal, if you are like me, you will need a little bit of savory to cut through all that sweetness.
Last year, I was really excited about Halloween. We were supposed to have a big Halloween party at my workplace. However, as luck would have it I quit that job in early October to focus on building up a little business. When my colleagues threw me a small farewell party, they decided to roll with the Halloween theme. I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to whip up a few treats. These little cracker bites were one of them. I will share the rest of them with you over the next few days. My job was extremely physically demanding and boasted quite a few really long days. So I had to come up with treats that were quick and easy to put together. I knew the candy part of the party would be taken care of, so I stuck with the savories.
These Monster Eye crackers are perfect for a party or get together. They are a Halloween Play on cheese and crackers. They can be whipped up really quickly with all of 3 ingredients. So, I knew I was going to make them. I was a little skeptical about them considering how simple they are, but let me tell you, they vanished really quickly. I wish I had made more. If you decide on making these, make sure you make a big batch. So to make these, all you need are crackers. I love the Eton crackers found in Aldi stores locally, but if you cannot get your hands on them, Ritz Crackers will work just as well. You can use any other crackers you’d like. Now that the crackers are sorted, the next ingredient is the cheese. I used Kraft Cheese Slices, but again, you can use any cheese slices you like. The last ingredient you need are olives. You can use Pitted Kalamata olives or pitted Green olives, if you prefer.
The process is fairly simply, and works fastest if you create an assemble line. I hope you enjoy these little snacks this Halloween as much as we did.
You will also need a circle cookie cutter, just a little smaller than the size of the crackers you choose to use.
Cut the cheese slices into circles using the cookie cutter and keep aside.
Cut the pitted olives in half and keep aside.
On a serving platter, place the crackers in a single layer.
Top the crackers with a circle of cheese and top that with half an olive.
And that’s basically it. Serve up.
Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, is fast approaching. In the run up to Diwali, most Hindu households are busy preparing for the festival. It is during this time that a number of Sweets and Savories are cooked up to serve Family and visitors and put on platters to give to neighbors and friends. Even though we don’t celebrate Diwali, the food and the fire work displays are my favorite part of the festival. Back in India, we had a few neighbors who put together the most fantastic platters full of homemade Indian sweets (called Mithai) and savories (called Namkeen / Farsaan) and I’d look forward to them every single year.
|This is the plate I used to make the sev|
Today’s post is one such snack option. Kale Chips. I never thought I’d love it as much as I do. I’ve had the option to cook with Kale only in the last couple of years. I’ve not tried too many Kale recipes so far. Just this Skillet Breakfast Hash and now these Kale Chips. I’ve made them both a few times and we love them. That is how I knew, I had to share these Kale Chips with you. Kale is really good for you. They are choc full of antioxidants. These are baked and I can’t tell you how delightful they are to snack on. You have to try it to believe it. What I love is that the options for the seasonings are endless. I have a soft spot to this Spicy Masala Chaat Seasoning. It is a little tangy, a little salty and a little spicy – just perfect. And its such an easy recipe too. All you do is prep the leaves, sprinkle the seasoning over, toss and bake. So what are you waiting for? Try it out. You’ll definitely want to make it again.
You can watch the recipe here –
1 bunch of Kale, washed and shaken dry
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder or to taste
1/2 tsp Chaat masala, or to taste
Salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
To prep the Kale leaves, break the leaves into smaller chip size portions, discarding the tougher stem.
In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, the chilli powder, chaat masal and salt together.
Drizzle this over the the kale leaves and toss well to make sure all the leaves are coated with the spices. Its best to do this with your hands. Rub the leaves gently to get the seasoning in the little nooks and crannies.
Either line a baking tray with some parchment paper or lightly spray with some oil
Arrange the kale leaves in a single layer on the tray.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or till the leaves are lightly browned.
Keep a close watch on the leaves as they can go from just right to burnt very quickly.
Take them out of the oven and let the chips cool completely before eating. They crisp up as they cool.
Sit back and enjoy.
Pin now and enjoy later!
The trick to a good papdi chaat is getting the right balance with the whipped yogurt. Unfortunately, there is no accurate measure here, because the tartness of the yogurt varies greatly. You could use regular pot set yogurt or greek yogurt here, either way, it has to be plain, unflavored and unsweetened yogurt. I start off with half a cup of yogurt for a single plate of chaat or 1 cup for 2 plates or portions. Trust me here, you’d rather have more of the whipped yogurt dip at hand, instead of falling short or running out of it.
So let’s get straight to it then. The list below is an approximation. You add as much or as little of each of the ingredients to suit your preferences. The quantities below make one plate or 1 portion. You can easily double or multiply the quantities to make more. Also I used chickpeas here, you could use boiled potato instead or a combination of both.
For 1 portion
6-7 puris (also called Papdi)
1/2 cup boiled / canned chickpeas, roughly mashed
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1/4 tomato, finely diced
Date and Tamarind Chutney
Fresh coriander, chopped
Some chaat masala / amchur (dried mango) powder
1/2 cup plain, unflavoured and unsweetened yogurt
A pinch of salt
Sugar, to taste (superfine sugar)
To make this chaat, start off my making the yogurt whip. The mixed yogurt needs to sit for about 5 minutes for the flavor to develop.
Place the yogurt, a scant pinch of salt and 1 tsp sugar and stir together to combine. Taste and add more sugar if you need to. You are looking for a slightly tangy, slightly sweet taste with a faint hint of saltiness as well. If your yogurt is not too tart, start with 1/2 tsp sugar and add more if needed. Set the bowl aside while you assemble the chaat.
Place your puris on your serving plate.
(These puris can be made at home. I haven’t tried making them yet. For now, I use the store bought version. I get mine in packets that look like the one below).
Over the puris, arrange the mashed chickpeas in a layer. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the chickpeas layer but here’s one of the boiled potato slices. The trick here too is to not overload the puris. They will get difficult to manage.
Top that with the chopped onion. Use as much or as little as you like. But make sure you use some.
Top this with some chopped tomato.
Now add your green mint chutney. I would start of with small quantities of this as this is on the spicy side.
Now you add the Date and Tamarind Chutney. This is the sweet and tangy stuff, so feel free to add some.
At this stage, add a dollop of the whipped yogurt on each puri. I like a little extra yogurt on mine, but go with what you think you’d enjoy.
The next layer uses sev. Sev is basically little fried crispy noodles made out of chickpea flour. Again, this can be made at home, but I haven’t tried that yet. I simply use a store bought packet.
Add a layer of the sev to the puris.
It’s almost done. But there are a couple of flourishes that will take this treat to a whole new level. Sprinkle the puris with a pinch of chaat masala / amchur powder. Use this sparingly as a little goes a long way. Lastly garnish with some freshly chopped coriander.
There is only one way to eat these puris. You get a whole puri with its toppings in your mouth at one go.