All my dosa batter is depleted. For me, that's a very profound state of affairs. I bank on a Tupperware container full of batter, ground on Sunday, to last breakfast for the entire week.
Of course, the batter manifests itself on the breakfast table in various avatars. On day one and two, it's soft, fluffy idlis with coconut chutney or milagai podi (gun powder). The third and forth days, you have crisp dosas with tomato masiyal (recipe via another post) or ginger/groundnut chutney.
By the fifth/sixth day, the in-laws are politely inquiring about the age of the batter while the kids are complaining vociferously. So out comes the batter with finely chopped onion as thick, crisp oothappam or crisp-outside-soft-inside kuzhi paniyaaram!! By day seven, the batter has sunk to the nadir of the Tupperware, so the masking is not worth the trouble. At this juncture, I add the leftover to freshly ground adai or pesarattu batter. Not a drop wasted!
Well, coming back to today's issue, it was just Thursday and the idli/dosa batter, a South Indian woman's best friend, was already depleted, thanks to a hungry bunch of guests yesterday night. Time-pressed that I was, I couldn't grind fresh batter, so I decided to make Kancheepuram idli for tomorrow's breakfast. It's easy to prepare and great to eat.
I'm not sure if these idlis originated in Kanchipuram, but I'm told it's offered as neivedyam for the Varadarajaperumal deity there.
Recipe for Kancheepuram idli:
Raw rice: 1 cup
Par-boiled rice: 1 cup
(alternately, you can take 2 cups of raw rice)
Urad dal - 1 cup
Curds - 1/2 cup
Masala: Black pepper, cumin seeds, 1-inch ginger piece, 1 sprig curry leaves and salt to taste
Mustard, black gram and bengal gram for seasoning.
Gingelly oil - about 5 teaspoons
Soak the urad dal and rice separately for about two hours. Grind the urad dal (I use a food processor or mixie, since the quantity is small and doesn't require the wet grinder) to a fine paste. This takes about 3 minutes. Remove this and then grind the rice to a coarse paste, which takes about 3 minutes again. Do not add salt at this stage, as it tends to dilute the batter. Mix the ground urad dal and rice and store.
After about 8 hours, your Kancheepuram idli batter is ready. Grind the black pepper, cumin seeds, ginger, curry leaves and salt to a coarse powder. Heat the gingelly oil and add mustard. When it sputters, add the black gram and bengal gram and toss till golden brown. Now switch off the stove and immediately add the ground masala powder and turn till it gives off a nice flavor. Add this to the batter with the curds.
The seasoning requires at least 5 teaspoons of gingelly oil. This is essential to obtain the genuine taste of this idli.
Here comes the interesting part. Kancheepuram idli typically comes in odd shapes. For want of other options, you can cook it in your regular idli mold. Else, pour the batter to about an inch thickness in a round vessel and cook (in a cooker/microwave/electric cooker). This takes about 20 minutes. On removing, you can cut it into various shapes.
I have purchased a cute Kancheepuram idli mold from Ramanathan's in Chennai. It has six small cups arranged on a plate. This can be cooked in an idli cooker or a regular cooker. This takes about 10 minutes.
Serve hot with chutney/gun powder. This idli tastes just as good when it's not warm. Also, it doesn't spoil for at least 48 hours. So it's ideal travel food. Apart from being a godsend when your dosa batter is depleted, of course.