The legacy of modern ‘Idli’ -Indians’ most preferred breakfast delicacy is well mentioned in Shivakotiacharya’s ‘Vaddaradhane’, in Kannada language work in 920 CE – Idli, then was named as “Iddalige”, and the culinary preparation was mainly from a Black-Gram batter. Even in ‘Lokopakara’ (c. 1025 CE) -Kannada encyclopaedia’s author Chavundaraya elaborated Idli’s recipe preparation by soaking Black-Gram in Butter-Milk, and then grind it to a fine paste, where Curd’s clear water and spices are added later. In 1130 CE, the Western-Southern India’s King Chalukya and scholar Someshwara III (the province is now called, State of Karnataka), also has described Idli as ‘iḍḍarikā’ in their ‘Manasollasa’ encyclopaedia in Sanskrit language. Then in 1235 CE, in Karnataka Idli which is not symbolic of a rice base is referred as, ‘light, like coins of high value’ – in modern days in Karnataka, this ancient recipe of Idli is still followed and the delicacy out of this preparation is called, ‘uddina idli’.
Here, one connection needs to be mentioned of 1520 CE Gujarati work ‘Varnaka Samuccaya’, has noting of native adaptation ‘idada’, one version of Dhokla/Dhokra – similar preparation method of over-night soaking of de-husked Black lentils and Rice – grind it to paste and then steamed.
Well, back in 17th century the Tamil work too mentions Idli as Itali, and according to media reports in the year 2015 Chennai based Idli caterer Eniyavan made 1,328 varieties of Idli to commemorate the date 30th March every year to be celebrated as “World Idli Day”, worldwide, for this he made a giant jumbo-Idli weighing forty-four kilograms, and that was cut by a bureaucrat to seal the deal and declare the date 30th March as ‘World Idli Day’.
Culturally, there are six vivid varieties of Idli, but inquisitive food innovations has a much wider scope of exploring this culinary art -Eniyavan, the ‘World Idli Day’ initiator only has invented and now serves 2547 types of Idli.
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The culinary art of making plain Idli is: Soaking four-parts of rice and one-part of whole white lentils (de-husked black-gram) separately for at least four-to-six hours, or ideally over-night (parboiled rice can reduce the soaking time considerably) -fenugreek seeds are added in lentil soaking. Here fenugreek seeds works wonders, it reduces stomach-bloating caused by lentils, and helps in good batter fermentation. Then separately soaked rice is coarsely ground, and lentils are ground to a fine paste – then both these are mixed well and left overnight for fermentation process. The fermentation process increases the volume of batter by almost double -and, that is the mark of a good fermentation process. And then finally for bouncy and fluffy Idli, this well-fermented batter is poured into oil or butter greased perforated Idli-moulds of Idli-tray – these Idli-trays are then placed in a boiling-water-steamer and steamed for 15-25 minutes.
And summing up with this feature, Idli can be served with six to seven varieties of chutneys and hot-piping sambhar. And today, this light-weight healthy morning breakfast delicacy ‘Idli’ has now become the staple food across India -and globally San Francisco, London and New Jersey have been found to be the top idli ordering cities.
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