About 1000 years old south Indian delicacy, idli, is now gaining popularity all over the world as a healthy breakfast. Various studies conducted by renowned institutions around the globe state in unison that idli is one of the best breakfasts as naturally fermented rice & lentil batter is used in its preparation.
So let us look into the health benefits of amazing idli:
Health Benefits of idli:
- Easily digestible: Fermented idli batter is predigested (broken down into simple compounds) by good bacteria present in it; thus steamed idli turned out to be even more light to digest. With no doubt we can serve idli to even infants, old, or sick people.
- Immunity: Since idli is prepared with fermented batter, each idli contains millions of good bacteria. Doctors here advise their patients who are on antibiotics to take idli as it helps to replenish with good bacteria that are killed along with disease causing bacteria while taking antibiotics. Apparently probiotic idli is beneficial to people whose immunity has to be improved, particularly kids.
- Nourishment: Fermentation of idli batter makes the minerals found in rice & lentils available that are otherwise unavailable. (Phytic acid found in lentils usually binds iron & zinc in it and is broken down during fermentation. This results in release of these micronutrients.) So we can enjoy the benefits of rice & lentils to the fullest. Besides these nutrients, B Vitamins & Vitamin K are also made available during fermentation process.
- Healthy gut: Probiotic idli protects us from disease causing microbes to grow in our intestines and thus making our immune system strong. Clearly healthy gut means strong immune system which in turn promotes our overall well being.
- Weight loss: Ideally we can take idli with sambar for breakfast as it has less carbs & fat but loaded with protein, vitamins & minerals. The nutritionist in our gym used to recommend us to take 2 idli with a cupful of sambar regularly for a significant weight loss and to our surprise we all find this diet very effective in weight management.
I hope these benefits motivate you try making idli at home; now let’s move onto idli making procedure :
Idli is prepared by steaming idli batter after pouring into an idli plate similar to a muffin tray. I’d also heard people baking the same batter in a muffin tray. But whatever method we follow we have to keep in mind that cooking fermented batter at high temperature will lead to loss of vital microbes in it.
- Grease idli plate with sesame oil.
- Pour idli batter into the dents and steam for 8-10 min.
- Take idli plate out of the steamer and let it stand for 2 min.
- Run a wet spoon along the edge of each idli to scoop them out one by one.
- Transfer them to a hot casserole.
- Serve hot idli with chutney and/or sambar.
Accompaniments to idli: Idli tastes tantalizingly delicious when served with suitable accompaniment(s) as shown below.
Variations: Considering idli’s health benefits we need to make it liked by everyone in the family by adapting changes without losing its nutritive values as below. (I do not like the idea of deep frying idli as served in restaurants.)
Shaped idli: Idli may be prepared in various shapes to draw the attention of kids.
Fortified idli: We may enrich idli with vegetables, greens, nuts, legumes, etc. These hearty idli are suitable for weight watchers & also for people who like to have wholesome breakfast. The key to make fortified idli appealing is to add firm & crunchy ingredients like nuts, green peas, stems of green leaf vegetables, etc.; it is better to avoid ingredients that turn mushy when steamed (like banana, etc.) as it would result in making insipid idli.
Sweet idli: We can also make healthy sweets by adding jaggery syrup (or any sweetener except honey), fruits, dry fruits, etc. into the batter. It is necessary to add sweetener little more than required to overpower sour taste of batter.
- It is a good practice to place idli plate (or bowl) filled with batter when the water inside the steamer is boiling hot and then simmer for 8-10 minutes to prevent the nutrients loss.
- It is always better to avoid using any additives (to boost the fermentation process of batter) to enjoy the benefits of idli.
- For a fluffy idli, you have to use a deep bowl (or idli plate with deep cavity) rather than shallow bowl (ie.) deeper the cavity, fluffier the idli becomes.