Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Kanchipuram Koil Idly

                      Not every batter that has pepper and cumin makes a "Kanchipuram idly", a false belief that prevails among people, surprisingly spread by people who have never been to kanchipuram or have never tasted the original version, it's sad that they even call it authentic! Kanchipuram happens to be another favourite week end getaway destination for chennaites, not just for the silk, but to visit the numerous temples spread across the town in every other street or so. The third and the most sought after factor in Kanchipuram is the special Idly from Varadharaja Perumal temple madapalli that is equally popular to the town's silk and temples.

Kanchipuram Idly shares a few common features with our regular Idly, like the steaming method and the fermentation of the batter, but neither the shape, method of making nor the texture of the idly is the same as our regular idlies. As a matter of fact, unless and other wise you are fed on kanchipuram idly right from your childhood, you may not even like the taste. I have seen faces frown, after the first slice of the huge, temple idly and happy to stop with that. It is an acquired taste. You'll love it if you are used to it.

 Texture wise kanchipuram idly should appear like arisi rava uppuma which should fall apart( Udhiri, udhiriyaga -  if I should say that in tamil)  and taste wise it should be sour, peppery, with a blend of flavours from the ghee, banana leaf and the mantharai leaves wrapped around the idly, the bamboo basket used to cook them in and off course the smoky smell from the wood used to cook. But when made at home, a banana leaf and a regular steamer plate is good enough to bring a similar taste and flavour. I was told that,  kanchipuram idly can be stored and consumed even after three days, though it does taste good, it becomes hard as it gets cold. Slicing the idlies and steaming them again for 5-10 minutes makes them fresh, but I would suggest to eat them up within a day or two of making.

Follow the method given below and you should be able to make the traditional kanchipuram idly in my style, something similar to the madapalli idlies. Eat them fresh and hot, you will love it. Do not try to substitute ingredients like trying to use oil for ghee, I have done that trying to make it healthy, but it is the ghee that uplifts the taste of the idly. If you are sceptical, you can easily halve the recipe and make small portion to test your taste buds.

All the pictures above feature the original Kanchipuram koil idly from the temple Madapalli, made in a special cylindrical basket steamed in a large cauldron.

Raw rice            1 cup
Urad dal            1/3 cup
Pepper               1 tbsp (  roasted and slightly crushed)
Cumin               1 tbsp (  roasted and slightly crushed)
Ghee                 2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp
Curd                 2 tbsp
Salt  about         1 1/4 -1/2 tsp
Curry leaves       30
Banana Leaf       1

All the pictures below feature my take on kanchipuram idly in my style made from my understanding of the popular idly.

Take raw rice in a mixie jar and grind it to a coarse mixture ( slightly bigger than rava ).
Rinse the rice rava thrice, add water and leave it to soak for 4-5 hours.
Rinse and soak the urad dal separately for the same time.
Drain the water from the soaked rice and keep it aside.
Grind the soaked urad dal to a coarse batter.
Add the urad dal to the rice and mix it well. Add salt and leave it to ferment for at least 15 hours. ( Do not add any water to the batter, it should be thick)
Before making the Idlies, add the crushed pepper and cumin, 2 tbsps of ghee, curd, curry leaves and mix it well.
Line a steamer plate with a banana leaf and grease the banana leaf with a little ghee.
Pour the batter onto the steamer plate, try to cover the batter with the overhanging banana leaf, close with a lid and steam cook on low-med heat for about 35 to 40 minutes.
Serve the aromatic kanchipuram idly with coconut chutney  or idly podi.
( when served hot it doesn't require any accompaniments, it is quite delicious on its own)

Do not grind the soaked rice rava, just mix with the coarsely ground urad dal batter and again do not add any water to the batter. Fermentation loosens the batter and will make it light and moreover you will be adding curd and ghee.
It's an easy recipe that doesn't require much grinding, ( use a small jar to grind the urad dal to get the right consistency)
I make the idlies, rarely using both banana leaf and mantharai leaf, but mostly using banana leaf alone, but the point is, the batter should be cooked only in banana leaf, the manatharai leaf if used, works only as a wrapper around, infusing a mild flavour to the idly.
The idlies in the picture were made using half the recipe, equivalent to 2 big regular idlies. Generally a slice or two of the kanchipuram koil idly will keep the stomach full for at least six hours. So, the given portion will serve one grown adult.
From looking at the picture you might assume that's a lot of cumin and pepper, but trust me and follow the recipe as given, for a perfect kanchipuram Idly.

                                                         Koil Idly

                                              Home made kanchipuram Idly

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Hiya all,
Finally on this day of october the 1st, 2012, I have decided to include the comment form, after a long gap of two years. But, I am going to be a bit selfish here and keep all those nice and lovely things that is said for me and only me to cherish and will be sharing any queries that requires clarifications and your experience about the food if you have tried my recipes. So, drop in a word if you have anything to say and thanks a lot for stopping by.
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