Idli with Coconut Chutney
Idli, steamed cakes made of fermented rice and lentils, are a South Indian staple. These fluffy, soft dumplings are one of my daughter's favorite breakfast foods. She eats them with sambar, a lentil-based vegetable stew. That's one traditional way to serve them, but idli can also be eaten with yogurt, ghee and sugar, or with coconut chutney. This idli recipe is adapted from my former mother-in-law's many emails and texts over the years. As with any fermented foods, making idli is a process. The times suggested in this recipe are just guidelines; use your senses (feel, smell) and your intuition as you work through the recipe. The coconut chutney recipe is adapted from my mother's. Learn more about the story behind this recipe in the article These Fluffy Idli with Coconut Chutney Are My Daughter's Favorite Breakfast Comfort Food.
Idli rice (a short-grained parboiled rice), urad gota (whole, unsplit pulses—variously called black gram, matpe beans or lentils—that have been skinned; they're yellowish) and urad dal (split matpe beans, aka lentils) are widely available online; Laxmi and Swad are both excellent brands. Offline, Patel Brothers, a chain supermarket that has 54 locations nationwide, carries a very comprehensive range of food products from South Asia.
It's important to use filtered water for soaking the rice and lentils, as chlorine will inhibit fermentation.