Thursday, June 19, 2014

Quinoa Idlis( Steamed Quinoa-Rice-Lentil Cakes)

I have been using quinoa for a year an a half now. I have a problem though. I CANNOT use it as a substitute for rice! I make salads, pilafs etc with it. Of course, my all time favorite is the Quinoa-Black Bean Salad. I absolutely love it. Funnily, I am yet to come across someone who has not liked my quinoa-black bean salad. It is a crowd pleaser each and every time! Anyways, off late I have been experimenting with it trying to use it in other food items. I recently made Quinoa pesto pasta and everybody at home loved it! I have also successfully used it in Dosas. My latest venture was making idlis with it which I must say was quite accidental! I generally make my idli/dosa batter Thursday or Friday night so that I have it for Saturday/Sunday. Recently, I had made a big batch of quinoa salad for a friend's barbecue party and had about 1/2 cup left in the bag. Now half a cup is not enough for anything... Not salads, not pilaf.Friday morning when I was soaking my Urad dal for idlis, I decided to add the half cup quinoa and take a chance! What is the worse thing that could  happen?I may not get a nice batch of idlis... in which case I would just have to improvise and make dosas out of it! Luckily, the experiment was a success and the result was soft, fluffy and light idlis! This is a great way to sneak more protein into my vegetarian children's bodies! They just love idli and dosas!

Different people make idlis differently based on how they like their idlis. Each one to their own. I like my idlis with a little bit if texture and not just a lump of steamed batter. I have just tweaked my original idli recipe to get the quinoa idlis. This is how I made them:

Servings: 6-8 ( makes about 32-36 idlis)


Urad dal: 1 cup
Quinoa: 1/2 cup
Idli rava ( rice rava): 2  1/2cups
Leftover cooked rice: 1/2 cup
Water: 1-1 1/2 cups to grind urad dal.
Salt to taste ( approximately 3/4 tsp)


Soak Urad dal and quinoa together for atleast 5-6 hours( you could do overnight).

Wash idli rava/ rice rava thoroughly and keep aside.

Blend urad dal and quinoa together in a blender adding water little at a time until it rises to 3 times the volume you started with. When almost done, add the leftover cooked rice.Make sure you give the motor of the blender some rest in between. The consistency of the ground batter should be fluffy  and light ,not runny.
Pour the batter in a big bowl/ container.

Now mix the washed idli rava into the ground batter, cover and let it sit in a warm place overnight to ferment. If living in cold region, you can keep it in the cold oven/ microwave overnight.

Next  morning add  salt to the batter and mix well.

Ensure that the batter has fermented well. You can know this when the batter has risen a little in the container. Inadequte fermentation leads to poor quality idlis.

If the batter is too thick, add a little water. The consistency of the batter should be slightly thick ( thicker than dosa batter).

Heat adequate amount of water in the idli steamer/ pressure cooker, depending  on which one you are using. Grease the idli mold with ghee/ butter, fill it with batter until 2/3 full . Place the idli mould/ mould stand in the idli steamer / pressure cooker  only when the water inside is boiling. Steam for 10 minutes on medium- high flame. Note: if using the pressure cooker, do not put the weight/whistle on. Turn off the heat and let it cool down in the steamer for another 10 minutes before taking them out of the mold using a wide spoon.

Steaming hot  Quinoa Idlis are ready!

Serve hot with sambar/ chutney of your choice or both.
I have served with mixed vegetable sambar and dry peanut chutney.


Cooking made easy:

The urad dal to rice ratio is 1:2 for raw rice rava and 1:2.5 for parboiled rice rava. This is the ratio that has worked for me . When I added quinoa and leftover cooked rice into the batter I increased the amount of rice that I added proportionately. I increased the ratio to 1: 2.5 for raw rice rava and 1:3 for parboiled rice rava.

The urad dal when ground in a stone grinder is fluffier and lighter. The fluffier the urad dal, the lighter the idli.

You know that the idli is done( well cooked) by testing it with a toothpick. Insert a toothpick into the center of the idli. If it comes out clean, the idli is cooked well.

Once you remove the idlis, place them in a airtight container/ hot box as idlis left uncovered tend to develop a dry hard crust  on the top.

I generally make double the amount of batter than stated above as I make idli Upma or fried idlis the next day for breakfast or evening snack.

Tip for healthy living:

If you are the type of person who has dry itchy skin, gets rashes easily try going on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet for 3 weeks. It generally helps cleanse the system.


Food for thought:

It is quality rather than quantity that matters. Lucius Annaeus Seneca