Mini Masala Idli is an alternate fun way to enjoy idli. These steamed cakes are seasoned with molagapudi/gunpowder & make a delicious vegan appetizer/snack.
When it comes to eating Idli/Dosa, I am a true South Indian. I can eat it everyday. In fact when I was growing up, my friends felt that since we are South Indians, we practically ate this everyday! Of course we didn’t. However, these dishes did make frequent appearances on our menu. Since school days, we all friends used to share our lunch boxes with each other. The trend continued in college as well. Being a very cosmopolitan group, our tiffins mostly consisted of specialty food from different Indian regions. While I always looked forward to my Gujarati and Punjabi friend’s lunch boxes, they looked forward to mine. While I would gorge upon the theplas, dhoklas and chole, they would crave for the Masala Idli or Dosas in my lunch box. While we have many stories over our lunchboxes, there is one incident that is still fresh in my mind even though it happened many many years ago.
Lunch break was still few hours away. My friends knew that I had got Idlis for lunch that day. While we were still in class and the lecture was on, my friend nudged me to pass my lunch box as she was very hungry. I quietly passed it behind. When I got it back in just a few minutes, the box was strangely very light. I instantly knew that the box was empty. I was kind of upset that she ate it all. Only at lunch break I got to know that my lunch box was passed around the class and many had relished it. We all had a hearty laugh and of course my friends made sure I didn’t go hungry that day.Such was the craze among my friends, for my mom’s masala idli. Over time, she realized that she needed to pack more idlis in my lunchbox. But they were never enough. No matter how many idlis I took to college in my lunchbox, I would still get 1-2 idlis from it!
Even when our college gang went on weekend trips to Igatpuri we used to carry food with us. My Punjabi friend would get chole puri, my other Gujju friends would get all varieties of snacks (some even unheard of) and I was supposed to get Masala Idli. As usual, they would all be gone in a jiffy. Our college memories and special foods items like these are the basis of our cohesive bond and we fondly remember those days even today. Idli is nothing but steamed cakes made with fermented batter of rice and lentils. It is a very nutritious breakfast or snack that is naturally vegan too. Technically, it’s an oil free recipe since the method of cooking is steaming. Made with just very few ingredients, it’s naturally soft and fluffy plus it is very easy to digest. That is why it is fit for people across all ages. Now are you wondering what is Masala Idli/Podi Idli/Tadka Idli?
Well, South Indians make a spice powder called Mulagapudi which means chilly powder in literal sense. But this powder is different. Its made by grinding lentils, sesame seeds and dried red chillies. It can be stored for months and is served with any variety of Idli/Dosa. You need to mix the powder with sesame oil and then serve. Mini Masala Idli is made using this spice powder. Making Idli is the most simplest snack ever. Many get intimidated by the thought of making idli like a South Indian, but trust me, this recipe that I am about to share with you is fool-proof and you can follow it blindly. My mom and MIL have been following this recipe since ever and it never fails. The first step is to make the idli batter. Soak urad dal for at-least 2 hours. Add methi/fenugreek seeds in it. In another bowl, soak Idli Rava for the same amount of time. Add just enough water for the rava to be submerged.
Grind them both together along with salt and little water. Cover the pan and leave the batter to ferment overnight in a warm place. The batter should rise and should be of pouring consistency resembling a pancake batter. Now take the mini idli molds, spray cooking oil over it and pour a spoonful of batter into all the molds. Steam in Idli cooker for 8-10 minutes. Once its done, wait for the steam to escape. Open the cooker and scoop out the mini idlis out of the molds. The idlis would be soft and fluffy. Keep them aside. In a pan, heat sesame oil. Temper mustard seeds and urad dal and fry till the lentils turn golden. Then add and fry the curry leaves and chopped cilantro for 15 seconds. Next add Mulagapudi and fry for a minute. Add the mini idlis and salt, mix it all well. Ensure that the masala coats the idlis well. Sprinkle cilantro to garnish. Serve immediately. You can also serve them in skewers as appetizers.
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- Idli cooker
To make Idli batter
- 2 cups idli rava
- 1 cup urad dal
- 1 tsp methi/fenugreek seeds
- water as required
To make Mini Masala Idli
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp urad dal
- 4-5 curry leaves
- 2-3 tbsp milagai pudi
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
To make Idli batter
- Soak urad dal for at-least 2 hours. Add methi/fenugreek seeds in it.
- In another bowl, soak Idli Rava for the same amount of time. Add just enough water for the rava to be submerged.
- Grind them both together along with salt and little water.
- Cover the pan and leave the batter to ferment overnight in a warm place. The batter should rise and should be of pouring consistency resembling a pancake batter.
- Now take the mini idli molds, spray cooking oil over it and pour a spoonful of batter into all the molds.
- Steam in Idli cooker for 8-10 minutes. Once its done, wait for the steam to escape. Open the cooker and scoop out the mini idlis out of the molds.
To make Mini Masala Idli
- In a pan, heat sesame oil. Temper mustard seeds and urad dal and fry till the lentils turn golden.
- Then add and fry the curry leaves and half of the chopped cilantro for 15 seconds.
- Next add Mulagapudi and fry for a minute.
- Add the mini idlis and salt, mix it all well. Ensure that the masala coats the idlis well.
- Sprinkle cilantro to garnish. Serve immediately.
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Since I enjoy my South Indian food, here are some Idli variations that I have tried and loved – Healthy Green Amaranth Potato Idli | Rajgiri Potato Idli, Ragi & Kale Idli | Finger Millet & Kale Steamed Cakes, Instant Sweet Potato & Quinoa Idli/Steamed Cakes, Sweet Corn & Bulgur Wheat Mini Steamed Cakes| Idli, Steamed Quinoa Chana Dal Idli, Oil Free Bulgur Wheat Spinach Idli and South Indian Instant Beetroot Carrot Rava Idli .