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Sunday, July 11, 2021

A - Z Idli Series ~ N for Navadhanya Idli


I had planned another traditional idli recipe from Karnataka for today but could not source an ingredient needed for it and had to discard the idea. I then went ahead and as an experiment, prepared these idlis using navadhanya. To be honest, the idea would never have occurred to me if not for this series and these protein rich idlis turned out soft and fluffy. Navadhanya refers to the nine grains used in Hindu religious rituals - Bengal gram, black gram, black sesame seeds, chickpeas, green gram, horse gram, rice, wheat, and white colored beans (I used black eyed peas for it). 

These idlis are simple to make though advanced planning is needed as the ingredients need to be soaked, ground and fermented before steaming the batter in the idli moulds. Though the process sounds tedious, the steps are quite simple and doesn't need much of one's energy. The idlis can be made in advance and can be refrigerated or even frozen to have a healthy breakfast ready in the morning rush hours with a simple step of reheating them in a microwave.

Navadhanya idli turned out fluffy with a subtle flavor to them, because of the wheat used in the recipe. These navdhanya idlis served with chutney and / or sambhar  make a filling breakfast or dinner option as they are super healthy, nutritious and vegan. Ours were served with peanut chutney and erra karam, Andhra style onion chutney.
I used navadhanya as I mentioned above but some ingredients may be substituted or omitted from the recipe as per preference. Brown rice can also be replaced with idli rice. Wheat can be completely omitted from the recipe as well if it's flavor in the idli is not to your taste. Whole black gram can be replaced with skinned variety as it needs only a couple of hours of soaking and also doesn't need thorough rinsing to get rid off the skins. Omitting one or two beans that are not on hand works too.

Some of the beans used here like chickpeas, black gram and horse gram need to be soaked overnight or for at least 8 hours. It is hard to sort out and soak the ingredients individually according to their soaking periods and therefore I soaked rice, wheat, Bengal gram, green gram, black eyed peas, chickpeas and horse gram in water in one container and black gram in another bowl. The black gram needs some thorough rinsing to get rid off the skins as much as possible and so they were soaked separately.

I soaked the ingredients overnight and ground the batter in the morning. The batter fermented quickly, in about 7 hours which never happens with my regular idli batter. It maybe partly because of the quantity of the beans used in the recipe and partly because of the weather the day I made these idlis, at 80 deg F / 27 deg C. I would recommend to grind the batter in the morning to keep an eye on the fermentation process. I am not sure but guessing that too much fermentation may cause the batter to start smelling foul because of the beans used here.

Ingredients: (Yield - 28 idlis)
1 cup idli rice 
1/2 cup brown rice
1/4 cup wheat kernels
1/2 cup + a handful of black gram *
6 tbsp. each - Bengal gram, green gram, black eyed peas, chickpeas, and horse gram **
Toasted black sesame seeds as needed
Salt to taste (I used about 2.5 tsp. salt.)
Water to grind the ingredients
* I used whole black gram but it can be substituted with skinned black gram which takes only about 2 hours of soaking. 
** Some of the ingredients used here like black gram, chickpeas, horse gram need overnight or about 8 hours of soaking.

1. Add idli rice, brown rice, wheat, Bengal gram, green gram, black eyed peas, chickpeas and horse gram to a container. Rinse them with water twice and drain. Add enough water and soak them overnight or for at least 8 - 10 hours.  
* Add black gram to another bowl and rinse. Drain and add water to the bowl and soak it also overnight or for at least 8 hours. (Or skinned black gram can be substituted which needs soaking for only a couple of hours.)
After the soaking, drain the water from the rice - lentil container and rinse again twice with water and keep aside. However the black gram needs some thorough rinsing to get rid off the skins as much as possible. I used whole black gram since it is used in navdhanya but skinned black gram can be substituted to skip the rinsing part.
2. Add all the soaked and drained ingredients to a grinder. Grind them adding salt and enough water into a smooth and thick batter. If using a mixer then grind them in 2 batches. (The salt can be added just before making idlis if living in a warm climate. I add it while grinding since I live in a cold climate and the batter takes longer to ferment.)
* Transfer the batter to a container large enough to allow the batter to raise during fermentation. Cover the container and allow it to ferment for about 7 - 8 hours. (It took me about 7 hours to ferment the batter when the temperature was about 80 deg F / 27 deg C and it may take longer in  cold climate. Leaving the batter out after fermentation may turn smelly.)
3. The fermented batter looks like above in the picture 3. Refrigerate the batter if not using immediately and use within a couple of days. Leave the refrigerated batter on the counter for a couple of hours before using.
* Heat about 2 cups of water in a idli cooker base or a idli cooker or a steamer on medium heat. 
4. Grease the idli moulds with ghee / oil and sprinkle black sesame seeds over them.
5. Gently stir the batter a couple of times with a ladle. Pour the batter into the idli moulds carefully without spilling.
6. Place the idli stand in the prepared cooker / steamer and close the lid. Don't use the valve for the lid if using a pressure cooker.
Steam the idlis on low heat setting for about 20 - 25 minutes or until done. (The idlis should not stick when touched with moist fingers.) Check the water level in the steamer base and add extra if needed.
7. Wait for about 10 minutes and then remove the idlis from idli stand. Remove the idlis by running a spoon around the edges.

Serving the idlis: 
* Drizzle melted ghee over the idlis and serve them with a chutney, and sambhar if preferred. Mine were served with peanut chutney and erra karam / Andhra style onion chutney.

What to do with leftover idlis:
1. Refrigerate the left over idlis and use in a day or two. 
2. Or they can be cooled down immediately after preparation and frozen to use later. Nuke them in a microwave, covered and enjoy hot, piping idlis when needed. 
This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon and check the link to find out what other marathoners are cooking.


Harini R said...

That is a brilliant idea, Suma. Our priest once told us to make attu with the navadhanyalu after they are used in Sri Satyanarayana puja.

Srivalli said...

I love those sesame seeds on top...and the recipe is so healthy too Suma..

Sowmya :) said...

That is an awesome idea Suma! Should be a very nutritious and delicious breakfast! Bookmarking this

Radha said...

Amazing idea and this is a very healthy one too. I am bookmarking your recipe.