The fluffy idli is known by many interesting names. The peculiar nomenclature has got nothing to do with the scent of idli, it is not floral, instead, it has the fragrance of nice fermented food.
Remember last year, when a British man tried to call idlis ‘bland’ how the desi Twiterrati erupted in support of their beloved breakfast. Even author and politician Shashi Tharoor could not help but join the Twitter war. Turns out the British man was actually a fan of Tharoor, and also got a recommendation from him to try Idli podi. Idli is rice or lentil-based steamed cake. They are also made with a fermented batter which gives them an inimitable tang.
Typically paired with sambhar and chutney, idli are of many shapes, sizes and colours, like Kanchipuram, Thatte idli , Kotte Kadabu etc. One such popular kind of idli from the Kannada cuisine is Mallige idli. This is rice-based idli, but it is much, much softer and whiter in comparison. The fluffy idli is also known by many interesting names, such as Jasmine Idli, since it is as white as the jasmine flower. Mallige is the Kannada word for jasmine. The peculiar nomenclature has got nothing to do with the scent of idli, it is not floral, instead, it has the fragrance of nice fermented food, the hot steam adds a lovely freshness to it.
Another name of the idli is Kushboo idli, after the popular actress Kushboo, who was apparently so fair that the idli was supposedly named after her. Many people who find the rationale problematic choose to refer to the idli as Mallige or Jasmine idli only.
To make mallige idli, you have to ensure that you make a perfectly fermented batter, so you have to invest adequate time. Instant batters do not work here, you have to keep them to ferment overnight or at least 8-10 hours. The process itself is very easy. Once you have the batter ready, all you have to do is pour it into greased moulds and steam it till it is done. There are many ways to make the idlis softer, one of the effective ways is to take idli rice, an alternative option would be sona masuri rice. Poha or flattened rice flakes and puffed rice are also sometimes soaked and used in the batter. Grind the soaked rice, dal and poha separately and then combine the batter. The batter should be thick and smooth, almost of a ribbony consistency. It should not be too thick and sticky too, and it certainly cannot be watery. Ferment in a warm and dry place for at least 8-10 hours. Serve the idlis hot with chutney or sambhar and chomp away.