Who does not like hot, fluffy idlis in the morning? My kids love idlis. Idlis are revered as one of the most healthy breakfast options in the world. Whoever thought of fermenting rice with urad lentils and then steaming it, is an awesome mad genius!!! My mother’s generation had the whole idli, dosa batter planning and making system down to a T. Fast forward to this generation, there are many of us who would rather dunk cereal in a bowl of milk than struggle with idli batter. But, what if I gave you data that could help you plan ahead?
How much time do you need to make idlis? Are there any shortcuts to reduce the standard time? Is the dhokla maker faster in making idlis than a traditional idli maker? Wait a minute, this calls for a time study (me – rushing, delightedly to find my stopwatch, you – eyeroll, I know, I know!!)
[If you are not an Indian, just to catch you up to speed – idlis and dhoklas are local names for soft, fluffy steamed indian breads that are healthy and delicious. Recipes for making the batter are available throughout the internet and I will encourage you to explore some of the very popular ones here and here. You can also buy readymade batter, my favorite brand right now is Shasta batter, typically available in the refrigerated section of an Indian grocery store.]
Idlis are about 40 calories each. Even 4 idlis with a sizeable amount of chutney would limit your breakfast calories to 300 calories or less. Compare it to a sandwich where each bread slice coming in between 90-120 calories, you can eat 3 idlis instead of 1 slice of bread and feel fuller. The water content of the dish plays a huge role in this as well.
Breakfast process breakdown
Step 1 – Applying oil and loading the batter takes roughly about a minute.
Step 2 – Steam the batter for about 10 minutes. The timing may vary from 7 – 15 minutes depending on the size of your idlis. About 10 minutes is the average
Step 3 – Rest the idlis for 3 minutes. This is an important step. If you don’t rest them, they will become very gooey and not hold their shape very well.
Step 4 – Unloading the idlis are very easy, once you get the hang of it. A good tip, is to have a cup of water near you. Dunking a spoon in the water before scooping out the idlis each time get the idlis out in one clean swoop. (Thank you Mangalam perimma for that super useful tip!!)
Results of Idli Time Studies
|Process||Using Idli maker||Using Dokla maker|
|Oiling the plates and loading the batter||1:06min||56 sec|
|Steaming||10 min||10 min|
|Resting the hot product||3 min||3 min|
|Unloading the product||2 min||3 min|
|Total time||16 min 06 sec||16 min 56 sec|
Want Breakfast @ 8:00? – Start step 1 at 7:35 a.m.
You could use the above time studies to plan your breakfast preparation time. Given that, each batch of cooking idlis takes about 16 min, a double batch for a family of four will take about 35 min (throw in 3 min buffer time) start to finish time.
Another important tip!! – You could use the bulk of the inactive time of 13 minutes (while idlis are steaming + resting) to prepare your side dishes for the idlis. So, set the idlis in the cooker and then start prepping for chutneys. I plan to upload chutney recipes with prep times in the near future. Rest assured most chutneys take less than 10 minutes to prepare.
Does using a dhokla maker cut down your time?
I was hoping that the batch process of dhokla maker would be faster than the idli maker. However, given the time taken to cut the product into squares and then unload them, the dhokla maker took about 50 sec longer than the idli maker. I also have to add that there is a hidden preference in all of us for the ‘tried and tested’. Idlis seem to make more sense if they are concave shaped discs. A square idli, while perfectly delicious, seemed a bit odd to the South Indian in me. I am sure, a Gujarati, would feel weird about a concave shaped dhokla and would be perfectly justified with that feeling.
However, given the flatter nature of the square idlis, I have a new hypothesis – the leftover square idlis would make a wonderful stir fry compared to the disc shaped ones. I plan on goofing around with that idea and encourage my fellow readers to tinker around as well.
I hope you will be encouraged to try idlis on a weekday morning. While 35 minutes prep is hard on a day you are meeting with the company VP, it is certainly doable on a day, say, when your boss is on vacation:). Idlis also make for a great lunch box idea. You can dip idlis in anything – spicy sauces or chutneys for adults, peanut butter or chocolate sauces for kids. However, since idlis are very low in fat, you are likely to get hungry quickly unless you round out the meal with healthy fat and fiber combination.
Do you love idlis? Holler your thoughts!!