Do you often wonder about the small details of idli fermentation process – like should you salt the batter before or after fermentation? Does it even make a difference? Then, you have come to the right place.
So, I conducted an experiment – a sample size of 1. (This is a blog post, not a funded NIH study, after all :)!!)
I made the idli batter using the traditional method. Then I split the batter into 2 parts. Part 1 – I salted the batter. Part 2- I left it unsalted. I fermented them both and studied the results.
After fermentation, this is how they looked…
Ok, I admit…the photos don’t reveal much yet. But, look what happens when you stir the batter…
As you can see, the salted batter has better desired fermented consistency. The unsalted batter also underwent fermentation, but the quality of the batter was much better with the salted version.
I did an informal survey with all my aunts and they all salt the batter before fermentation. Almost all – add the salt in the last few minutes of grinding the rice and then mix with the ground urad dal batter, and then ferment.
Does the science back this? – Yes
One of the prominent microbes that are grown during the idli fermentation process is Leuconostoc mesenteroides. It has been published that L. mesenteroides initiates relatively rapid growth over a wide range of salt concentrations.
In simple words, what this means – is that the addition of salt does NOT inhibit the fermentation process.
On top of that, my photos seem to suggest that the salt actually results in a much more favorable batter consistency. Now this is just a sample size of 1. But, the results seem to concur with what the elders have been saying all along. So my conclusions are:
- Adding Salt does not inhibit the idli fermentation process.
- Adding salt actually results in a better batter quality than an unsalted batter.
I could have listened to my mom and other elders who tell me pretty much the same thing. But, I can never accept status quo without finding the reason behind it. Unfortunately, that’s me in a nutshell!!
Now that I have seen the results with my own eyes, I plan on salting the batter in the future :).
Share your comments and experiences with idli batter below!!