There is so much to eat other than gluten. Here,I don’t mean trying to adapt foods which were originally made using wheat flour or gluten to be specific.
When I go to any Gluten Free forum or when I meet somebody who is on a gluten free diet, for whatever their health reasons may be, the first thing I notice is that they still eat the same foods they ate before going gluten free. Just that they have found ways of making the same foods without gluten now. In this quest of eating the same food, they miss the bigger picture. They are ready to add any ingredient to get the same texture or taste or both in their food , as they had before eliminating gluten from their diet.
It is very important to understand that our systems are damaged ( for some it’s just the intestines, for some it is intestines plus nerves, for others it could be any other organ which is impacted more). We eliminate gluten from our diets to allow our systems to heal and not get further damaged . This does not mean that anything under the sun will help our systems as long as it does not contain gluten.
Here, I will copy a small portion from another post on this blog.
I like to remind my GF friends that Gluten Free is not equal to Healthy. In fact most (if not all )GF foods in the market today , whether they are ready to eat or cook or bake, if they are not naturally gluten free , are not healthy at all. In fact they are unhealthy and could even be harmful to our already sensitive systems. And anybody who is managing a difficult life without gluten is doing so for the purpose of letting their bodies heal of the damage already done.
Forgive me for repeating myself time and again. I took long time to learn this and I would be blessed if I could help somebody avoid making as many mistakes as we did.
Alright , this Naturally Gluten Free Section will include recipes which are originally gluten free and need not be adapted by replacing gluten with some other ingredient/s.
This is the first entry in Naturally Gluten Free category. It has to be something known across the length and breadth of India for it’s health benefits – Yes , none other than perfectly steamed Idlis which are soft and fluffy just like a bake , though without any external leavening agent.
Let me share what I learnt from one of my good friends in Bangalore . Janani Nachiappan I owe this to you.
- Wash the soaked dal and rice very well till the water is clear.
- Soak dal and rice in separate utensils for about 3 to 5 hours. Add fenugreek seeds to the dal if you wish to. I do not use fenugreek seeds. They help in fermentation and also render a darker color to the dosas in case you use the same batter to make dosas.
- It’s best to grind this batter in a stone wet grinder if you have one. In case you don’t have it , no worries, even a basic mixie will do. I have a phillips mixie and at times,when my grinder is out of action, I do manage with it , without any change in the end result.
- You must be thinking what is the big deal about grinding now ! Of course you all are super smart and will know how to grind well. However there are a few tips here and there which make the most difference in how your idlis turn out to be. I was lucky to learn them from somebody who makes the best Idlis ever ! Yes Jhanani, it’s again you dear :).
- You need to grind the dal first. Using your wet jar of the mixie ( in case using), grind the dal with water being added only about a spoon or two at a time. initially into the process you will be adding water every two minutes.Slowly the time duration between each addition will increase.
- Continue grinding till the dal is very smooth and fluffy. It becomes really fluffy if you avoid adding too much water in one go..
- Once the dal is done. Begin with grinding the rice. Now, there are no set rules for how the process of grinding of rice should be. You may add more water at a time , in fact you should . By the end of it the ground rice should be a bit watery and fine.
- Now this is a very important step. Mixing the ground dal and ground rice. You need to cup your hand (which ever is your main hand). And start mixing the batters in a big container as you add salt to it. The mixing will be in circular motions of your cupped hand. This needs to be done for good five to ten minutes. Your arms will also get a bit messy here. No worries. The end result will be well worth every trouble you are taking.
- Once mixed very well, check the consistency of the batter. It should still be a bit on the watery side. Not very gooey.
- Be careful to take a container which allows the batter to rise almost the double it’s original amount. So the batter before fermentation should only cover half the height of the container .Cover the container well and keep it either inside a kitchen cabinet or on the counter.
- You may need anywhere between 4 hours to 14 hours depending upon the weather conditions.
- Once the batter has risen almost double the original amount, the idly batter is ready to use. You could keep it as it is in the fridge or even better consume it immediately for the best idlis. The batter at this stage will be slightly like a soft jelly with tiny bubbles all over.
- There is not much of a science in steaming the batter to get yummy Idlis. Just a few pointers which helped me when I started making them at home every other day:
- Grease the Idly stand well .
- Using a spoon, scoop the top layer of the batter into the grooves of Idly plate . Make sure that you never stir and mix the idly batter . It should just be scooped out from the top layer.
- Use high flame throughout the steaming time.Depending upon the size of the cooker /size of idly, it may take anywhere between 6 minutes to 16 minutes. My friends from the south would generally use a muslin cloth spread over the idli plates before pouring the batter. When using that method, using low flame is helpful.
- Do not steam them for too long . They will harden . It is like over cooking your cake.
- Remove from the plate once they have cooled down a bit, using a sharp spoon or butter knife (works best for me).
- Best served with coconut chutney and sambhar.
- Stone grinder or a standadrd mixer grinder.
- Pressure cooker and Idli plates/Idli stand which fits in your pressure cooker. Or you could buy a separate idli cooker Kadai with the plates, as a set .