For a soft and fluffy idli use fresh ingredients and eat them as soon as possible.
FOR IDLI 75 MINI IDLIS
3 cups parboiled Idli rice also called Idli Pulangal Arisi
1 cup Urad dal (hulled split bengal gram thats entirely white in color)
2 teaspoons kitchen salt
FOR 2 CUPS PODI
60 grams dried red kashmiri or bedgi chillies stalks and seeds removed
100 grams Whole Urad Dal -120 grams (1/2 cup flat)
100 grams Bengal Gram/channa Dal/
1/5 teaspoon Asafoetida/Hing
90 grams Til or White Sesame seeds
8 fresh green curry leaves
3 teaspoons Ghee or vegetable oil
FOR MILAGAI PODI
In a dry skillet over medium flame toast the green curry leaves until they dry and lose water. They will crisp and begin to break. Cool on a plate.
In the same skillet dry toast the sesame seeds until lightly golden. Combine with the curry leaves on a plate and cool.
Heat 1.5 teaspoons of ghee or oil in a small skillet on medium flame. Toast urad and channa dals together 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Switch off flame, pour dals into a plate and cool. Then grind to a fine powder.
Heat remaining ghee or oil in the same skillet on medium heat and roast red chillies. A asafetida and saute 1 minute. Remove from fire, pour into a plate and cool.
Grind the curry leaves, sesame and red chillies to a fine slightly clumpy powder. Add the powdered lentils, one teaspoon of salt and continue to grind until you have a smooth powder.
Taste for salt. Cool and bottle in a dry airtight jar. Keep refrigerated in humid weather.
Wash the rice and the urad dal separately. Soak each in a bowl of water for 6 hours. The water should rise above the rice and urad lentil.
Wash both separately and drain completely
Grind rice in a food processor or rice grinder until smooth.
Add water in very small quantities to facilitate grinding.
If you add too much water the grains will slip between the blades and you will have a gritty batter. This process would take anything between 10-15 minutes depending on the quality of your grinder. Grind in stops and starts to prevent your motor from overheating.
Repeat the same process with the urad dal. Grind in batches until smooth. Add water a few tablespoons at a time. When you have a smooth paste combine with the rice batter and grind again so they are both well incorporated.
Place the smooth batter in an extra large and covered container in a slightly warm corner of the kitchen and allow the batter to double in size for 8-9 hours.
Stir in the salt and mix gently.
Preheat your steamer. Idlis cook better when the steamer is already hot. Set the water to boil if you are using a pressure cooker. Lightly oil the mini idli stands. Pour the idli batter a teaspoon at a time into the mini idli stands. Cover with a slightly damp muslin cloth. Steam as per directions. For smaller idlis possibly 10-12 minutes.
Remove stands from the steamer and gently pry loose the idlis. Brush with ghee or oil if desired. Sprinkle with podi and serve with chutney and or sambhar.