Idli puranam, avatharas and side dishes.
Idli the steam cooked fermented batter made by grinding rice and black gram dhal is one of the important breakfast items in the three southern states of THamizh Nadu, Karnataka and And Andhra Pradesh ,In Kerala also it is poular but not as much as in the other states. There is a general belief that it might have originated from Tamil Nadu. I was surprised to know that the oldest references to Idli come from the state of Karnataka. In 920 AD several Kannada references refer it has been rreferred as “Iddalige by one Shivaloka charya. He says that this item was prepared from only by making Batter by grinding only Black gram dhal,In 1025 AD Lokapakara mentions that it was made by grinding Black gram Dhal soaked in curd and spices The great Chalukya king Someshwara III who ruled over parts of Karnataka includes Idli as a breakfast item in his book Manasollasa(1130 AD),This book is in Sanskrit and Idli is called as Iddarika,Here again Black gram Dhal only was used. In some parts of Karnataka this recipe is followed and the people call it Udhina Idli (Black gram dhal ) idli..
The art of steam cooking by tying a cloth over the top of vessel partially filled with water was being practiced at this time.Possibly because of this Huing Shang the Chinese pilgrim mentioned that India did not have vessels , suitable to steam cook.This practice is still practiced in South Canara district and parts of Tamil nadu. The konkanis settled in Mangalore make cups out of leaves of screw pine to make idli,. IN South Canara district they also use cups made of Jack fruit tree leaves and call it Kadubu. The Original Kanjeevaram Koil idli was made on Mandhara leaves.
The present recipe of Idli has been mentioned in the year 1250 AD. A food historian called K.T.Acharya indicates the possibility that it might have its origin in Indonesia, where steam cooked dishes are popular, There was a similar dish there Kedli (Other historians were not able to find a dish by that name in Indonesia.) Sri Acharya feels that the Chozha kings who ruled over Indonesia between 800 AD and 1200 AD might have brought it to India.
A Gujarathi work of 1520 AD menr tions about a dish called Idari or idada which is a precursor to their very popular dish Dokla, In this dish it has been clearly mentioned that Udada dhal and rice were used to mke the batter. Some parts of Gujarat was ruled by Chalukyas for some time and the Maharasghtrian kings who ruled over Gujarat later ruled THanjavur. Idli has been mentioned as separate dish in Tamil Nadu some time in the 17th centuary.
There is also a mention of early arab settlers eating a flattened batter made of powdered rice with ground coconut as side dish. This might have induced the Indians who were making Idly only with black gram to change over to the present formula.
Maha Periyava in one of his writings says that Idli originated from Iduthal (pouring) and I feel since Avi denotes cooking possibly its original name was Ittu Avi .
Grinding Dough for idli became a tedious affair and so some intelligent person invented Idli Rava which can be added to well ground Black gram dhal , thus bringing down the work involved
When south Indians settled in USA especially the cold areas they found it difficult to ferment the dough to the required level . Lot of very intelligent research was done by our ladies there. I saw one lady who used to grind the dough , h keep it in the oven with some heat for a few minutes and swiych off the oven,. Next day the Idli would have fermented in side oven to the required degree.
This in short is what I could get about the history of Idli.Here are some of the Avatharas that Idli has taken
This is a very popular form of Idli seasoned with Pepper , cumin etc , The modern recipe for this is given in http://www.padhuskitchen.com/2014/06/kanchipuram-idli-recipe-easy-south.html
I understand this Idli originated from the Kanchipuram Varadarajar Kovil idli whose recipe is given in http://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/in-search-of-kancheepuram-idli/article4698641.ece
I understand that this great dish was invented in Karnataka during second world war when it was difficult to get rice . It is purely prepared by Whest Rava . The recipe for this is given in http://www.spiceupthecurry.com/rava-idli-recipe/
With market being flooded with several instant Rava Idli recipes, , it is very easy to make Rava Idli at home,
Here some spices and powders are added to make idly more spicy. The recipe for this is given in http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/masala-idli-recipe/
The Tamil Nadu Iyengars have a wonderful and slightly different recipe for Idli . This is given in http://www.iyengarthaligai.in/2013/02/idly-maavu-idly-batter.html
5. Thatte idli
This is a very typical idli which is famous in Karnataka , Its recipe is given in https://www.smithakalluraya.com/thatte-idli-recipe-soft-idli-recipe-karnataka-special-recipes
This is the same as Idlis but several small idlis instead of big idlis are made .This is the ideal to be eaten as Sambhar Idli , as one spoon can accommodate little sambhar and one Idli. One of the avthars of this mini idli is POdi idli, whose recipe is given in http://indianhealthyrecipes.com/podi-idli-recipe/
9. Idli Uppuma
Idlis have to consumed hot and fluffy. But suppose some idlis are left over , Our housewives convert them in to Idli Uppuma . The recipe is given in http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/idli-upma-recipe-upma-recipes/
This is definitely one of the modern Avathars of Idli. It is normally very tastey and very oily . The recipe is given in http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/idli-fry-recipe-idli-recipes/
11 . Sandwhich idli
While pouring in the idli plate pour just half quantity. Cook it slightly . Either put Idli pos di or chutney over every idli and then pour the remaining idli dough in every plate. Cook it fully. You can even put Masala instead of Chutney , For such idlis no side dish is necessary. One of the variation is given in recipe http://www.tarladalal.com/Stuffed-Rava-Idli-Vegetable-Sandwich-36281r
12, Oats Idli
People are becoming more and more health conscious and they have developed in Idly using oats . The recipe is given in http://indianhealthyrecipes.com/oats-idli-recipe/
13.Sabu dhana or sago rice idly this is another great variation. The recipe for this Is http://hebbarskitchen.com/sabudana-idli-sabakki-idli-sago-idli/
14.Vermicilli Idli - This is prepared by using Semia . the recipe is given in http://nishamadhulika.com/en/419-vermicelli-idli-recipe.html
15.Noodles idli -Some people would have thought , if it can be prepared by using sEmia , why not using Noodles. Here is the recipe http://www.awesomecuisine.com/recipes/5109/noodles-idly.html
16 Chinese Idli - If all this why not Chinese idli . The recipe is given in http://www.tarladalal.com/Chinese-Idli-37464r
17.Carrot /Beetroot / Palak Idlis
Any of these vegetables grated slightly fried and put in Idli batter (Taking care to slightly more salt and then cooked.Instant carrot/Beet root/Palak instead idli powder is being marketed by a company
C.Idli side dishes
1,The most popular side dish is the Milagaui podi/ Masala powder/Kara podi /chutney powder mixed with either Gingelly oil or ghee .
The recipe for this is given in http://vegetarianindianrecipes.com/idli-podi-recipe/. The recipe for the same in Andhra style is given in http://www.sirisfood.com/2014/02/andhra-style-karappodi-recipe-idli-karam-podi-recipe-rebuild-yourself/
2.The next important side dish is chutney . Some of the recipes for chutneys are given below:-
1.Coconut chutney http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/hotel-style-coconut-chutney-recipe/
2.Onion –tomato chutney http://indianhealthyrecipes.com/onion-tomato-chutney-recipe/
3.Kerala recipe of onion tomato chutney http://malayali.me/special/easy-recipes/tomato-chutney-thakkali-chammanthi
3,Sambhar . This is normal Sambhar prepared little thin .I could find recipe for Idli sambhae in http://indianhealthyrecipes.com/idli-sambar-recipe-tiffin-sambar/
4.A very poupular side dish for Idli in mangalore hotels is simply curd.