Wednesday, 4 April 2012


One incident in my life opened my mind to new foods, foods that I wasn't exposed to and also to creating new innovative dishes and serving them in a way that they would not usually be served.
It is invariably the most  hilarious experience of my cooking life. Of course not at that time, but later I found myself laughing over the incident.
I have to tell you that I was a kid myself, at the time. Everything was a competition.

My husband and I had a visitor who, just like my husband hailed from Tamil Nadu- a southern state of the Indian peninsula, who also happened to be my husband's boss at work. Every time he visited he was supposed to carry my favourite vegetables for me as they were unavailable in the state of Kerala where we were stationed at the time. In return I promised him the tastiest food he could ever get. This time I chose to make dosas, to show him that I, in spite of hailing from a Northern state could make great Dosas (tastiest crepes of the south).

Well, it didn't turn out to be so.

As soon as I put the batter on the griddle it crinkled up and looked like my favourite fabric, Chiffon.
Four chiffon dosas later I was in tears and ran to my husband for help. Creative man that he is, he made me sit down and went into the kitchen and piled the accompaniments onto a slice of bread along with the chiffon dosa, topped it with another slice, grilled the sandwich and served it with tomato ketchup.
With every bite the boss kept saying,"I love it, I know the taste but cannot place it. What is this?" All I told him was that it was a secret. Today I am letting out that secret.

I have created a new recipe that marries the north and the south.
Kidney beans are the second most favourite of most children in the Northern states of India, after cottage cheese. Rice is a staple in the Southern states as it grows in the coastal region. A staple dish of the South, idli, has probably never been made with kidney beans.
I have used these beans to create a filling tea-time snack, a complete meal for hungry children and adults.

steamed kidney bean and rice cakes

Kidney beans are rich in protein, soluble fibre, iron, potassium, thiamine, folic acid, vitamin B6, complex carbohydrates and others. Soluble fiber can help in lowering blood cholesterol.
They also contain a toxin that is responsible for bean poisoning. Soaking the bean overnight and cooking it for 10 minutes can deactivate the toxin.
Fermenting improves the nutritive values in the beans by removing the toxins. Yeast controls the offending sugars in the beans that produce gas during their digestion process.
Always discard the soaking liquid and wash the beans 4 to 5 times before using them.
Do not eat them raw.


.Kidney beans (rajma)....................................1 cup(raw)
.Black gram dal, split (urad dal, skinless).........1/2 cup
.Parboiled rice grits(idli rava)..........................2 1/2 cups*
.Flattened Rice(Poha)....................................1/2 cup taste
.Water...........................................................2 cups or as needed

.Wash Kidney beans and soak them in 3 cups of water, overnight or for 6 to 8  hours.
.Wash black gram dal(urad dal) and soak in 2 cups of water, overnight or for 6 to 8 hours.
.Soak parboiled rice grits in 5 cups of water, overnight or for 6 to 8 hours.

.Throw away the water used for soaking the beans and the black gram dal.
.Gently remove the excess water from the soaking parboiled rice grits, without disturbing the settled grits.

.In a blender grind the black gram dal into a fine paste till buttery in texture. Put in a large bowl and set
.Grind the soaked kidney beans finely and add the flattened rice and grind together till it is a fine paste.
.Add to the black gram dal.
.Grind the parboiled rice grits till about 1/4th of their original size.

.Add a little water to facilitate the grinding process.

.Mix all the pastes together, add salt and water to get the desired pouring consistency of the batter.
.Mix well to aerate the batter.
.Cover tightly with a cling film. Cover with a lid.
.Keep in a dark, warm and well-insulated place for 10 to 12 hours to ferment.

How to proceed:
.Take a well-oiled idli mould.
.Dipping right to the bottom of the prepared mixture*, put ladleful of the mixture into each mould till
 each is 3/4ths full.
.Stack the mould plates.
.Heat water about 1 inch high in the steamer and place the mould stack in it taking care to see that the water
 level is below the bottom plate.
.Steam the kidney bean and rice cakes in a steamer or a pressure cooker(without the whistle) for 12
 minutes(after the water in the steamer starts a rolling boil) on low to medium heat.
.De-mould these beautiful, airy and soft idlis (using a spoon)and serve piping hot with Coconut Chutney or
 the spicy red chili mix(molagapodi), plain yogurt or just with a dollop of unsalted butter or drizzle with chili
steamed kidney bean and rice cakes

*Parboiled rice is partially boiled rice and it's grits are available in Indian speciality stores and are called
 Idli Rava. If not available you can use parboiled rice. Grinding this takes a little longer .
.Use 1/3rd of the quantity to make steamed cakes.
.Refrigerate the mixture well covered with cling film. Use 1/3rd of the remaining mixture to make crepes and
 the remaining batter to make spicy pancakes.(recipes to follow soon).
*The rice being heavy settles down at the bottom of the container, hence to get it into the ladle dip it right
 down to the bottom.
.Do not stir the mixture till you have finished making the steamed cakes as that will destroy the air pockets
 and give you dense steamed cakes.
.In case you don't have a mould don't fret just get creative and use well-oiled metal cookie cutters in a
 plate and keep it on a raised surface like an over-turned bowl inside the steamer.
.You can also boil the soaked beans for 10 minutes and cool them before grinding, to be absolutely safe.


  1. Any specific reason as to why the water it is soaked in should be thrown?

    1. Dear CL,
      The soaking liquid should be discarded as it contains a high concentration of the flatulence causing sugars.

  2. These speckled rice cakes are worth a try. With the fluffiness of the 'virgin' rice cakes and the hearty texture thanks to the addition of the kidney beans these make an anytime meal. The kidney beans add an interesting twist to these traditional rice cakes or idlis as they are known in India, and will surely get a thumbs up from anyone, even the most traditional housewife who makes these idlis for her family:)

    1. Thank you so much Minal for such a lovely review. You have just ensured a permanent place on my dining table.I do hope you try making them and let me know if the recipe is easy to follow.I do think it is time for the most traditional housewife to add the welcome twist and surprise her family with this one.