Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Idli steamer

An idli (or iddly) is a steamed rice & lentil cake from India. I first tasted one at a New York City restaurant called Madras Woodlands (it's now in the suburbs, on Long Island) that specialized in vegetarian food from south India. Idlis are wonderful, light discs that are somewhat like airy pancakes. They are always served with a fresh chutney, like coconut or cilantro.

To make idli, you need a special steaming rack that resembles a multistory egg poacher. A batter made of ground uncooked rice and lentils, often seasoned with Indian spices, is poured into the indentations in the idli steamer and it's placed in a covered pot of boiling water to cook.

Now, I'm telling you all of this not because I think that you're going to run out and learn how to make idli (though it might be fun), but because this neat piece of equipment ($30 from indiaplaza.com) can also be used to make single-serving frittatas, tortillas (Spanish frittatas) or eggah (Middle Eastern frittatas), which I think would make the neatest appetizers or brunch dish. And speaking of brunch, I've no doubt the idli steamer can be also used as an egg poacher.

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