Think Kancheepuram and the first thing that comes to your mind is the beauty of the Kancheepuram / Kanjivaram sarees. These are an absolute must at most South Indian weddings, especially Tamilian ones.
Last year, I was with my mother-in-law, shopping in Kancheepuram for my brother-in-law's wedding. The main road, called Gandhi street I think, is lined with Kanjeevaram saree stores and there are some small stores that specialize in silk dhotis for men as well. We were there on an auspicious day, to buy the 'muhurtam' saree for the bride.
It was tiring just watching so many many yards of beautiful woven sarees in so many vibrant colours. We stopped for some tea and idlis at a fairly popular restaurant there and shockingly, they did not have kancheepuram idlis ! I was really disppointed.
A slight twist on the regular rice idlis, these Kancheepuram idlis have it all spiced up ! This one is from Chandra Padmanabhan's book - Southern Flavours
Her family is from Kancheepuram, and this a century old recipe so I'm guessing, its as authentic as it gets.
I have had a variation that also has soaked chana dal in it, but this recipe did not have it. Makes for a nice breakfast with some coconut chutney
Recipe Source: Chandra Padmanabhan's Southern Flavours
What you need -
1.5 cups parboiled rice / idli rice
1 cup urad dal
1/2 tsp asafoetida / hing
1 tsp pepper corns coarsely crushed
1" piece ginger, cut into tiny pieces (or 1.5 tsp dried ginger / saunth powder)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp salt
a few curry leaves
1 tsp ghee
1 tsp oil
What you do with it -
Wash the rice and urad dal and soak it for 2 hours
Drain and grind to make a coarse batter gradually adding 1/2 to 1 cup water. (The book says 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 cups water, which I felt was too much)
Transfer to a large container. Mix in the asafoetida powder, pepper corns, ginger and cumin seeds. Allow it to ferment for 12-15 hours. (The book says 24 hours, which again, with the heat in my part of the world, would have been way too much)
Heat oil and ghee, add curry leaves and allow to splutter
Add this along with the salt, to the batter just before making the idli
Smear oil on a flat round vessel or use the dhokla plates and pour in the batter. Place in an idli steamer / dhokla steamer / pressure cooker without weight and allow it to steam for 20 mins
Turn it over onto a plate and cut into wedges and serve with coconut chutney
The tip in the book says it must not be made in the usual performated idli mould. This plate works best.