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What is an Idli cloth

An idli making cloth, also known as idli cloth or idli steaming cloth, is a type of cloth used in the preparation of idlis, a popular South Indian food item. It has been used for generations.

The cloth is made from cotton and is used to prevent the idlis from sticking to the plates during steaming.
Idlis are small, steamed cakes made from a batter of fermented rice and urad dal (split black lentils).

How to make Idli using Idli cloth?

The cloth is first washed and then rinsed thoroughly before use. The cloth is placed on the idli tray and the batter is then poured over the cloth-lined moulds and steamed until the idlis are cooked. Once done, the idli can be peeled off the cloth.



Why use Idli cloth?

If the batter is poured into an idli mould without holes and steamed, it will not become idli, but instead, it will become a steam-cooked rice cake. On the other hand, if the idli mould has big holes, the water in the batter will fall through the holes, and the idli will get stuck to the mould.

To prevent this, a wet Idli cloth is spread over the moulds before pouring the batter. The cloth not only prevents the water in the batter from dripping through the holes but also helps the steam to pass through the batter smoothly, ensuring that the idli cooks evenly.

When the idli is removed from the cloth, the layer that had contact with the cloth is peeled off. This helps the idli to retain a smooth texture.

Wash and reuse 

After use, the idli cloth is washed and dried thoroughly and can be reused for several batches of idlis. Idli cloths are an important part of the idli-making process and are widely used in South Indian households and restaurants.

Is it Better to use an Idli Cloth?

It is not necessarily better or worse than other methods, as different methods can produce idlis with different textures and flavors.

For example, some people use idli plates made of metal, which do not require the use of an idli cloth. Others use silicone or plastic moulds, which are also becoming increasingly popular. In addition, some people use banana leaves or even steaming baskets lined with muslin or cheesecloth.

Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Using an idli cloth can produce idlis that are soft and fluffy, with a slightly chewy texture. However, the cloth can be difficult to clean and maintain, and it may not last as long as other types of idli plates. Metal plates can produce a crispier crust on the outside of the idli, while silicone or plastic moulds are easy to clean and maintain, but may not produce the same traditional texture as idli cloth.

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