We all enjoy having soft idlia for breakfast. Idli is a fermented and steamed food which is very light on the stomach and easy to digest. Generally, in hotels and restaurants, they add baking soda to make idlis soft. At AMMAGENOMICS we did some research to know if idlis are soft which are made using dals from Natural Farming. We bought organic urad dal from a farmer who does natural/traditional farming in India and bought the same amount of urad dal from the market which is non-organic. We ground the rice and urad dal to make idli batter and allowed them to ferment.
We made four kinds of idli batter.
1. Naturally farmed urad dal without removing the skin
2. Naturally farmed urad dal removing the skin
3. Market urad dal without removing the skin
4. Market urad dal removing the skin
The next day morning we found that the Naturally farmed urad dal without removing the skin idli batter had reached four times the height of the fermented batter. Second in rise was the Naturally farmed urad dal removing the skin idli batter. But the non-organic ones with and without removing the skin did not rise. The idlis were soft which were made using dals from Natural Farming than the idlis made from non-organic urad dal. Now we understand that in hotels and restaurants, they add baking soda to the idli batter to ferment as it doesn’t naturally ferment well.
The baking soda is Sodium Bicarbonate which is also naturally produced by our pancreas for digestion. If we externally add, these are going to harm our digestive system and cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome, bloating, gastric problems, acidity and indigestion.
Now which is healthier?
The batter made from naturally grown urad dal and rice which naturally ferments well is healthier. We also did PCR-based tests to check the type of bacteria that grows in this batter. We found that the good bacteria were more in the naturally fermented idli batter than in the baking soda-added idli batter and non-organic urad dal batter. The good bacteria are the ones which make the idli and dosa softer and tastier.
The reason behind this is the natural/traditional farmed urad dal which has high polyphenol content versus the other one. We are also now trying to sequence and find what are all the good bacteria that are found that make our idli and dosa tasty and healthy.