Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tengapal Rasam – Watery Soup with Coconut Milk

Tengapal Rasam – Watery Soup with Coconut Milk

Rasam is an indispensable dish in the south Indian families. Many would have savoured the delicious rasams prepared in eeya chombu . The eeya chombu is a pot made of lead. Some say it is made of tin. My brother says it is an alloy**! Eeya chombus were an integral part of a bride’s trousseau. Ladies would treasure these vessels, and pass them on through generations like family heirloom! Rasam was typically prepared in these eeya chombus using the kumti which is small iron choolha that uses charcoal fire. One should know the technique and be careful while making rasam in an eeya chombu. It is not unusual (and very expensive!) to find new comers melting the rasam pot over their gas stove! If the pot is left on the fire unattended, it can simply melt in no time!


We hear a lot about lead poisoning and other metal toxins in recent times. But it is amazing to see the old people who used to eat food cooked in brass vessels plated with kalai or lead are still leading a healthy life. The use of brass and lead vessels have certainly declined after the advent of ever silver steel vessels. These in turn have become less popular after the nonstick items and glass vessels invaded the market. With all this evolution or revolution, I still have relatives who insist on having eeya chombu rasam.

Eeya chombu or not, here is a rasam with the unique flavour of coconut milk which will surely entice any rasam lover.


TENGAPAL RASAM
Ingredients
Three extracts of coconut milk from 2 cups of freshly grated coconut as described below.
Freshly ground rasam powder - as given below
Tur dal (Red Gram Dal)- ½ cup
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Tamarind – 1 small lime sized ball
Salt – 1 ½ tsp
Curry leaves – a few.
Tomato – 1 big
Coriander leaves – a few
Ghee – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp

Method to extract coconut milk:
a) Use 2 cups of freshly grated. Grind the fresh coconut gratings in as little water as smooth as possible. Use a strainer and squeeze the mixture to extract the milk. This is first and thickest extract.
b) Add more water and grind the coconut again and extract milk the second time. Keep this more dilute second extract separately.
c) Follow the same process and extract milk the third time, this will be really dilute with hardly any coconut milk left, but this will come into use as well.
For the Rasam Powder
Ingredients
Cooking oil – 1/4tsp
Coriander seeds – 2 tsp
Bengal gram dal – 2 tsp
Red chillies – 6
Pepper – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds -1 tsp
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Method for Rasam Powder
1.Dry roast, pepper and cumin seeds.
2. Roast the rest of the ingredients in a drop of oil.
3. Make a smooth powder with all the roasted ingredients.
Method
1. Soak tamarind in water and leave it aside.
2. Pressure cook tur dal with a pinch of turmeric powder and water.
3. Extract the juice of tamarind.
4. Add the most dilute or the third extract of coconut milk to the tamarind juice.
5. Add salt and the rasam powder and boil until the raw smell disappears.
6. Add cooked dal, curry leaves and the second extract of coconut milk and boil vigorously.
7. Add chopped tomatoes.(Optional)
8. Finally, add the thickest or the first extract of coconut milk and decrease heat.
9. Add finely chopped coriander leaves and wait till the rasam foams.
10. Switch off flame before it starts boiling.
11. Season mustard seeds in a spoon of ghee.
Relish the coconut milk aroma as you slurp it down with hot rice.
Note: A thumb rule for tasty rasam is that it should never be boiled, as it spoils the flavours. It should be switched off, just as it foams rises to the top of the vessel, quite similar to milk. A tight lid should be used to immediately cover the rasam, to seal in the flavours.

This image below shows a long unused eeya chombu & a kumti, which we took out from mothers attic, to take a photo for this post. As you can see my newphews even started a small fire in the kumti! We did not actually cook using these vessels, since they have been unused for a very long time! My sister-in-law still actively uses her eeya chombu, and has sent in the photo shown above in the recipe.
** Disclaimer: The authors of this site do not claim knowing about the metallic composition of eeya chombus, and neither the impact of using eeya chombus on health! A google search on eeya chombus reveals many aruguments on what is the metallic composition of eeya chombus! Some say its lead, some say its tin, others say it an alloy. One view says it was originally tin, but unscrupulous manufacturers sold pots adultrated with lead for several years, and therefore a common and wrong notion that it is lead!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Aval Dosai - Beaten Rice Pancakes

AVAL DOSAI - BEATEN RICE PANCAKES

Pichu Pati was a cooking wizard! She could efficiently cook a feast for a hundred people without any noise or fuss. She was a very slender and short lady and her deftness and speed was unimaginable. Whenever there was a feast at home, Pichu Pati was summoned for help. It never seemed as if she was hired help for the day, as she did her job with great devotion and love for our family. She had taught mother her trade secrets and had given her many of her hit recipes as well. One such recipe is making fluffy and marvelous Aval Dosai. Mother has been preparing this dosa ever since.

During one of our picnic outings to a nearby bird sanctuary (it was not buzzing with crowds, like it is in the present days) mother prepared hot aval dosais under the shade of the tall trees on the banks of the river. Though packing up the gas stove, the batter vessel, the tava and other knick-knacks was a wee bit of work, the experience of eating dosais, as we enjoyed the beauty of the gurgling of the river and the babbling of the fledglings in the bushes, is etched indelibly in our memories.

The photo below is of the aval dosai prepared by my mother during a recent visit.


INGREDIENTS:
Rice – 4 cups
Beaten rice – 1 cup
Sour curd – 1 cup
Salt – 1 ½ tsp

METHOD:
1. Soak rice and beaten rice for half an hour.
2. Grind them into a smooth batter adding sour curd in the end.
3. Mix in the salt and leave it in a warm place to ferment.
4. It takes at least 12 to 15 hours for the batter to rise.
5. When the batter is ready for use, heat a tava and rub it evenly with a drop of cooking oil. Using a halved onion to rub oil on the tava yields good results.
7. Once the tava is heated decrease the heat and pour one ladle of batter on it.
8. Help the batter to spread into a thick round dosa without applying too much pressure.
9. Dribble a little oil around the dosa and cover it with a lid.
10. Turning over is not necessary.
11. The dosa will look like a honeycomb with its numerous holes when cooked.

Enjoy with sambar or chutney or molaga podi or a vegetable korma. Kids love it drizzled with honey. Do not forget to top it with a fresh blob of butter.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Appalam Mendhya Kozambu - Light tamarind and fenugreek gravy made with papad or poppadams

APPALAM MENDHYA KOZAMBU-
a light tamarind and fenugreek seeds gravy with Papad or Poppadams
After an elaborate Obbattina Oota and the birthday feast, we all felt that we would not be able eat anything for a week! Mother came out with one of her unusual recipes – the Appalam Mendhya Kozambu. This is a very light tamarind gravy, without any dal ,vegetables, coconut or rich masalas. Having this light Kozambu with rice and dash of ghee, was a great relief after the heavy feast.
INGREDIENTS:
Tamarind - a small lemon sized ball
Salt – 2 tsps
Sambar powder – 3 tsps
Jaggery – 1 tsp
Plain papads or appalams – 2
Sesame oil – 4 tbsps
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
Bengal gram dal – 2 tsps
Red chillies (broken)- 2
Curry leaves – a few
Rice flour – 1 tsp
METHOD:
1. Extract the tamarind juice and add water to make ½ a pint.
2. Add salt, jaggery and sambar powder.
3. Break the papads into bits (2" - 2.5") and keep aside.
4. Heat oil in a pan and add asafoetida and mustard seeds.
5. When it splutters add fenugreek seeds and then the Bengal gram dal.
6. Roast the seasoning to a golden colour and add the red chilly and the broken papad pieces.
7. When the papad gets fried add the curry leaves and the prepared tamarind juice mixture.
8. Let it boil till the raw smell subsides and a pleasant aroma arises.
9. Make a paste with rice flour and little water, and add it to the kuzambu for thickening.
Bring to a boil, and switch off the flame.

Enjoy the appalam mendhya kozambu with hot rice and of course with a dollop of ghee.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My 60th Birthday and Obbatina Oota

My 60th Birthday and Obbatina Oota

It was my birthday eve last month – my 60th birthday. Mother was narrating the story about how father had specially ordered for coconut-sized laddoos for my first birthday, and how the palace was incidentally illuminated on that evening, and how the house was bustling with relatives, and how excited they were when they remarked that the palace was illuminated for the Maharani’s (meaning myself!) birthday and the story went on and on and on. Though we had heard this story a thousand times, we listened to her with rapt attention as we gazed at the star lit sky to see if we could spot a satellite or an U.F.O, just as we did decades ago. We sat around the circular cement fish pond in the large garden, chatting, laughing and remembering those good old days. We were pulling each other’s legs and shared our stories with our next generation. The white egrets looked like a string of pearls as they flew in the dusky sky. There was a ripple in the pond as the fish swished by. A friendly owl hooted from the nearby Ashoka tree. The fragrance of the Jaji flower filled the cool breeze. Nothing had changed at my mother’s place except that father was no more, and my kid brothers had taken up the reins of the household. Though the four of us siblings have branched off into four different families, the same old pranks, and our togetherness resurfaced with the same excitement, just the way it did whenever we got together. This time we got together at mother’s place since my brothers decided to perform a mammoth homam for the welfare of the clan on my 60th birthday.

The poojas started very early in the morning. It took about an hour for the vaadyars (priests) to prepare the Homa Kundam (The altar where ghee and rice was to be offered to the deity through Agni or the Fire God), and get the other articles in place. One of them drew the Lalitha Yantram using coloured rangoli powder. Lailta is the cosmic power or the Goddess who creates, sustains and finally engulfs the universe. Yantram is a geometric diagram which represents the deity. The diagram, especially its angles, is supposed to attract positive energy. The vibrations produced by the sound of the mantras, drive away all negativity and fill the space again with positive energy. The fumes arising from the Homam purifies the home and the entire atmosphere, since specific medicinal dry twigs (Sammith) are used for the purpose. All in all Homam is said to purify and heal the body, the soul and the mind.

“OM SREE MATAYAI NAMAHA”. “OM - the seed word representing the cosmic energy… “SALUTATIONS TO THEE MOTHER “… Thus started the homam and went on and on and on till each one of the thousand and eight names of The Goddess were recited, as the vaadyars made offerings to the fire. My brothers and my husband joined them in the offering while the rest of us assisted them. Mother at 78 years, was running around with great zest and cheer. The youngsters clicked away photos and also managed to run on errands. The clanging of the vessels and the aroma of food cooking in the courtyard competed with the sound of the Mantras and the aroma of the fumes arising from the Homam.

Finally the pooja was over and all of us felt blessed. We felt even more blessed when we sat in front of rows of banana leaves awaiting the grand feast to be served. It was indeed a lavish feast , the feast being an obbattina oota! The cook served the sago payasam (a sweet porridge) first. This was followed by beans curry, ladies finger fry, sweet kosumalli, salt kosumalli, mixed vegetable koottu, cucumber pachadi, ama vadais (some vadais were even soaked in mor kuzambu), mor kuzambu, lime rice with capsicum and peas, ash gourd sambhar, sweet pongal (prasadam offered to the Goddess), a delicious rasam, papad and pickle, along with steaming hot in the center of the leaf; The special sweet of the day was Obbattu, and finally curd. The boys started an obbattu eating competition when they took ‘good care’ of each other. Some had it with ghee and the others had it with hot milk.

I remembered my mother-in –law who loved this sweet. She prepared it on all occasions as long as she lived. I used to assist her by cooking it on the tava as she patted out one after another obbattu on a banana leaf.

After returning from my mother’s place I could not resist my urge to prepare obbattu all by myself at least once. It was not a bad try and this is how I prepared it.

OBBATTU - Sweet bread filled with coconut lentil filling
Ingredients for the filling or Poornam

Bengal gram dal – 1 cup
Jaggery – ¾ cup
Fresh coconut gratings- 1 cup
Cardamom powder – 1 pinch
Method for the filling or Poornam
1. Soak dal for half an hour
2. Cook it in just enough water till tender but not mushy.
3. Throw away excess water if any left , and allow it to cool.
4. Grind dal, coconut gratings and jaggery adding the cardamom powder.
5. It will become like chapatti dough.
6. Keep this Poornam aside.


Ingredients for the Obbattu dough
Maida or plain flour – 1 to 1 ½ cups
Turmeric powder- 1 pinch
Salt – 1 pinch
Cooking oil – 3 to 4 tbsps
Method to make Obbattu dough

Mix all ingredients and knead into a dough using little water. The dough should not stick to your hands. Allow it to stand for half an hour. The more it is allowed to soak the more elastic the dough will be.
Method to make Obbattu

1. Take a lump of dough and roll it into a lemon sized ball.
2. Flatten the ball and place a ball of the sweet filling in it.
3. Bring the edges together and make a ball again so that the ball of poornam is inside the dough ball.
4. Grease a banana leaf and your fingers too.
5. Place the prepared ball on the leaf and pat it evenly on the leaf giving it a round shape as thin as possible.


6. Heat a tava and invert the banana leaf on it, peel out the raw obbattu on to the tava / pan.




7. Cook both sides on low heat until golden coloured patches appear.





My husband relished it with milk while I savored it with ghee. Bless the obbattu hang over!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tattae Idli - Plate shaped steamed rice and lentil cake

IDLI - Steamed rice and lentil cake
Idli is omnipresent in South India. Some find it difficult to understand the craze behind this unassuming white cake made of rice and lentil. But nothing like good soft white steaming idlis with a little sambar, chutney, or molagai podi with a little ghee or sesame oil, anytime, anywhere! Idli finds itself easily fitting into grand breakfast menus at festivals and weddings, as well as in the diets during convalescence . It is steam cooked, easily digestable, rich in B vitamins, and fat free (when eaten without accompaniments, of course!). Idlis are a boon to travelers carrying their meals, and have a long way to go. Its easy to handle and not at all messy!

Idli brings back some memories of our travels in the 1950s. Once, after a hectic South India tour we landed unannounced at our relative’s place in the middle of the night, as it was not safe to cross over the Dimbam ghats in the dark. Our hospitable and generous grand uncle made the neighbouring shopkeeper open the stores , and bought bread and bananas to satiate our hunger. At the crack of dawn, the ladies of the house were very glad to pack idlis for the last lap of our journey towards home. Luckily, they had ground the batter the previous day! The idlis were packed in banana leaves, which were greased and lightly heated over flame to make them pliable. The banana leaf parcel is then packed with a layer or two of newspaper, and tied with white thread. After driving for a couple of hours, father stopped by a mountain stream for breakfast. Mother opened the efficiently packed green parcel, and served the idlis on cut banana leaves that were thoughtfully kept in our basket. We hopped on to the rocks that popped out of the stream, and dangled our feet in the freezing cold water as we tucked in the luscious idlis soaked in molaga podi and gingili (seasame) oil. Those were the days when dacoits and forest brigands were unheard of. Father assured our worried mother that the pachyderms and wild animals which she was scared of, would attack only when provoked, or only when they were attacked. Father had taught us how to behave in a forest ,and we quietly enjoyed Mother Nature’s bounty listening to the sounds of the forest opening our mouths only for idlis!

Decades later, idlis continued to be a staple, and we discovered the the joy of Tattae Idli. Tattae means plate in Kannada. Idlis that are steamed in plates, rather than the traditional idli stands are known as Tattae Idlis.

My husband, came acoss an eatery that even calls itself “Tattae Idli Hotel"at Kyatasandra near Tumkur, Karnataka, during one of his work tours. He became an instant fan of the steaming soft white discs served with a simple watery potato curry seasoned with whole green chillies.

Once, realizing his work in Tumkur is almost complete, and not wanting to miss out on these idlis, he purchased a tattae idli stand. Since then I have also started preparing tattae idly at home. I usually serve it with two varieties of chutneys, sambar and a dollop of fresh melting butter on top. One Tattae idly is equivalent to three normal sized idlis and hence two of them are more than sufficient for the two of us for a wholesome meal.

The highway eaterys that serve idlis are a boon to weary travelers. It is not only filling, but can be safely eaten without any fear of harm to health, as it is steamed and served piping hot.


INGREDIENTS:
Rice – 3 cups
Black gram dal -3/4 cup
Beaten rice or rice flakes – ¼ cup
Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp
Salt -1/2 tsp

METHOD:
1. Soak rice, dal, beaten rice and fenugreek seeds together for half an hour.
2. Grind all ingredients into a smooth and thick batter. Add salt and blend.
3. Fill ¾ of a large vessel with the batter, cover it and leave it to rise for 12 hours.
4. When the batter has risen up to the brim of the vessel, it is ready to use.
5. Grease each Tattae or Plate of the idly stand with a drop of ghee.
6. Fill half the plate up to half its height allowing the remaining space for the idly to rise.
7. Place the stand in a pressure cooker and steam without the weight for 15 minutes.
8. Allow the steam to settle down then open the cooker. Remove the idlies from the plates using a knife or a spoon.
9. Enjoy with varieties of chutneys and sambar not forgetting to top it with a dollop of fresh butter or ghee.

Carrot Kosumalli - a colourful carrot and mung dal salad

CARROT KOSUMBARI
My mother was the first one to introduce mixed vegetable salad in our home. Nutritional tips were rarely published in news papers and magazines in those days. After reading one such rare tip, she decided to serve us kids a nutritious health dish almost every day. She artistically cut carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes and just added a dash of salt to it. The new dish was really the center of attraction on the table.

The traditional version of salad is the kosumbari or kosumalli which has its place in grand feasts. Actually two types of kosumbaris salted and sweet versions are a must in feasts. Green gram dal and cucumber are used to prepare the salted version and Bengal gram dal and coconut are used for the sweet kosumbari which is sweetened with jaggery or sugar.

Caterers are becoming more and more innovative now a days. Sweet corn, pomegranate, sprouts of various grains and various other raw vegetables have found their place in the making of kosumbaris. Here is a recipe for the colourful carrot kosumbari.


INGREDIENTS:
Moong dal (Split green gram dal) - 1 cup
Carrot – 2
Fresh grated coconut – 2 tbsps
Cooking oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Green chillies chopped – 1
Salt – ½ tsp
Lime – 1
Fresh coriander leaves- few
Red chilly -1(broken)
METHOD:
1. Soak green gram dal in just enough water for half an hour.
2. When the dal is well soaked and soft, drain it well and keep aside.
3. Peel and grate the carrots and add it to the drained dal.
4. Heat oil and add asafoetida and mustard seeds.
5. When the mustard splutters add the cut green chilly and the broken red chilly.
6. Add the seasoning to the carrot and dal mixture.
7. Add salt, juice of 1 lime and shake well in a covered vessel.
8. Garnish with fresh coconut gratings and fresh coriander leaves.


This is also a good after school snack for children.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Lime Rasam

LIME RASAM
When eating the same rasam prepared with tamarind daily becomes boring, and the tongue craves for variety, we usually switch over to tomatoes or lime or even mango or pineapple to add the sour taste to rasam. Lime rasam can be had has a clear thin soup just before meals, or served like any other rasam with white rice.
Ingredients:
Lime – 1 big
Green gram dal – ¼ cup
Green chillies (slit) – 2
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Curry leaves – a few
Coriander leaves – a few
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Salt – 1 tsp
Pepper – ¼ tsp
Cumin seeds – ¼ tsp
Ghee – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Tomato - 1
Method:
1. Pressure cook green gram dal in 1 ½ cups of water and turmeric powder.
2. Add salt, asafoetida, curry leaves to the watery cooked dal and boil for 2 minutes.
3. Add chopped tomatoes and boil for one more minute.
4. Add two glasses of water and decrease heat.
5. Coarsely powder pepper and cumin seeds and add it to the rasam.
6. Squeeze out the juice of one lime into the rasam
7. Add chopped fresh coriander leaves. (fewMint leaves will lend it refreshing flavour)
8. Wait until the rasam foams and remember to remove from flame before it boils.
9. Heat ghee and add mustard seeds. When it splutters add it to the rasam.
10. Keep the rasam covered so that the flavour is intact.
TIP: Any rasam should never be boiled as it spoils the flavours. Rasam will foam, and slowly rise to the top of the vessel, similar to milk, when it reaches boiling point. The flame should be switched off immediately, and the vessel covered with a lid to seal in the flavours.
Enjoy the hot rasam in a tall glass as you watch the monsoon rain lashing out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tidippu Kozukattai and Ulutham Kozukattai for Lord Ganesha

Kozukattai – Rice Flour Dumpling

Today is Ganesh Chaturthi. Lord Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and the Lord of New Beginnings! Wish you all a very happy and successful year ahead with Lord Ganesha’s blessings!

Lord Ganesha is said to love sweet kozukattai or modak, which is a steamed dumpling made of a thin rice flour shell, filled with a delicious mixture of coconut and jaggery. Somasi is a similar sweet, which is however, deep fried rather than steamed. The outer covering is made of maida (white flour) and rava (semolina). The mixture inside is made of cobri (dried cocunut) and sugar.

Ulutham Kozukattai is a salty steamed dumpling, that is also usually prepared during festivals and is offered to the deity worshipped. Like the sweet version, this also has an outer shell prepared with rice flour and a stuffing prepared with lentil. As Ulutham Kozukattais are very nutritious, my mother used to prepare them as an evening tiffin. She even enriched the nutritional value, by adding some minced vegetables. We would pop them into our mouths as we went up and down and finished them off, even before they were served at the table. A spicy gojju or a chutney will make a delicious combination with Ulutham Kozukzttai. Given below are recipes for the sweet as well as salty Kozukattais.


Ingredients for Kozukattai
Rice flour - 1 cup
Salt – 1 pinch
Gingili (Sesame) oil – 2 tbsps
Water – 2 cups
Method for preparing the Kozukattai
1. Boil water with salt and oil in a thick bottomed pan.
2. When the water is boiling add the rice flour gently stirring continuously to avoid lumping.
3. When the flour is cooked and becomes a mass, turn off the heat and cover it with a lid leaving it for 5 minutes to cook in its own steam.
4. Knead the cooked flour into a soft dough adding a little oil if necessary.
5. Take a small portion of the dough and roll it into a lemon sized ball.
6. Dip your fingers in oil and then make a depression in the middle of the ball with your thumb.
7. With both thumbs in the depression, press the edges extending them with the other fingers to make a cup like shape as uniform, and thin as possible.


8. Place a spoonful of the filling into the cup and fold the cup in half so that the edges are sealed.






9. Press he sealed edges making sure that no stuffing comes out, and you have plump semi -circular shaped dumplings.





Alternately, you can gather the edges to the top and squeeze them together with your finger tips, to resemble the shape of a top or garlic pod!
Note: If you make both sweet and salty types for the same meal, then I would recommend different shapes (semi circular for the ulutham kozukattai, and top-shaped for the jaggery-coconut kozukattai) for easy identification! 10. Shape all the kozukkatais in the same manner.
11. Steam the whole batch in a pressure cooker without weight for 15 minutes.


Tidippu Kozukattai Stuffing - Sweet Jaggery & Coconut filling
Ingredients


Freshly grated coconut - 1 cup
jaggery - 3/4 cup
cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp (Optional)
Method
1. Mix coconut gratings and jaggery and cook in a heavy bottomed pan, over a low fire, stirring occasionally.
2. When the mixture is ready, it will leave the sides of the pan.
3. Switch off the flame, and add cardamom powder if desired.

Ulutham Kozukattai Stuffing - Vegetable and Black Gram Lentil Stuffing Ingredients:
Urad Dal (Black gram dal) – ½ cup
Red chillies – 3
Asafoetida- 1 pinch
Finely Chopped vegetables - 1/4 tea cup (beans, carrots, potato, capsicum, peas etc)
Chopped fresh coriander – little
Salt – ½ tsp
Oil – 2 tsps
Mustard seeds
Method
1. Soak dal and red chillies for half an hour.
2. Grind the soaked dal and red chillies coarsely with salt and asafoetida
3. Steam the ground dal for 15 minutes, and set aside.
4. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
5. When it splutters add finely chopped vegetables and a pinch of salt and sauté.
6. Next add the steamed dal and crumble and mix with the vegetable and seasoning.
7. Add corriander leaves.
8. Stuffing for Ulutham Kozukattai is ready.

Ulutham Kozukattai can be enjoyed with any chutney or gojju.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Making Sevai or Rice Noodles at Home

Making Sevai or Rice Noodles at Home

Fresh rice noodles are called Sevai. It is an easily digestible and healthy food. Once the basic dish is ready it can be seasoned into a number of varieties including the sweet ones. It is supposed to be a delicacy and is one of the many breakfast dishes prepared at grand weddings.
Since the cooking process is a bit elaborate many of us tend to buy the ready made rice sticks available in the market. However the authentic flavour of the dish comes out only in freshly prepared sevai. You will need a sevai press to make this at home. With practice and patience once you get a hang of it, sevai can be prepared with ease in less time. Usually men and the children of the house love to give a helping hand when it comes to the ‘pressing’ part as it is a very interesting operation.

When sevai is prepared at home, at least three varieties are made, in order to get the most out of the labour intensive process! Listed below are recipes for Lemon sevai, Sweet sevai, and Curd sevai.

INGREDIENTS:
Rice flour – 3 cups
Salt – 1 pinch
Gingili (Sesame) oil – 3 tbsp
Water – 6 ½ cups
METHOD:

1. Boil water in a heavy bottomed pan with salt and oil.
2. Add the rice flour slowly to the boiling water stirring continuously.
3. Stir until it becomes a cooked mass and cover with lid after switching off the flame.
4. After the steam subsides knead the cooked flour into a smooth dough.
5. Shape handful of dough into cylindrical rolls.
6. Make as many rolls until all the dough is utilized.
7. Steam all the rolls in a pressure cooker without weight for 15 minutes. 8. Prepare the Sevai Press by rubbing oil to the 'perforated tumbler' where the roll will be placed. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the tumbler.
9. Place a large plate under the press to receive the Sevai strands as they come out of the press.
10. Place a roll into the ‘perforated tumbler’ and press the lever, till the thin strands of sevai come out.


11. Press all the rolls and collect the sevai in the plate.

LEMON SEVAI
SEASONING INGREDIENTS:
Oil – 2 tbsps
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Urad Dal (Black gram dal) - 1 tsp
Bengal gram dal – 1 tsp
Red chillies – 4
Salt – 2 tsps
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Juice of 1 ½ lemon
Curry leaves – a few
METHOD:
1. Spread a portion (one thirds) of the sevai in another plate.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
3. When it splutters add the dals and roast till they are golden in colour.
4. Add the broken red chillies and curry leaves.
5. When the chillies are crisp, add the juice of lime mixed with salt and turmeric powder into the seasoning.
6. Switch off the flame and mix the seasoning well, before pouring it on the sevai in a circular motion.
7. Gently blend the seasoning with the sevai using a spatula without breaking the sevai strands.
Decorate with fresh coriander leaves and enjoy with coconut chutney.

CURD SEVAI
INGREDIENTS:
Curd – 2 cups
Salt – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Urad Dal (Black gram dal)- 1 tsp
Bengal gram dal – 1 tsp
Red or green chillies – 2
Fresh ginger (grated) – 1 tbsp
Oil – 2 tsps
METHOD:
1. Spread out the second portion of the sevai on a plate.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
3. When it splutters add the dals and roast until they become golden in colour.
4. Add the chilly pieces and grated ginger and sauté.
5. Add curry leaves if preferred.
6. Pour the seasoning into the curd, add salt and blend.
7. Pour the seasoned curd on the sevai in a circular motion and gently blend, without mashing or breaking the strands.
Chill and enjoy with pickle.

SWEET SEVAI
INGREDIENTS:
Milk – 3 cups
Crushed jaggery powder - ½ cup
Powdered cardamom – 1 pinch
Raisins - a few
Coconut milk – 1/2 cup
METHOD:
1. Boil milk, stirring continuously till it becomes reduced 2 cups.
2. Dissolve jaggery powder in milk on low flame.
3. Add ½ a cup of coconut milk.
4. Remove from flame and add cardamom powder.
Serve plain sevai in bowls, and pour the prepared milk on top. Decorate with raisins.