Idli – Steamed rice cake

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Idli – Though this is a very typical South Indian breakfast, it is no longer made only in South Indian homes. Like Dosa, Idli is also world famous πŸ˜› I know couple of my non-Indian friends who make Idli at home!! Well, having said that, most people typically buy the idli batter that is available in stores. I also used to do the same. Afterall, it saves so much time and preparation. That is what I used to think till I made my first perfect batch of Idli batter. The first time I tried making Idli batter, I was soo disappointed. My idli wasn’t fluffy or soft. It was hard and sticky. I realized that my urad dal was the culprit. Please make sure that the urad dal you use for the batter is of good quality and fresh.

I was ready with my second batch of batter. But this time, the idli was not fluffy. Thats when I realized that you shouldn’t stir your batter much after it is fermented. This makes a huge difference in the way your idli comes out. By mixing your fermented batter, you let all the air escape. The third time I made, my idlis were perfect. Third time charm, huh!!! πŸ˜€ Well, now I don’t necessarily have to buy dosa/idli batter from the store anymore! There are days, when I don’t even want to enter the kitchen after work. And then when you know that you have some idli batter in the refrigerator, it is such a relief πŸ™‚ It takes 10 mins overall to get idlis on the plate. Usually, I make dry coconut chutney with idli, but you could just have it with some podi/pickle too.. That’s why I like idli so much these days; its so easy to make ’em πŸ˜‰

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Whole Urad Dal/Black gram – 1 cup
Raw Rice – 2.5 cups
Parboiled Rice – 1.5 cups
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1/2 tsp)
Oil/Ghee – as required

METHOD:

1. Soak rice and urad dal for 4-5 hours in separate bowls. Put fenugreek seeds also along with urad dal.
2. In a wet grinder, mixie or blender grind urad dal into a smooth paste using very little water. Use the same water in which you soaked urad dal.
3. Grind rice also into a fine paste. The batter should be very smooth, it should not have grains.
4. Mix ground urad dal batter and rice batter well. Add salt to the batter.
5. Keep the batter in a warm place overnight(or 8-10 hours) for fermenting. During winter it could take longer for fermentation. The batter should rise well or ferment well to get good idli/dosa.
6. Once the batter rises, take the top portion of the fermented batter and use it for making idlis. Keep the remaining batter in the refrigerator.
Note: I asked specifically to use the top portion for idli, because, I use the same batter for both idli and dosa. It works perfectly for me. As the batter sits longer, it gets more sourness. Then you could use it for dosa.
Do not stir the batter too much once it is fermented. That will prevent the idlis to become soft and fluffy.

For making Idlis:-

1. In steamer, keep some water for boiling.
2. Grease the idli plates with oil.
3. Using a laddle, pour the idli batter into the moulds. Stack the plates.
4. Once the water boils, lower the idli plates into the steamer and steam it for 7-8 mins.
5. Once ready, let the idli cool down a little. Using a knife or sharp spoon, scoop out the idlis into a plate.

Serve with coconut chutney or sambar(Recipes found here: Sambar or Palakkadan Sambar(with coconut) πŸ™‚

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Moong Dal Halwa/Asoka Halwa

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Moong Dal Halwa, also known as Asoka Halwa is one of those desserts which I didn’t know existed πŸ˜‰ Recently, a colleague of mine introduced this dish during our lunch time. It looked like Kesri, but didn’t taste so. That is when she told that it is Asoka halwa and is made of moong dal/split green gram. Well, from that day I wanted to try making this delicious halwa.

After thanksgiving weekend, we had a lot of leftovers for the week. Since I didn’t have to ‘cook’ anything specifically for dinner, my mind started to wander, thinking, how can I keep her(me!!!) occupied. Then all of a sudden, I remembered this wonderful halwa I had few days back. I had a small idea of how to proceed coz I remember my colleague telling me that the preparation is similar to Rava Kesri. I searched for few recipes and then started my attempt. I was so happy after making the halwa. It is an absolutely charming dessert. I loved it πŸ˜€

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Moong Dal/Split Green Gram – 1 cup
Wheat flour – 2 tsp
Ghee – 1 cup
Sugar – 1 cup
Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
Red food color – a pinch

METHOD:

1. Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a saucepan. Roast the moong dal till the raw smell goes off.
2. In a cooker, cook the dal using approx. 1-1.5 cups water. The dal should cook really well. If it doesn’t become a paste, then grind it in a blender to make it a smooth paste.
3. In the saucepan, roast wheat flour and keep aside.
4. Now add the cooked and mashed moong dal to saucepan along with sugar. Stir well so that the sugar melts and mixes well with moong dal.
5. Add the remaining ghee, cardamom powder, roasted wheat flour and food color(mixed in 1 tbsp water). Mix it well and keep stirring.
6. Halwa is ready when the mixture stops sticking to the pan and takes a soft texture. At this time remove from heat.

Serve hot!

Black Chana/Kadala Curry

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Kadala(whole Bengal gram) curry is the best accompaniment with Puttu/Oats puttu. As I have mentioned before, I totally dislike puttu. But the only possibility of me having puttu is when its served with Kadala curry. The combination of oats puttu and kadala curry is even better than with the traditional rice puttu. So if you decide to make oats puttu, don’t skip this curry :- )

Whole Bengal gram is very nutritive and is a store house of protein. It imparts lot of strength to the muscles and body. I have been anemic in the past and this is one source of energy which is very effective. So I started making black chana/chick pea/kadala/Bengal gram curry more often. It goes well with chappati too. But plan it ahead if you want to make this dish, since it has to be soaked overnight before cooking.

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Kadala/Whole Bengal gram – 1.25 cups or 200 gms
Onion – 1.5 nos, chopped
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green chilli – 2 nos, chopped
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1.25 tsp)
Curry leaves – 2 strands
Coconut oil – 4 tbsp

To grind:-
Shredded coconut – 1/4 cup
Cinnammon – 1/2 inch
Cardamom – 1 nos
Black peppercorn – 1/2 tsp
Cloves – 2 nos
Coriander seeds – 2 tsp

METHOD:

1. Soak chana/kadala overnight and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Put chopped onion, ginger garlic paste, curry leaves, chopped green chilli and salt and let it cook in medium flame. Saute occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, heat a pan and dry roast all the ingredients mentioned under the β€˜To grind’ section. Roast it in medium flame till coconut becomes light brown.
4. After it cools down, grind these ingredients into a fine smooth paste using a mixie/blender and keep aside.
5. After the onions cook well, add the ground paste and saute well. Let it cook till oil starts to separate.
6. Add the soaked chana/kadala into the cooker. Add enough water(apprx. 2 cups) and give a good mix.
7. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and give about 8-10 whistles. After that keep it in simmer for about 5-10 mins.
8. After you open the lid of the cooker, you could either add more water to make more gravy or keep boiling it for some more time if you prefer thicker gravy.

Kadala curry is ready to be served with either puttu or chappati!

Oats Puttu

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Puttu is one of the traditional breakfast items in Kerala. I haven’t heard of any other place which makes this dish. It is usually made of rice flour and can be briefly described as Steamed rice cake. But this recipe uses oats to replace the traditional rice puttu. Keeping the health benefits of oats in mind, this is a good option to make for breakfast. I got introduced to Oats puttu, when my friend told me about it. She told me it is very easy to make and is very tasty with Kadala curry. I was tempted to try it. And voila! She was right!! πŸ™‚ Thank you Moneesha for sharing the idea πŸ˜‰

Both me and DD don’t like puttu. I used to hate those days when mom would make puttu. I used to feel its soo dry that it won’t go down my throat. Though I never thought I would β€˜ever’ make puttu in my entire life, coming from Kerala, I had the Puttu maker handy, just in case πŸ˜› Ya, that’s right, you need a special mould for making puttu. Even if you don’t have the traditional pot for it, you should atleast have the cylindrical mould. And you could place it on top of a cooker. Am glad I had it handy. Coz after making this oats puttu, I know for sure that my Puttu maker is not going to be unused πŸ˜‰

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Oats – 2.5 cups
Water – 1/2 cup apprx.
Salt – to taste(apprx. 3/4 tsp)
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
Shredded coconut – 6 tbsp

METHOD:

1. Pulse the oats in a blender to coarsely grind it.
2. In a bowl, mix oats, salt and cardamom powder well. Sprinkle water little by little over the oats mix and mix well with hands. When you add water, note the below point.
Note: The amount of water added to the oats mix is very important for the puttu to come out well. Extra water would make the puttu very sticky and hard. Less water will not let the puttu to hold together. When you make a ball with the oats mix, the ball should retain its shape. So add only as much water as is required for the oats mix to hold together. The mix should be moist.
3. To make puttu, boil some water in the puttu pot. Meanwhile, layer the puttu kutti(cylindrical shaped mould). Put the perforated disc on the mould and add 1 tbsp grated coconut, then put the oats mix till the puttu kutti is half full. Add another tbsp of grated coconut. Fill the puttu kutti again with the oats mix. Again put a layer of grated coconut.
4. Close the lid of the puttu mould and fix it on the pot of boiling water. Since the water is already boiling, steam it only for 3-4 minutes. When you see the steam coming out from the lid of the mould, you know that your puttu is ready.
5. Open the lid and slowly slide the puttu onto a plate by pushing it with a skewer or something.

Serve with Kadala(Whole Bengal gram) curry or banana.

Potato Stuffed Poori

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Potato stuffed poori- I had only heard of aloo paratha until recently when my friend mentioned about stuffed poori. She asked me if I have ever made Aloo Poori. Never having heard of it before, I gave her a confused look πŸ˜› Then she explained that just like you make aloo paratha, they make aloo poori in their place.

Yesterday I had some leftover Red curry from Banana leaf. I wanted something nice to go with it. I settled for poori. But I realized the curry is too less. So I wanted to make something more filling. I checked my pantry and found potatoes. That’s when I remembered my friend mentioning ‘Potato Stuffed Poori’ and I knew that’s what I am making for dinner.

Both DD and me love poori and aloo paratha. And so this was a super combination of both. Totally loved it!!! Thanks to my friend for introducing this dish to me πŸ™‚

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Oil(for frying) – 2 cups

For Poori :-
Aata – 2 cups
Ajwain/Carom seeds – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Oil – 1 tsp

For filling :-
Potato – 2 no. medium sized, boiled
Onion – 1 no. small sized, chopped
Ginger garlic paste – 1/2 tsp
Green chilli – 2 nos, chopped
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste (apprx. 1/2 tsp)
Coriander leaves – 3 strands, chopped
Green onion – 2 nos, chopped(optional)
Salt – to taste (apprx. 1/2 tsp)
Oil – 2 tbsp

METHOD:
1. Make the poori dough using the ingredients mentioned under ‘For Poori’ section. Keep it covered and keep aside.
2. Meanwhile, make the filling using the ingredients mentioned under ‘For filling’ section. Start by boiling the potatoes and peeling the skin off.
3. Heat oil in a pan. Add chopped onion, salt, green chilli and ginger garlic paste. Cook till onions turn pink.
4. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and garam masala and saute for a minute or so.
5. Add boiled potato and mash it well using a spoon. Mix it well so that the spices spread evenly.
6. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped coriander or green onion and mix well(I used green onion since I had it avaiable).

Preparing stuffed poori:
1. This process is similar to making Aloo paratha. Make lime sized balls with the poori dough.
2. Roll it out a little and put a spoonful of filling in the center of the rolled out dough.
3. Cover the filling from all sides with the sides of dough and roll it out in the shape of a small circle.
4. Repeat the process for the remaining batch of poori dough and filling.
5. Heat oil in a Kadai/deep pan. To check if the oil is hot, drop a small piece of dough to the oil and it should rise to the top immediately.
6. Slowly immerse the rolled out pooris into the oil. Fry both sides till it becomes light brown.
7. Remove the poori from oil and place on kitchen towel to drain extra oil.
8. Repeat the process for all the rolled out pooris.

Serve with chicken curry or side dish of your choice.

Note: 1. If the oil isn’t heated well, the poori will absorb a lot of oil. So ensure that the oil is hot.
2. Also, don’t make the dough very soft by adding more water. Extra moisture in the dough will also cause poori to absorb more oil while frying.

Onion Bajji

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Onion Bajji or Ulli bajji is something that’s perfect when some unexpected guests come home and you are in a fix about what to make. Most of our homes will have a stock of onions. And this one is a quick snack that you could serve with tea.

The tricky part about onion bajji though is about getting it crispy. I love bajjis when eaten from thattukada or roadside stalls πŸ™‚ It has a different taste altogether. The main thing is, it should be eaten fresh. Bajji tastes best when hot and crisp. I have put couple of tips below to help you to get perfectly crisp bajjis and not soggy soft ones πŸ˜› Enjoy this snack with tea!!

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INGREDIENTS:

Onion – 1 no. small sized
Gram flour – 2 tbsp
Rice flour – 2 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Asafetida – 2 pinches
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1/2 tsp)
Coriander leaves – 4-5 strands, chopped
Water – as needed(apprx. 3 fistful)

METHOD:

1. Meanwhile mix all the ingredients(but oil) together and try to bind them by sprinkling water little by little.
2. The batter shouldn’t be very loose/watery. When you take a handful of the onions, it should stay together. Use as less water as possible to achieve that kind of binding.
Note: More water will make the bajji oily and soggy. Also remember that the onion will leave out some water after some time. So add water accordingly.
3. Heat oil in a kadai/deep pan. To check if the oil is hot, drop one onion slice into the oil. It should go down and rise to the top immediately.
4. Once the oil is heated, take spoonful(tsp) of bajji mix and drop into oil. You could put 4-5 bajji’s at a time for frying. Fry till it turns brown.
5. Strain the oil and put on a kitchen towel to drain extra oil and immediately transfer to a plate.

Serve with ketchup πŸ™‚

Sharakkara upperi(Plantain chips coated with jaggery syrup)

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Sharakkara upperi is nothing but a sweet version of plantain chips. The plantain is fried and coated with a jaggery syrup and seasoned with some special flavors. An absolutely charming snack, that you can keep on munching without realizing that it got over in no time.

Let me be honest here. I will not say that making this is easy. Atleast it wasn’t so for me 😦 Frying the chips is the easier part. Getting the right consistency for the jaggery syrup and mixing the powders to the chips and getting it dried up is the tricky part. I made it once and it did not come out well. Well, also coz I got the measurements of the powders wrong and I didn’t stir the chips long enough to coat it well with the jaggery till it all dried up. But the second time, I was lot more patient with my attempt and I got it right. Phew @#%&@!* πŸ˜€ I didn’t want to take risk, so I made it with just 1 plantain and it got finished the same day!!!

Tips: 1. After you fry the chips, drain/take out all the extra oil in the chips.
2. If you plan to make plantain chips and sharakkara upperi together, fry the sharakkara upperi first. This is because, while frying the plantain chips, you will sprinkle saline solution. And salt will make the sharakkara upperi ooze out water and it could get sticky and prevent it from being crispy.
3. To check if the plaitain has cooked by right amount, take a piece and try to crush it using your wrist. It should break easily. The pieces should be crispy and cooked through evenly.

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Oil – 2 cups
Coconut oil(optional) – 1/2 cup
Raw Plantain/Nendrakkaya – 1 no
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Jaggery – 1/3 cup
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Dry ginger powder – 1 tbsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Powdered sugar – 1 tsp

METHOD:

1. Remove the plantain skin well. You would need to use a small knife for ease of removing it. Do not use a peeler!
2. In a bowl of water, put some turmeric powder and immerse this plantain in it.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a kadai(deep cooking pot).
4. Take the plantain and wipe it well using a kitchen towel. Cut the plantain into 1/4 inch slices(round pieces) and cut each 1/4 inch slice into half.
5. Heat oil(+coconut oil) in a kadai. Put the plantain slices(halves) into hot oil.
6. Cook in medium flame till the plantain pieces cook well and get crispy.
7. To check if the plaitain has cooked by right amount, take a piece and try to crush it using your wrist. It should break easily. The pieces should be crispy and cooked through evenly.
8. Remove the chips from oil and place on kitchen towel till the excess oil is removed.
9. Meanwhile, melt jaggery in a pan using water.
10. Stir continously till the jaggery starts to thicken. (It shouldn’t be too thick nor watery).
11. Put the fried chips/pieces into the jaggery syrup and stir continuously.
12. Put the cardamom powder, dry ginger powder, cumin powder and ghee to this and mix well.
13. Once all pieces are coated well with the jaggery syrup, remove from heat and allow it to cool for sometime. Add powdered sugar to prevent the pieces from sticking to each other.