A staple in most tambram households, ours was no different and this was a relished dish back home. The process is a multistep one and is not at all labor intensive to be feared. You can entirely cut down the process by a step when you use Rice Rava or Idli Rava. Please note this is entirely different from sooji/ wheat rava .
The idea that this being rice based, is more easier on the stomach for digestion unlike the sooji which is more stripped of its fiber content.
If you would like to make the rava at home, then you will simply have to coarsely powder the raw rice to a granular stage. Sieve it to get rid of the flour , so you have only the granular stage of rice with you.
There are 2 ways to make this
—— Take 2 cups of raw rice ( basmati, sona masoori ) and run it through your food processor/ blender to get the coarse stage.
—— In a wide wok, heat 2 -3 Tbsp. of Tuvar dal, 1 Tbsp. of channa dal and 1/2 tbsp of whole black pepper. Slightly warm it to get the flavors crackling and coarsely pound it along with the raw rice. This option has a more fiery outcome but is simply delicious .
For my preparation, I used the store bought Idli rice rava. I believe this would be the parboiled variety, but it works well too.
Serves : 6
Prep time :
Stage 1 : Making the upma : 10-15 min
Stage 2 : Cooling time 10 min
Stage 3 : Making the globes : 15 min
Stage 4 : Steaming : 12- 15 min
Makes about 18-24 ( depending on the size of the globe )
You will need a heavy bottomed or good non stick kadai or saucepan for this with a well fitting lid.
Heat the kadai/ sauce pan with the oil and temper with asafoetida, mustard seeds and jeera. Once the seeds crackle add the channa dal and urad dal and on golden -browning ( it is a term, I made it up ), add the split red chilies and curry leaves and ginger and black peppercorns.
Add the 5 cups of water and when it reached a slight boil , add in the grated coconut and salt. Stir to ensure distribution of salt. Let it come to a full boil now.
Once it reaches the full boil, lower the heat to medium and add the rice rava ( idli rava) and stir well.
Cover with the lid and let it cook on low for about 7-8 minutes.
The water would be completely absorbed when you open the lid after this time and you can turn off the flame now. Stir once again very well and let it cool for a few minutes.
Meanwhile get a steamer ready. You can use pressure cooker vessel with idli stand. It works perfect or I just used a colander over a pot of boiling water to steam it.
Dip you hands in cold water or if you can handle the heat just go ahead, make big lemon or golf sized balls with cooked upma. I particularly like the round globes, but my grandma would make the oblong ones.
Steam it for about 12 – 15 minutes.
Let it stand for a couple of minutes and then serve hot with chutney and sambar.
Usually the Idli rava / rice rava cooking ratio is 1 cup : 2 cups of water. But the brand I seem to use yields a very dry mix. Hence I increased the rava : water ratio. Use what works for you.
I would not omit the grated coconut. It adds to tenderness of the upma outcome. It is worth it.
If you do not have red chilies, use green chilies.
Another variation would be to pulse the coconut along with few sprigs of cilantro. It yields a good flavor too.
Reminiscent of those Sunday meals where quick but delicious food was the norm and we had a gaggle of family and friends gathered around for one of those inimitable “quality times” at home. The aroma of fresh sambar and potato spicy podimas with a generous dose of onions and spiced just perfect with green chilies . Asafoetida wafting through the siren’s call of hot, steaming, fresh cooked food and aided by a perfect combination of melted ghee and vadams.
A typical south Indian brunch followed very shortly by filter kaapi – the mother of all Starbucks lattes and espresso, in my opinion. Those were the simpler times. Be it an impromptu weekend brunch or any of those big family gatherings, it was a given that house would be bursting at seams with folks. There was always a smile for everyone and room for one more ..
This dish dates back to those days. Clean flavors with minimal cooking but bang on the target for taste. Fresh curry leaves were always used – just taken of the tree in the backyard. Cilantro? the kitchen garden had it. Want mint ? Running out of something? Just peek into your neighbors’ backyard and give a shout out. Have a huge lot of veggies you harvested? Neighbors took them and nothing goes waste. Community living at its finest, sometimes.
This was a favorite prep back home. Infact you can make a ton of it and use it as a stuffing for masala dosa. Or be creative and stuff it into a bun or paratha, make a grilled sandwich. Possibilities ? Endless!
Prep time : 20 -30 min Cook time : 15 min
This serves about 6-8 people and goes great with samabar or simple rasam and rice.
Potatoes : 8-10
Onions : 2 , medium-sized
Ginger : skinned, a big 1 inch piece
Curry leaves : 6-8
Asafoetida : 1 generous pinch
Turmeric powder : 1 tsp.
Salt : 1.5 tsp.
Green chilies : 6 ( I used very spicy ones )
Cilantro : 1/4 cup, chopped finely
Mustard seeds : 1 tsp.
Split, washed urad dal : 1 Tbsp.
Oil : 2 Tbsp.
Boil the potatoes ( or pressure cook them ) well, peel and mash them roughly ( retain small chunks, don’t make it a gooey mess) and set aside.
Chop ginger and chilies finely or coarsely as per preference and set aside.
Finely slice onions and set aside. I used 2 golf ball sized red onions. You can increase or decrease the quantity based on personal preference.
In a wide bottom heavy skillet ( use a heavy cast iron or nonstick if available ) add the oil and heat it. Add in the Asafoetida when the oil gets hot. Now add in the tempering of mustard seeds ( which will splutter) and urad dal. Once the urad dal is light brown in color , add the curry leaves, chopped ginger and chilies. Sauté for about 30-45 seconds and then add the turmeric powder and the sliced onions.
Sauté the onions till well brown.
Now add the mashed potatoes and salt and gently stir fry in the skillet until the spices are well coated and potatoes are evenly salted as well.
Remove from heat, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.
75 years of experience all bundled in a 5 feet petite frame. Hands that have worked a gazillion times to feed much of the family, friends of the family, extended family and friends of the extended family. And not necessarily gone by the book. She does not need measuring cups and tools. Her weathered hands just scoops and scores. Nothing fancy about it , but the taste is always impeccable.
A bit of this and bit of that, and much love added as well. The age has definitely slowed down the bundle of activity a lot and I am witness to it . And just as to defy it, she clears the fridge out of 3 bundles of cilantro – fresh and not so fresh ones and makes her spice mix . Oh and what a hit it is at home. The flavor and aroma of it is simply outstanding and is a great accompaniment to everything from Idli’s and Dosai’s to a great topping on buttered toasts and sprinkled over fresh plain yogurt…Just eat it plain, with oil, swirled in yogurt or as you wish…Whatever you do , do not miss out on this one !
A great way to finish up large bunches of abundant cilantro or coriander leaves, a great substitute for regular coconut or tomato chutney and molagaipodi, a wonderful spice flavoring for rice and an awesome way to eat up large quantities of green. A finger licking concoction from the hands of a culinary expert , my MIL .
Prep time : 10-15 min + over night drying time for washed coriander leaves
Active time : 15 min
Shelf life : 1 month , best stored in refrigerator to prevent loss of flavor
Fresh coriander bunches, trimmed : 3 -4, large bunches
Channa Dal : 1/2 cup
Split, de husked Urad dal : 1/2 cup
Dry red chilies – 10 ( spicy kind)
Dry Bydagi or kashmiri chilies – 4 ( non spicy, but adds vibrant hue)
Sesame Oil/ Saffola oil/ canola oil : 2 Tbsp.
Asafoetida : A generous pinch ( 1 tsp.)
Salt : 1.5 tsp. + adjusted to taste
Dry tamarind : 3-6 inches
Powdered Jaggery : 1/2 tsp.
Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp.
Preparation of the coriander leaves:
Trim the ends of the large bunches. I simply twisted out about 3 inches from the bottom to remove the stems. Wash in cold water very well. At least 3-4 times to remove the impurities.
Spread out on a paper towel or napkin, in a cool dry place to dry in shade. I usually do this very late in the evening and it dries overnight on the counter.
Preparation of the dry chutney mix:
In a wide skillet add half a tbsp. of the oil of choice and roast dry chilies and dry tamarind and set aside to cool.
Add in additional 1 Tbsp. of oil and roast the channa dal and urad dal sequentially to yield brown roasted lentils. Do not speed up this process. You will have burnt lentils on your hand. Medium high is the way to go. Also do not roast both the lentils together. Channa dal takes time to roast and split urad dal will brown faster. So take it step by step. Remove and set aside to cool.
Add in the remaining half tbsp. of oil and add the washed, dried cilantro with turmeric and half a tsp. of salt and wilt the cilantro. I believe this will also preserve the green color of the leaves. Remove and set aside to cool
In a blender, add the red chilies and roasted tamarind and blend to a coarse mix and set aside in a mixing bowl.
Add in the dals and jaggery and salt and whiz to a very coarse mix and empty out in the same mixing bowl.
Add in the wilted cilantro and whiz a couple of times to shred it, add in the dal- chili mix to give a final couple of spins to yield a very coarse, granular, dry mix.
Remove , taste test for salt and spices and store in cool dry place. As in my case, these were transferred to mason jars and stored in the refrigerator.
Notes: Do not over blend , you will be left with a thick paste. Pulsing is the way to go. Your aim is to have a coarse powdery mix of cilantro and lentils. You will notice the natural flavor and texture of cilantro this way. Another option is to roughly chop the cilantro after drying it and before wilting it in the skillet. This way you will have more even mix rather than rustic texture. Either way you cannot go wrong with it.
Pic ref : If you are wondering above the tag on Manirathnam on one of my pictures it refers to a maverick and extremely talented director of Indian cinema – who made movies using the diffused and dark light effect. When I shot this picture, I thought of him 🙂
A trip to any grocery store invariably ends up in me looking for fresh beets. And if it is usually packed with leaves, then the fresher the better naturally. The gorgeous color and crispness of the leaves is a natural draw for me. Actually I am a sucker when it comes to all kinds of fresh leafy greens (Make it most of the veggies ). Can never resist the siren’s call !!!
So there was this lushest pack of beets beckoning to me in the produce section of HT. Gorgeous bright green leaves with veins of deep red and big fat beets clustered to it. I just had to pick it up! Don’t judge me please, I can always rationalize it as how one can never have too many veggies. So in any case, these gorgeous beauties came home and I was itching to make something out of it. Usually the leaves can be sautéed and made with a bit of soaked dal to yield a side accompaniment. But I want something else.. I wanted to make this relish that my mom and grandma could practically whip out of any vegetable. The basic recipe remains the same but the varieties it yields with it as the base is amazing. This is great as a spread, a side dish or to simply use it up mixed with rice and veggies as well.
Beet leaves sautéed and fine ground with roasted urad dal, tamarind, red chilies, whole black pepper to yield a slightly spicy, a bit tangy and wonderful earthy relish/ spread/thogayal. Chockfull of nutrients in a bowl!
Prep time : 10 min Cook time : 10 min Yields : 8 -10 servings
Shelf life : 1 week refrigerated.
Beet leaves – trim stem, chop roughly to yield 2 cups
Skinned, split Urad Dal : 1/2 cup
Wet tamarind : 1 inch piece
Whole black pepper : 1/4 Tbsp.
Red chilies ( mix mild to high heat) – 4-6 or lower according to spice level
Oil : 2 tsp.
Salt : 1 tsp + to taste
Water : 1/3 cup – add as required to grind
Optional : Seasoning ( but highly recommended)
Oil : 1 tsp.
Curry leaves : 4-6
Mustard seeds : 1 tsp.
Hing : a generous pinch
In a skillet add initially 1 tsp. of oil and on heating add chilies and whole black peppers,
Add washed,skinned, split urad dal and roast till it is a nice brown in color. Drain and set aside to cool.
In the same skillet , add another tsp. of oil and now add the thoroughly washed and cut beet leaves and sauté till it is tender. Say about 5 minutes. Add the piece of tamarind. Turn off the flame and scoop it side in another plate to cool.
On cooling , grind the dal and chili and pepper mix initially along with salt to a rough grind.
Add the leaves and tamarind and a couple of tablespoons of water and grind till you reach your desired consistency. Add more water if desired. A smoother relish will be easier to handle but will have lower shelf life if you add too much water.
Optional Seasoning but highly recommended:
Heat oil in skillet, add hing and when it sizzles add mustard seeds which will splutter in the heat and then add curry leaves.
Turn off the flame and pour it over the relish and mix it well.
This is a great way to temper the spices as well enhance the taste if the relish along with increasing the shelf life a bit.
Enjoy with hot steamed rice, phulkas , dal and even a slice of toast!
I often get into one of those “ I so need to clean the pantry “ moods .. especially when I have something major lined up. In this case , it was prepping for the 30 day salad event and with 2 family birthday part events lined up, including one with a herd of teenage boys in the house (shudder ) running amok fueled high on pizza and cake. If you think that’s bad, you see I have another one lined up in 48 hrs – this time it’s a bunch of rising first graders ! Try pizza, cupcake and juice this time .. Plus we do have a family and friends grilling event lined up as well. I love my life .. if I don’t have enough madness thrown at me, I am capable of self- inflicting it! And old habits die hard. You see , I would be one of these maniacs who believed that chasing the dust bunnies and labeling the containers, yields to peace of mind. After all, I would be the one majorly cleaning up my room before an exam !
In any case, I am digressing . So on one of these infamous treasure hunts through the pantry, I discover a stack of cans –3 organic Kirkland tomato paste and 3 cans of Hunt’s diced tomatoes to be precise. I toyed with making homemade pasta sauce vs a nice tomato relish in the tradition Indian style. And guess which won???
Prep time : 10 min Cook time 30-40 min
Organic Tomato Paste : 3 cans
Diced tomato in juice : 3 cans ( blended )
Flavorless oil : 3 tsp
Mustard seeds : 2 tsp
Asafoetida : A generous pinch
Curry Leaves : 12 – optional. Washed and dried thoroughly
Tamarind paste : 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds or Methi seeds : 1 tsp
Red chilli powder or Parika powder : 1-2 tsp
In a nonstick pan, dry roast 1 tsp pf fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds till they sputter and you notice a faint red color on the former. Let this cool down and pulverize it to get a smooth dry powder and set it aside.
In a nonstick wok or big sauce pan , heat the flavor less oil and add in the Hing and 1 tsp of mustard seeds.
Once the mustard seeds sputter add in the blended ( run the diced tomatoes in their juices in a blender to smoothen it ) tomatoes and stir.
Cover partially and let the mixture reduce to half its volume. In effect you are trying to get rid of the water content through heat reduction.
Now add in the paste of the tomatoes from three cans and stir it well along with the added teaspoon of tamarind paste.
You will see the mixture thickening considerably.
Let it thicken some more and then add in the salt, and chilli powder and stir well.
In about 10-15 minutes, you will see the mixture thickened to a soft jelly consistency. Take care not to work this on very high heat.
Now add in the pulverized mixture of fenugreek and mustard seeds – 1 tsp. Stir well and turn off the flame .
Let this cool down completely before storing it in a dry mason jar.
Work the mixture on medium high heat. The idea is to get rid of the water content. Working on very high heart will risk the mixture getting burnt.
Add in the fenugreek mustard seeds at the penultimate stage. You really do not want to add it in early on. It might result in bitterness been imparted .
If you choose to add in the curry leaves, it needs to be added in the stage before you add in the blended tomatoes.
Check the spice and salt levels before you add in the dry powder mix.
This is a great side and accompaniment for Idli’s, Dosa’s, Bread and more.
Ever wondered how you reach for the thing that speaks to that one spot in your heart or soul or more logically to the EQ of your brain ? Be it a bowl of ice cream or rasam, a favorite movie, a dog eared book, your favorite spot in the house overlooking the garden, you reach for that one cozy comfort place when your emotions hit a low- be it the weather gods playing snarly, or your mood gods deciding “blue” was your mood hue for the day.
In any case you tend to gravitate towards the one that fills your belly and soul and sort of reminds you of the comfort of your mom’s wisdom. Today was one such day! Cannot really put your finger on it, but it was a blah day sort of..I just wanted to cozy up and snuggle in the warmth of the comforters and watch a movie or drink a cup of chai or read a book or anything but get up drive and work or .. you get the picture. Passive aggression intentions apart, since none of it could actually materialize, even the spaghetti western I started with did not run through the session, and dinner was on the cards, I fell back to the one pot meal trick, and an eternal favorite in our house when we were grew up!
Here’s to soul food, mom’s wisdom and warm hugs 🙂
Comforting stew of vegetables in yoghurt base aka “Aviyal”
3 cups of mixed vegetables in total , cut 1- 1.5 inch lengthwise and boiled/ tender cooked with salt and turmeric –
Melange of winter melon, yellow squash, cluster beans, string beans, french beans, raw banana, carrot, yams, drumsticks,chayote squash, tindora etc. ( I normally do not use okra, brinjals, onions in these. These also do not need tomatoes, onions or garlic, Satvic , I say !)
Add these vegetables to boiling water with a pitch of salt and turmeric and cook till tender. The other option is for to pressure cook these . Just take care that vegetables do not turn mushy.
Once cooked , strain the excess water ( using minimal water while cooking will prevent loss of nutrients ) and let the vegetables cool down a bit.
6-8 green chillies
2 inches of peeled ,chopped fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp of jeera
2 tbsp of fresh grated coconut or shredded frozen coconut
12 almonds ( In traditional cooking we do not use almonds. My family does not take too kindly to a lot of coconut hence the substitution 🙂 )
Grind all of these to a nice thick paste with little water to ensure a nice smooth consistency.
3 -4 cups of thick fresh yogurt or curd is whipped into this ground mixture.
Final stage prep:
In a bit saucepan or cooking pot, on low heat ( Important : please keep it on low heat . High heat will split the yoghurt and remember you do not have any besan or ground channa dal to prevent it!) add the fresh yoghurt – ground chili coconut mix to the boiled vegetables.
Stir in gently and season salt to taste.
I generally let this stew for another 5 – 7 min just to ensure the spices and yogurt mix is nicely coated and then turn the heat off.
To add in a touch of authenticity , a dash of pure 100% edible coconut oil could be added. This stage is completely optional.
There are a plethora of variations to this stew. Few people believe in adding curry leaves sautéed in coconut oil. Some add in a dash of tamarind to the ground masala mix to add in the tanginess. I prefer the natural tanginess of fresh yoghurt and personally do not subscribe to the sour version of it.
In any case, you cannot go wrong in any version..Make a big bowl, and indulge with a side of Paapad and hot steaming rice ! I did and did not regret it a bit..
What do you do when get snowed in for like say 3 days ?
DH half stuck on the other side of the country ( might as well be the other end of the world.. cancelled flights and ice st(r)uck travelers..yikes ).. Anyways to beat the cabin fever blues and to make sure we do have something on hand to fuel the stomachs ( you know just in case, electricity plays truant ), yours truly decided to have a few basics or staples made . It was when I was foraging in the pantry , I noticed a neatly labeled container if whole barley grains ( yes, yes, I have heard all bout my labeling obsession. You know I have been ragged on it incessantly , when you have two cousin sisters who make you the butt of their jokes, you have heard it all.… I rest my case ).
I know Barley is pretty good as a diuretic and has a whole lot of other health benefits to it. But I had not really experimented with it much. When in doubt, dosa(i)s are a better bet than idles. No seriously, MTR has this multi grain instant dosa variation available at any Indian store . I mean how tough can it be right to make an alternative version at home.
Generally sticking to the proportions I normally use for dosa , I attempted the same here.
Basic FAQ :
Soaking time : 8 hrs or so.
Grinding and prep time : 30 min .
Fermentation time – based on climatic conditions. Seriously ,be nice to weather god, or fake it in the oven.
Cooking time : pretty quick …Devouring time : Instant
2.5 cups of whole grain barley ( note, I used the grain. Not the broken version or the flour )
1 cup of Brown Basmati rice
1 cup washed whole or split urad dal
1/2 tsp of Methi seeds
1/2 tsp of Toor dal
Wash the Barely grains well to remove any gunk and soak it in copious amounts of water.
Wash and soak the brown basmati rice as well in a separate container. Again make sure you have enough water covering the grains as you need them absorb it as much as you can.
In a third container wash and soak the urad dal, methi seeds and toor dal together.
Grind the dals first to yield a smooth and fluffy batter. Remove it in a fairly large container in anticipation for enough room for fermentation volume increase.
Next grind in the rice and the soaked barley . This grind would be quite smooth and you do have to take the time to grind it well. You will notice a good volume and might even feel the batter to be very very smooth.
The next stage is to mix in both the batters thoroughly . If you are not squeamish, your clean hand will do. If not use a ladle to mix it and salt it and set it aside in a warm dry place.
Fermentation and volume increase:
After about 14-16 hrs you should notice the fermentation process has done its job ! The batter takes on a slightly frothy appearance at least on the surface and volume has increased.
Now mix in the batter once again thoroughly and start making dosa(i)s…
Making the Dosa(i)
In a pre heated flat non stick griddle ( cast iron works great too), drop a ladleful of the batter and swiftly swirl it to make concentric circles . The outcome resembles a crepe.
Do the the edges with a bit of oil.
After a min or 2 , when you notice browning on the underneath and color changes, flipt it tot he other side to finish the cooking
Serve them with idli chutney podi, any of the chutneys you normally make or as in my case with a bowl of steaming sambar. ( recipe for sambar coming up soon)