Idli - Rawa version


Every South Indian cook's toughest exam i guess is making the perfect idli. Making the perfect one in India is not much difficult because the ambient conditions leaves the job more than half done. But in colder places, the toughest challenge is to ferment the batter just enough that it is very well aerated but not sour. I should confess it is no joke. The idli batter in my home keeps travelling around the house through out the day moving along with the sunlight from the windows, beginning with the living room in the morning and reached the kitchen by late afternoon!!! I guess that cant be avoided.
However this time, my friend who is expecting was craving for some Bengluru-style Idlis. And I really wanted to craft my best Idli. I was more than convinced that I cannot replicate the Banglore S.N/SLV/Veena coffee bar/Bramhan tiffin room/etc but tried my best shot that is it..

We will need,
Urad dal 1/2 cup
Idli rawa 1 cup
Beaten rice 2 tbsp (avalakki/poha)
Koshar Salt
Dry Yeast a pinch

Method:

  • Wash the urad dal and beaten rice. Soak the urad dal and beaten rice in filtered water overnight or at least for 6-8 hours. Grind it into a smooth paste using the water its been soaking in. Make sure you use only filtered water. (Unfiltered water obstructs fermentation) 
  • Mix the idli rawa into the urad dal batter. Proof the yeast in 2 tbsp warm water. Pour into the batter, add salt and mix gently. Pour the batter into a metal container big enough to accommodate the doubling of the volume of the idli batter.Sit it in a warm place till the batter double. Or Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Turn off the heat and leave the batter in the oven. Also the batter can be kept near the heater grates where the temperatures are generally higher.
  • Once the batter has doubled in volume, it is ready to go.
  • Grease the idli stand/plates and pour a few table spoons of batter in each of the moulds. 
  • Heat a idli cooker or a normal cooker with an inch water in it. Place the idli stand in the cooker and close. Steam for 7-10 minutes. 
  • To check if the idli is done. If you touch the idli with your wet finger then it should not stick.
This is the best I could manage!!!

Masoor Dal -Lazy Lunch Thali I

Yesterday was a lazy day. We did not have any guests, nor did we have any other engagements (which is rather unusual). Therefore i was feeling very lazy. I woke up and just went through my beloved week end news paper and began to think of food. I fixed up some pongal for our breakfast which left me half hungry and half craving for something simple but very good. But my laziness was not letting me do much.So I aimed at something 'Rachel Ray' style. So this is what we ended up having for lunch and the left overs of dinner! We both just loved it. It took me a little over one hour to fix this lunch and there was no extra clean up. Just right for a week end lazy lunch.

Photobucket

We will need,

Masoor dal-split 1/2 cup
Green Chillies 6 and above
Garlic 2 cloves
Fresh Coriander(Cilantro)
Salt
Ghee 1 table spoon
Mustard 1 big pinch
Hing 1 big pinch
Curry leaves 10-15
Turmeric a pinch
Lime juice

Method

  • Combine the dal, turmeric and a little ghee(oil) in a cooker along with the chillies and garlic. Cook till done (my cooker does it in single whistle).
  • Prepare the tempering. Heat the ghee. Drop the mustard, hing and curry leaves. Turn off the heat.
  • When the cooker is cool enough to handle, open the lid and pour the tempering mixture into the dal. Bring it to a quick boil. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with steaming rice.
We enjoyed it with Tondekayi palya, Kosambari salad, Rasam and fresh whole milk yogurt!

Molake Hurali Kaalu Saaru

Horse gram is probably my favorite pulse! I just love it. We were told during our younger days that high bred race horses were fed this gram because of their nutrition value. We readily ate the story up. Wonder how far it is true in today's world. However it is undoubtedly a wholesome food and what better way to enjoy it than in a curry over hot steaming rice and a dollop of butter!!!

We will need,

Horse Gram 1 cup
Potatoes 4-5 small cut into chunks
Eggplant 4-5 tender ones cut into bite sized pieces
Onion 1
Coconut 1/4 cup
Tomato 1
Red Chillies 7 and above
Dhania 2 tbsp
Ginger crushed 1 tbsp
Garlic crushed 1 tbsp
Turmeric a pinch
Mustard 1 teaspoon
Ghee 1 tbsp
Butter a few tbsps
Salt
Clove 6-10
Cinnamon 1/4 inch

Method

  • To sprout the Horse Gram soak it in water over night. The following morning drain thoroughly and wash a couple of time in running water. Tie it in a damp cloth in a warm place and sit it for a day. After a day check if the seeds are germinating. If they have sprouted well, you can use it right away. If not sit it for one more day, just make sure that the cloth is not dry.
  • When you have the sprouts ready prepare for the curry. Pressure cook the sprouted horse gram in plenty of water till tender and keep it aside.
  • Combine onion, garlic, ginger,clove,Cinnamon in a blender and grind it into a fine paste. Separately, grind the coconut and tomato into a smooth paste.
  • Heat ghee in a pan. Add the mustard and turmeric. Once the spluttering stops stir in the ground onion mixture. Cook till the raw smell disappears, say 20 minutes. Add the coconut-tomato paste and the potatoes and eggplants, followed by the cooked horse gram. Adjust the salt and cook till the vegetables are tender and the curry is fragrant and well combined. Add more water in between if the curry thickens too much.
  • Serve it hot with steamed rice and dollops of butter.

Rasmalai

My tryst with Rasmalai began when i was in my early teens and my father was posted to Amritsar up north. Back then Rasmalai was not as popular back home in Bangalore, though Rasgulla was already a popular favorite! I cant figure out a reason for the historical lag in terms of this popularity.Anyways!
I owe this recipe to our gracious land lady Minnie a gutsy Punjabi Women. Also i should remember our co tenants Dolly aunty. These two ladies used to host the monthly Kittie parties where in groups of affluent ladies who did not have much to do, gathered together to complain about each other!!!! We kids were obviously banned from the party but we were fed well and we got all the goodies that were being served at the party. This Rasmalai was a perpetual hit. The senior Minnie used to make it from scratch but Dolly aunty used to take liberal help from the sweet shop!!!
Taking a trip down the memory lane, I made this sweet on the occasion of our new year-Ugadi. And all our guests liked it! I like the Minnie aunty version of it, even though it is a bit laborious it is worth all the effort. By all means go ahead with the shorter version of the recipe if time-energy constrained.

Photobucket

Here are both the recipes.

From- scratch Rasmalai

Whole Milk (full fat/full cream) 4 cups +6 cups
lemon juice
Sugar 1 cup
Water 4 cups
Saffron a few strands soaked in warm water +a few strands soaked in warm milk
Almonds 1/4 cup chopped

Method:

  • Bring 4 cups of milk to boil. Mix in lemon juice and curdle the milk. When the milk solids have completely separated from the whey, strain it with a muslin.This is essentially making the panner. Leave the panner -muslin pack in a colander with a heavy pan/vessel/any weight sitting over it for a while. (I generally leave it for hours) When completely drained crumble the panner and start kneading
  • Kneed it into a smooth dough. Pinch small balls out of it about size of a fresh cherry. 
  • Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a pressure cooker. Drop the panner balls into the syrup. Make sure leave enough space between the panner balls. Once done they will be twice the volume. So give them enough room to expand. 
  • Pour the saffron sitting in warm water. Close the pressure cooker, leave it on medium heat for two whistles, leave it on low heat switching it right before the third whistle. Let it cool completely before immersing it into the milk kheer. This is basically the Rasgulla, which is yummy all by itself.
  • While the rasgollas cool, scald the remaining 6 cups of milk. Mix in the Saffron sitting in the warm milk, the almonds and the remaining sugar syrup in the pressure cooker. (I like mine not too sweet. If you like it SWEET then add sugar accordingly to taste once the milk is reduced)Simmer and reduce it to about 4 cups or till the milk is caramel coloured and fragrant. Turn off the heat and cool it completely.
It is best to leave it to cool for a couple of hours. Once at room temperature or cooler immerse the rasgollas into the milk kheer. Refrigerate overnight and serve with slivered almonds.

Now for the Dolly aunty's Rasgolla. Well a few points here. She used to use Pistas (Back then her parents had been the Pakistan for a gurudwara pilgrimage and got lots of pistas from there.) Somehow I like the almonds in Ramalai better than pistas.

Dolly aunty's Rasmalai

Rasgulla -1 can (the store brought rasgulla works fine, if local sweet shops make it even better otherwise Haldirams works just fine)
Evaporated milk 1 small can
Pistas a big handful chopped
Whole milk 1 cup
Sugar 2 tablespoons (more if desired/according to taste)

Drain the Rasgollas and gently break each Rasgolla into 2-3 pieces. Bring the milk to a boil. Mix in the sugar and evaporated milk. Stir well to combine. Bring it to a boil stirring it all the time. Once it is caramelly and fragrant turn the heat off. Let it cool completely before mixing the rasgollas and garnish with Pistas.

So This is the saga of two sweet women and their sweet creations. I have not met them for almost 13-14 years now but I still cant forget Minnie aunty's palak paneer, tinda, aloo gobi and the Punjabi delicacies that she used to make. Now its all fond memories.

Enjoy!!

Bajra Poori

During the course of my research I found that though Bajra (Sajje in kannada) had been rated an inferior grain, it was one of the most nutritious cereals. High in protien as well as micro nutrients. Impressed by its nutritional values, i got a pack of bajra flour. I remember my maternal aunty narrating us (me and my kid sister back then) about the food habits of my forefathers my great grand father and his family to be precise who has been dead for almost thirty years now. Accordingly they used to consume a lot of Bajra and ragi apart from rice. Wheat was then not very popular with those people. Also she used to tell us that Bajra was easy to digest etc which I now doubt. However, no doubts on the nutritional value or the taste of bajra. It is yummy. I had prepared some aloo palak along with Bajra Pooris.

We will need,


Bajra flour 1 cup
Wheat flour 1 tablespoon
Salt
Peanut Oil to deep fry

Method:
  • Mix all the ingredients, and knead it into a smooth dough using water as required. Pinch small balls from the dough. Roll it out into about 4 " round. 
  • Heat oil in a kadai. Slide the rolled out dough gently into the hot oil and cook for a few minutes on each side, much like pooris. Serve hot with Aloo Palak.

Iyengar Bakery Style Vegetable Puffs


Another ubiquitous eatery in southern Karnataka is the Iyengar Bakery. Traditionally only communities have been associated with bakery business in the region. One is the Iyengars (A vegetarian Sri-Vishnava bramhin community following the visistadviata school of Sriramanujacharya), The other being the muslim community.Of course in the recent decades socio-economic liberalisation has lead to a state of affairs where such generalisations are far from reality. But used to be true for the by-gone era. The famous joke in Kannada says that Bakery can be either Hebbar(Sect of Iyengar) or Jabbar(A muslim name).
The Iyengar bakeries used to sell vegetarian goodies .. i love their stuff.. the puffs, the pastries, the fruit cake.. yum yum yum... my mouth diligently waters as i think of all the goodies..I still wonder how they were able to bake those perfectly fluffy-moist cakes without using eggs!!Should say it was a great art indeed. On the other had the muslim bakeries were famous for stuff like keema puffs, keema samosa,egg puffs, chicken patties and other non vegetarian snacks. Since my exposure was just restricted to occassional egg puffs cant write a great deal about them.
It is different with the Iyengar bakery though.
They can be actully be found within any given 0.5 km radius any where in South Karnataka, a few being more famous than the others. My favorite was the one that was just off the road near my house in Mahalaxmi Layout, Bangalore- the great S.L.N Bakery. I just used to love their puffs.(Now i realise how heavy they are in terms of calories, but back then its the best phase of my life when i could eat any thing i could lay my hands on!!!!)
So fine morning here in the east coast i woke with a craving to eat my beloved Iyengar bakery puffs!!! So this was my only option had to do it. Also i decided to make it just a bit more lighter in calories. They turned out to be yummy and me and my spouse ended up having on a perfectly lazy weekday (we had declared a holiday for ourselves!!! that day).
Here is the recipe. A word about the shape of the puffs. The puffs as can be seen in the photo is very unlike the Iyengar bakery puffs available in the Bangalore. This is my tribute to the Delhi style patties which are very similar to puffs except for the shape. For all my years in Delhi i decided to pay a small tribute in terms of altering the shpae of my puffs!
You will need;
Puff Pastery Sheets - 1 (i used pepperidge farms) (two 1/3 of a sheet if making the low calorie version)
Egg 1 beaten
for the filling:
Potatoes 2 large (cut into small cubes)
Peas 1/2 cup
Onion 1 large
Other mixed vegetables (optional)
Chilly powder (as required)
Dhania powder 2 teaspoons
amchoor 1 teaspoon
garam masala 1 teaspoon
Salt
Corriander leaves
oil
jeera
Method:
Thaw the Pastrt sheets according to the instuctions on the pack or for about 30-40 minutes.
Prepare the filling in the mean while. Heat oil in a pan and drop the jeera. When it stops spluttering add the chopped onion. Saute for a few minutes. Then drop the potatoes, sprinkle some salt and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes til almost done. mix in the peas and other vegetables if using along with the spices. Mix well and simmer for a few more minutes till the raw smell disappers and the vegetable are done. Keep it aside to cool. Start the filling only once it cools down to room temperature or low.
Now for the pastry sheet. If taking the low calorie route, take a third of the sheet and cut it into two. work with 2 of those 1/3 sheets to get 4 pieces. Dust a dry surface with some all purpose flour and roll out the cut sheets a bit to increase the size of the sheet by about 1/2" on all sides. Now fill the sheet with the potato mixture and brush the edges with some beaten eggs (water works as fine). Seal the edges to get desired shapes. Brush the beaten egg on top of the puffs. Repeat with the remaining sheets. Lay down the stuffed sheets on a greased baking sheet and pop it into the oven at 350 degree. Check once after 15 minutes . Mine was done in 20 minutes. It wont take long at all. So keep a close eye after 10-15 minuted.
For those lucky people not counting calories. The puffs can be make even more flaky and more tasty of course.
Take the full sheet brush some melted butter over the sheet. Fold it once with the top edge closing on to the bottom edge. Brush some more butter and fold it once more similarly. now cut the sheet into 3 equal slices. Roll out each of those sheets by a few more inches and follow the stuffing and baking procedure given above..
Enjoy!!