Monday, January 21, 2008

Adai (Rice and Mixed Lentil Pancakes)

One taste and you are hooked! These nutritious and easy to make pancakes are great for breakfast, lunch, or a quick snack; in fact just about any time at all! These are thicker than Dosas and make a substantial meal. Adai batter lends itself to making an amazing variety of good eats. I make extra batter to keep in the fridge to make a quick meal in one of its many incarnations!

My photographer is busy at the moment; so pictures will be forthcoming soon:)! Enjoy the adais!

Ingredients:

1 cup white rice (any type)
1 cup brown rice (any type)
1/4 cup Urad dal
1/4 cup Chana dal
1/4 cup Toor dal
2 dry Red Chilies
2 thin round slices fresh Ginger (Opt)
2 sprigs fresh Curry Leaves
1 big pinch Asafoetida (Hing)
2 tsp Salt
Canola Oil for cooking the Adais

Method:

Wash and soak the rices in one container with plenty of water. One can also use just one type of rice; I like to incorporate whole grains wherever I possibly can.

Sort the dals to remove debris or small rocks; wash and soak the dals together in a separate container. Both the rices and the dals should be soaked for about 2 to 3 hours. Or soak overnight if you are preparing the adais in the morning.

Drain the rice, rinse and grind using a blender with just enough water(about 1/2 cup) to make an almost smooth paste. This process may have to be done in 2 batches. Remove to a large mixing bowl. Place chilies, ginger, spices, salt and the drained and rinsed dals in the blender container with about 1/2 cup of water to blend. Grind the dals coarsely and mix with the ground rice. Rinse the blender with a few tablespoons of water and add to the batter. Mix well to make a moderately thick batter; add a little more water if necessary. All together no more than 2 cups of water should be used. The above amount of rice and dals makes about 6 cups of batter.
Let the batter rest while the griddle is getting heated. If you are not making the adais right away, the batter should be refrigerated until ready to use.

Heat a non-stick skillet or a seasoned cast iron griddle until hot. Scrunch up a clean sheet of paper towel and lightly dip in cooking oil and wipe the griddle or skillet to coat with oil. When the griddle is hot (a flick of a water droplet will sizzle and dry up within a few seconds) pour 1 tablespoon of the batter and drizzle a few drops of oil around it. This first adai is the tester to see the consistency of the batter and also can be tasted to see if it is seasoned well. As soon as the edges change color, use a thin spatula to loosen the edges and bottom. Turn to cook the other side. Remove to a plate; taste; adjust the seasonings to the batter if you wish.

Wipe the griddle with the oily paper towel between making adais or whenever there are little particles sticking to the griddle. Pour about a half cup or so of the batter in the center of the griddle and quickly spread the batter outwards with the back of the spoon in a spiral (circular) motion into a nice round pancake about 8 to 9 inches in diameter. It will be a thick pancake. Drizzle a few drops of oil all around and let cook for a minute. Loosen edges and bottom carefully and flip over to cook the top side. Remove when the other side is golden brown. Adjust the heat so that the adais cook in about one minute per side. Serve hot off the griddle while it is still crispy around the edges.

The traditional sides for the fresh adais are the Indian brown sugar called Gud (also called Jaggery) or honey and fresh, unsalted butter. Adais are great all by themselves or any number of other sides such as jams or preserves, chutneys, and Indian pickles. My family loves them with steaming mugs of Masala Chai.

Note: On the first day Adais are made with the fresh batter and are served with fresh unsalted butter and honey or Gud (Indian brown sugar).

The leftover batter ferments on standing. So on the second day the adais are a bit tangy and are served with Mulaga Podi (a classic South Indian Dry Chutney) or another hot chutney or pickle instead of butter/gud/honey. Sometimes chopped onions and/or cabbage or spinach are mixed with the fermented batter to make veggie adais.

Or one can make wonderful muffin-like Vellai Appam or Morappam with the fermented batter which make lovely snacks anytime especially with a hot cup of Masala Chai in the afternoon. I add lots of finely chopped or grated veggies to boost the nutrition and taste. To make Vellai Appam or Mor Appam one needs a special pan; the Scandinavian ableskiever pan is perfect for this.

For making Kunukku, tablespoons of the above batter are simply deep fried until golden brown and served with a chutney or ketchup.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dosa (Indian Rice and Lentil Crepes)

Don't let the name 'crepe' make one think these are humdrum or flavorless. They are light, lacy and delectable, slightly crispy and so flavorful that one just has to taste to experience. There are many kinds of dosas made with diverse ingredients which are eaten from breakfast to midnight snack. This is simply our home version. They are traditionally eaten for breakfast or with afternoon tea in South India but are popular anytime. Dosas can be served plain or filled accompanied by diverse side dishes of curries, chutneys, and sauces.

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked raw rice (any type)
2/3 cups skinless Urad dal, whole or split
2 tsp Fenugreek seeds (Methi)
2 tsp Salt
2 or 3 Tbsp Oil

Method:

Check the dal for debris or little rocks and remove them. Wash the rice, dal and fenugreek seeds together and soak in plenty of water to cover for a few hours or overnight. Drain and rinse with fresh water. Grind to a fine paste in a blender using just enough water to ease the grinding process. This may have to be done in 2 or 3 batches so as not to overload the blender container. Pour into a large container and at the end rinse the blender container with a few spoons of water to get all of the batter. Add salt and mix well. The batter should be about the consistency of a moderately thick pancake batter. Add a little more water as necessary. Cover and let sit in a draft free place for a few hours or overnight to ferment. The batter will rise so make sure the batter container has plenty of room.

Use a seasoned cast iron griddle or a nonstick skillet for making the dosa. Scrunch up a sheet of paper towel into a thick wad and dip it lightly in a little oil and wipe the skillet or griddle to coat lightly with the oil. If a drop of water flicked on the skillet sizzles and dries up within a few seconds, it is hot enough to start cooking.

The first dosa is a tester - for checking the heat of skillet and the consistency and seasoning of the batter. Pour only a tablespoon of the batter in the center of the griddle and drizzle with a few drops of oil all around it close to the edges. When you see bubbles forming and breaking and the edges change color, it is time to flip over to cook the other side. Slide a thin spatula under the edges and loosen it. Then swiftly slide the spatula under the whole dosa and flip and cook for about a minute. Test to check the seasoning. Adjust seasoning and also consistency of the batter by stirring in additional water if the batter is thick.

Pour about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter in the middle of skillet/griddle; quickly spread the batter with the back of the spoon in a spiral outwards to make a thin pancake about 8 or 9 inches in accordance with the size of your pan. Drizzle a few drops of oil all around the edges of the dosa. It cooks pretty quickly. Loosen the edges and the bottom and quickly flip over to cook the top side. Altogether it should only take about 2 minutes at the most to cook one dosa. If the dosas are thick and heavy, thin the batter with a little water.

Wipe the griddle with the oily paper towel wad every once in a while to prevent the dosas from sticking. With practice one will be able to turn out very thin and delicious dosas. Fold the dosas in half and stack them as you cook. Serve hot. The leftover batter can be refrigerated for later use.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cabbage Thoran (Shredded Cabbage With Fresh Coconut)

Thoran is generally a dry Slaw-like vegetable dish with coconut. Quick-cooking Cabbage Thoran is a classic dish delicately spiced with the traditional Kerala flavors of coconut, chili and cumin seeds. Cumin seeds must be freshly crushed; ready made ground cumin just will not do. Urad dal is often used as a seasoning in South Indian cooking; the roasted dal gives the dishes a mild nutty flavor as well as adding a protein boost. Urad dal is a creamy whilte split and skinless bean about the size of a short rice grain. 

Cabbage thoran is served with everyday meals as well as major feasts. The only time consuming part in making this vegetable is the fine chopping! This mild dish is well liked by even little children.

Ingredients:

1 small green Cabbage
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 green chili
1/4 cup freshly grated coconut
1 tsp cumin
1 dry Red Chili
1 tsp salt or to taste

Tadka/Thalippu

1 or 2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1/2 tsp brown Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
1 pinch Asafoetida (optional)
1 sprig fresh Curry Leaves

Method:

Finely shred or chop the cabbage. Slit the end of the green chili. Break the red chili and shake out and discard the seeds to reduce its spiciness. Coarsely crush the cumin seeds and red chili in a mortar with the pestle then add coconut and crush to mix. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the mustard seeds and urad dal. Cover and cook until mustard seeds slow down popping. Quickly add the asafoetida if using and the curry leaves and green chili. Stir for a few seconds until the chili and curry leaves are softened slightly. Stir in the shredded or chopped cabbage, turmeric, and the salt. Cook stirring frequently until the cabbage softens. Stir in the coconut and cook for a few more minutes. Serve hot with rice or chapati and any dal or rasam for a simply delicious meal.

Variations:

Frozen or dessicated coconut can be substituted for the fresh. One or two shredded carrots and/or fresh or frozen peas could be stirred in with the cabbage.