Saturday, August 5, 2017

Kaima/Kothu Idli, Podi Idli, Idli Upma & Idli Chaat (Leftover Idli Makeovers)

Leftover idlis got a fabulous make-over by reinventing them as Kaima Idli, Idli Chaat, Podi Idli, and Idli Upma, etc.  Although typically made from leftover idlis, they are amazingly tasty and make great starters, snacks, or even meals. My family loves Kaima, Chaat, Podi, and Upma variations and make a meal of them!

Kaima Idli was apparently popularized in a South Indian restaurant; now they are not only made and served in many Southern as well as Northern Indian restaurants everywhere in various avatars including Idli Chaat. I have eaten different versions and all were delicious.

Notes: Make the tomato suace first and when ready to serve, you can fry the idlis and mix with sauce.
The tomato sauce is absolutely delicious and may be served as a sidedish with any meal; I like to make double or triple the amount to have extra.

Kaima Idli
Cold idlis are best for frying/baking. When there are lots of leftover idlis, one of these recipes can come in very handy! Idli Upma/Usli is the quickest and easiest and does not require much effort; the others require a little more prep. Except for the Idli upma/usli, the other recipes all start with either pan or deep fried idlis; the idlis may be baked as well.

The spices may be changed as a variation or to suit one's needs or preferences; instead of Sambar powder given in the recipe, you may wish to use Rasam Powder, Biriyani Masala or another spice mix.

Note: The following recipe makes delectable Kaima idli. But if making the onion-tomato sauce sounds like too much trouble, flavorful leftover curries like Kurma or your favorite may be used instead; just reheat the curry and mix the prepared idli pieces in it and you will have Kothu Idli!

Kaima Idli
4 Servings, but may only serve 2!

6-8 Idlies, chilled
Oil for pan/deep frying

2-3 tsp oil
½ tsp Mustard seeds
½ tsp Fennel seeds (optional)
2 stems curry leaves, thinly sliced
1 onion, diced
1-3 Hot green chiles, cored and minced
½ Green Bell Pepper, diced
½ tsp salt
½ - 1 tsp Sambar powder
½ tsp turmeric
2 large tomatoes, pureed coarsely
4 Green Onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Coriander leaves/Cilantro, chopped


Start making the sauce first. Heat the 2 teaspoons of oil in a kadai/skillet/pan and add the mustard & fennel seeds; when they subside popping, add the curry leaves; cover quickly as curry leaves will spatter violently when meeting hot oil. Wait for a few seconds for the curry leaves to change color and become crisp.

Add the green chiles, diced onions and bell pepper. Saute until the onions are soft. Add the turmeric and the sambar powder along with the salt. Cook for a minute.

Tip the tomato puree and cook till the tomatoes are cooked, about 5 minutes or so. Toss the fried idlies, spring onions and coriander leaves; gently fold to combine.

Remove from heat and serve hot. When eaten immediately, the idlies are a little crisp; but if served a little later, idlies soften and absorb more of the sauce. Both are delicious. Enjoy!

Prepare the idlis: Cold idlis are best for this; warm or room temp idlis stick and crumbly while frying. Cut each idli into half and halve them crosswise again for a total of 4 wedges.

If pan-frying, heat a seasoned cast iron or non-stick skillet with a little oil - about 1 teaspoon - and cook the idli pieces until golden brown on each side. Let the pieces cook on one side without disturbing until they are browned; then turn over gently and cook on the other sides adding a tiny drizzle of oil as necessary. I used about 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil.

If deepfrying, heat oil sufficient for deep frying; add the idlies to the hot oil. Do not try to turn or otherwise disturb the idli pieces; they will stick to the spoon and fall apart. When they are golden brown, only then flip to cook the other side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add to the sauce and serve.

Kaima Idli With Non-Dairy Yogurt
Idli chaat starts out the same as Kaima/Kothu Idli - cold ildis are cut and either pan or deep fried. Once you have the idli ready, this is easy peasy!

Idli Chaat with Green & Sweet Chutneys
4 Servings

6-8 Idlies, chilled
Oil for pan/deep frying

1 cup Plain Non-Dairy Yogurt
2-3 Tbsp Green Chutney
2-3 Sweet Chutney
2-3 Sev OR Bhujia (Crisp Indian Noodle Snack)
1 Tbsp Red Onions/Green Onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Coriander/Cilantro, finely chopped

Prepare the idlis: pan or deep fry them until browned; drain on paper towels.

Divide the yogurt among 4 small plates or bowls.

Plate the prepared idli pieces, drizzle with the chutneys, sprinkle the rest of toppings of green/red onions, cilantro, sev or bhujia etc, and voila! the Idli Chaat is ready!

                           Idli Chaat                                   
Serve and eat immediately! Enjoy!

For Podi Idli, make pararell cuts into each cold idli to get 4 long pieces, similar to french fries. They are so delicious on their own and do not need any embellishments. I pan-toasted these pictured here.

Podil Idli
4 Servings

6-8 Idlies, chilled
Oil for pan/deep frying
3-4 Tbsp Mulagai Podi

Coconut Chutney or Ketchup to serve (optional)


I pan fried the idlis here; deepfried are fine also. If pan-frying, heat a seasoned cast iron or non-stick skillet with a little oil - about 1 teaspoon - and cook the idli pieces until golden brown on each side. Let the pieces cook on one side without disturbing until they are browned; then turn over gently and cook on the other sides adding a tiny drizzle of oil as necessary. I used about 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil.

While the idli pieces are hot after browning, sprinkle the mulagai podi and toss and stir to coat completely. Serve warm or at room temperature. Accompany with coconut chutney or ketchup if desired. Enjoy!
Podi Idli
This is easiest of all idli make-overs that does not require any cooking at all. Simple and perfect for children or cooking challenged :-). At its simplest form it has only 3 ingredients; but if one is inclined to fancy it up a bit, some sauteed onions, peppers, peas, etc may be added and served garnished with some green onions or cilantro or both.

4 Servings

6-8 Leftover Idlies, reheated, cooled, and crumbled
1-2 Tbsp Oil, Indian Sesame preferably
1-3 Tbsp Mulagai Podi

Chop or crumble the cold idlis. The idlis should be reheated well if they are cold; when cold, the starch in the idlis become shrunk, grainy or tuff.

Sprinkle them with a little water and either steam them or reheat them in the microwave oven. Let cool a little so they are no longer hot and sticky; hot idlies would turn to mush if they are handled too much.

Drizzle the oil over the idlies and sprinkle the molaga podi on top; toss and mix until combined thoroughly.  That's it! Eat! Enjoy!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Mysore Rasam (Curry Leaf & Coconut-Scented Tomato Soup With Spices)

Here is another Rasam recipe! Mysore Rasam is another delicious rasam but with the fragrance of roasted coconut. Rasams are typically served clear after letting it settle a bit ending up with a thick sediment at the end from the dal and spices called "Mandi"; don't discard it - it is absolutely delicious mixed with plain rice or served with Yogurt Rice!

Mysore Rasam
Rasams are usually served along with rice in most homes for the second round after another dish like Sambar, Mor Kuzhambu, etc; but others serve it first with rice and then move on to the rest of the meal. Serve this rasam as you would the other types with rice and other accompanying simple vegetable curries, and Papadams. Enjoy it any way you like!

It is easier to make this and other rasams if you save a little dal when making other dishes like one of the Authentic or Simple Sambars, Pitla, Simple Dal, Molakootal, etc; usually about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the cooked dal would be plenty for one recipe. If you are not planning to use the dal within a couple of days, reserve in the freezer until needed. 
Byadagi or Kashmiri chiles are red as well as a bit milder and make a nice red-colored masala; if they are not readily available, use regular hot dried red chiles.
Canned or dried tomatoes work well when fresh tomatoes are not available.

Makes about 6 cups 


Fresh Masala - Roast and Grind:
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
1 tbsp Channa dhal
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Peppercorns
1-2 Red chiles
2 tbsp Dried Grated Coconut

1/4 cup Toor dal 
1-2 Tomatoes, chopped
1 stems Fresh Curry Leaves, torn and crushed by hand
3 tbsp Fresh Coriander/Cilantro, finely chopped 
2 tbsp dried Tamarind OR 1 Tbsp paste + 1 cup of water
1 tsp Salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Jaggery

1 tsp Oil
1-2 Red chiles
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 big pinch Asafetida
1 stems Fresh Curry Leaves, finely sliced

A handful of fresh Coriander/Cilantro


Pick over, wash and soak the dal for about 30 minutes. Drain, rinse, and cook the dal with 1 1/2 cups of water. Pressure cooking the dal makes it go fast. Let it cool and mash it well adding a little water to make it 2 cups total.

Meanwhile dry roast the ingredients given under to roast and let it cool. Add 1/2 cup of water and grind it into smooth paste.

If using dried tamarind, soak the tamarind in about 1/2 cup of warm water for 10-15 minutes, knead well and extract the juice, repeat kneading and extracting 2 more times with 1/4 cup of water each time for a total of 1 cup of tamarind extract; discard solids. If using paste, add it directly to the pan with the water. Alternately, remove any seeds and tough fibers from the soaked tamarind and add to the roasted spices and grind together.

Use a 2-3 quart/liter saucepan, add the tamarind water, turmeric, salt, chopped tomatoes and the curry leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the ground paste; add a small amount of water to the blender to gather up the spice mixture and add to the pan. When it begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

Add the mashed dal along with 2 more cups of water and the jaggery. Simmer uncovered until it is foamy on top. Remove from heat.

Prepare the aromatic Thalippu: In a small pan/kadai heat oil; when hot, add mustard seeds, red chiles, and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds finish popping, stir in asafetida and carefully add curry leaves; cover quickly to avoid hot oil spashing. Turn off the heat immediately, let cool for about a minute, and carefully add to the rasam.

Twist and pinch the cleaned cilantro into small pieces and add to the rasam, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve hot with rice or by itself in mugs with papadams. Enjoy!!