Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Traditional Mor Kali (Coconut-Scented Savory Rice Cake)

Mor Kali is an old-fashioned, home-style South Indian snack. Although called mor kali, this recipe has no mor (buttermilk) in it and is a naturally vegan recipe; not does it need any since the batter is fermented and is naturally a little tart. It is another instance of our foremothers being thrifty as well as innovative with leftovers. Mor Kali was often made with leftover batter from making Verum Arisi Dosai or Adai, a rice and coconut pancake; but since most everyone loves it, it was made at other times too without waiting for leftover batter. 

When batter becomes fermented, it devolps a lovely tart taste which is highly prized in Idli/Dosa/Aappam batters.

NOTES: Although Indian Sesame oil is the best for preparing Mor Kali, any vegetable oil may be used. If Indian sesame oil is not available, a couple of drops of Chinese sesame oil may be added at the end of cooking to add aroma.

I have used green chiles instead of the dried yogurt chillies (thair or mor milagai) typically used. Leave the cores in if you like the kali to be spicy.

I love the chewy dals in the kali. Others may prefer a more homogenous kali that glides effortlessly through the throat into the stomach; so if a smoother kali is prefered, the dals may be omitted without unduly diminishing the taste.

4 Servings


1 cup Parboiled Rice
¼ cup Coconut fresh/frozen OR 2 Tbsp dessicated
1 tsp Salt
2 tablespoon Sesame/vegetable oil
½ teaspoon Mustard seeds
1 teaspoon split white Urad dal
1 teaspoon split yellow Chana dal
2-3 hot Green Chiles, cored and minced
2 sprigs Curry leaves, chopped
1-2 pinches Asafoetida


Grind the dry rice into a coarse powder first; this helps to ease the grinding process after soaking.

Soak the rice in water for 24 hours; grind the rice along with coconut with a little extra water if needed. Mix in the salt and set aside to ferment in a draft free place for 24 hours.

The batter will smell sour and maybe a little foamy. Add water to dilute; it should be a thin batter, total amount should be approximately 1 liter or a little more than a quart after mixing.

Lightly oil a thali or a cake pan and keep it ready.

Heat oil in a pan and add in the mustard seeds and let it pop. Add in the urad and chana dals. Let the dals turn pinkish gold. 

Carefully add the curry leaves (they tend to spatter, so cover quickly), chiles and asafoetida. Cook briefly for a few seconds. 

Tip in the batter, cook stirring on medium heat. The batter will keep thickening. Keep stirring until it has thickened and does not stick to the pan anymore. Cover and let it steam on low heat for about 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat and spread on an oiled plate. Let it cool. Cut into squares and serve at room temperature.

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