Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets

Vella Cheedai / Sweet Cheedai – Deep Fried Sweet Balls

Salt Seedai / Cheedai as well sweet cheedai is made during Gokulashtami as a Naivedyam to Lord Krishna. Sweet cheedai is slightly tricky to get right. If your proportions are not right, they might break apart while frying. But using the proportion mentioned below you can make good sweet cheedai. Vellai cheedai are crispy but soft to bite into as opposed to salt cheedais that are dense and hard to bite into.

Ingredients:
Raw rice flour – 1 cup
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Grated jaggery – 3-4 tbsp (adjust to taste)
Butter – 1 tbsp
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Sesame seeds – 2 tsp
Oil (for frying) – 300-400 ml
Water as needed

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30-35 mins (7 mins per batch)
Makes 200 gm Cheedai

Method:
Dry roast the raw rice flour until the raw smell of the rice goes away and you get a nice roasted aroma.
Remove from fire and sieve to ensure that the powder is fine and no lumps are present.
Dry roast the urad dal until the dal turns pink. Remove from fire and pulse in a mixer to a fine powder.
Sieve the urad dal flour twice to ensure that you take only the fine powder and you discard the coarse powders.
Grind the grated coconut to make a coarse paste. It is okay even if the coconut is not fully ground. You may add small quantities of water while grinding.
Add the grated jaggery powder to a pan and mix few spoons of water. (Be careful about the amount of water. Do not dilute it too much). Place on low fire to let the jaggery melt. Once melted, use a strainer to sieve any lumps/impurities.
Mix a tablespoon of sieved, finely powdered urad dal flour along with the sieved rice flour. Add the ground coconut, jaggery syrup, butter, and sesame seeds to this. Use your fingers to mix the flour and jaggery well.
Add small quantities of water if needed to make a dough. The dough should be soft but not loose.
Take a small portion of the dough, place this dough on your left hand and use the long three fingers on the right hand to roll the dough into marble-sized balls. Place them on a paper. It is recommended that you allow this to dry a bit before you deep fry them.
Heat oil in an iron kadai.
Once the oil is hot, gently and carefully drop a batch of the marble-sized dough balls into the oil. Ensure that the balls are fully immersed in oil. Retain the fire in medium in the beginning for about a minute. You will notice a lot of bubbles during this time. When the bubbles reduce, lower the fire and stir often until the balls change color to golden brown.
Use a strainer ladle to remove the cheedai from the oil. Place on an absorbent paper to absorb excess oil.
Store in an air tight container once it cools down.

Notes:
1. Sieve the flour at least twice to ensure that the rice flour and urad dal flour used is finely powdered. This will ensure there are no accidental oil splashes while frying the cheedai.
2. Although it is recommended that the rolled cheedai balls should dry off a bit before they are deep fried, you need not roll the entire dough into balls and then start the frying process. You may roll enough for 2-3 batches, start frying batch by batch and as you are frying, you may roll new batches of cheedai.
3. Use a thick bottomed iron kadai for frying to ensure uniform heating.
4. While deep frying, maintain the flame first in medium and then in low
stirring occasionally.
5. Due to the jaggery in the dough, vella cheedai tends to turn black in excess heat. Be careful about the amount of heat or you will end up burning the cheedai.
6. Vella cheedais are not as crispy as salt cheedai. The outer crust will be crisp but inside may be a little chewy.
7. Following the proportions and instructions right is key to getting this right.

Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian

Salt Cheedai / Uppu Cheedai – Deep Fried Savory Balls

Seedai / Cheedai is made during Gokulashtami as a Naivedyam to Lord Krishna. Apart from festival celebrations, it is associated with a lot of fond memories for me. It is one of my favorite savory items. Hard yet crunchy, peppery along with the taste of cumin seed and a hint of hing and coconut. Well worth the effort. Amma often makes it at home. Since it is time consuming to shape the cheedai into balls, she always makes it when all of us are available to help. Even grandma used to join. But today I made this all by myself and it was not tough at all to make cheedai with two cups of rice flour. I could manage time very well by simultaneously frying as well as rolling the dough.

Although cheedai is easy to make, it is also slightly tricky because if you do not do things the right way, the chances are more that you will not get it right or something might go seriously wrong, for example, cheedai bursting inside the hot oil and causing oil splash. For this reason, one needs to be really careful while attempting to make this.

Ingredients:
Raw rice flour – 1 cup
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Butter – 1 tbsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black peppercorns – 6-8
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Sesame seeds – 2 tsp
Asafetida powder – 1/4 tsp
Oil (for frying) – 300-400 ml
Salt as needed
Water as needed

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30-35 mins (7 mins per batch)
Yield 300 gm Cheedai

Method:
Dry roast the raw rice flour until the raw smell of the rice goes away and you get a nice roasted aroma.
Remove from fire and sieve to ensure that the powder is fine and no lumps are present.
Dry roast the urad dal until the dal turns pink. Remove from fire and pulse in a mixer to a fine powder.
Sieve the urad dal flour twice to ensure that you take only the fine powder and you discard the coarse powders.
Grind the grated coconut along with the jeera and black peppercorns to make a coarse paste. You may add small quantities of water.
Mix a tablespoon of sieved, finely powdered urad dal flour along with the sieved rice flour. Add the ground coconut, cumin, and pepper paste into the flours, add sesame seeds, asafetida powder, salt, and butter. Use your fingers to mix the flour and powders well.
Add small quantities of water to make a dough. The dough should be soft and firm but not loose.
Take a small portion of the dough, place this dough on your left hand and use the long three fingers on the right hand to roll the dough into tiny marble-sized balls. Place them on a paper. It is recommended that you allow this to dry a bit before you deep fry them.
Heat oil in an iron kadai.
Once the oil is hot, gently and carefully drop a batch of the marble-sized dough balls into the oil. Retain the fire in medium in the beginning for at least 2 mins. You will notice a lot of bubbles during this time. When the bubbles reduce, lower the fire and stir occasionally until the balls change color to golden brown. Use a strainer ladle to remove the cheedai from the oil. Place on an absorbent paper to absorb excess oil.
Store in an air tight container once it cools down.

Notes:
1. Sieve the flour at least twice to ensure that the rice flour and urad dal flour used is finely powdered. This will ensure there are no accidental oil splashes while frying the cheedai.
2. Although it is recommended that the rolled cheedai balls should dry off a bit before they are deep fried, you need not roll the entire dough into balls and then start the frying process. You may roll enough for 2-3 batches, start frying batch by batch and as you are frying, you may roll new batches of cheedai.
3. Use a thick bottomed iron kadai for frying to ensure uniform heating.
4. While deep frying, maintain the flame first in medium and then in low stirring occasionally.
5. Following the proportions and instructions properly is key to getting this right.

Bachelor-friendly, Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Milaga Pachadi (Green Chilies in Spicy Tangy Gravy)

P7113101.JPGA spicy, tangy, and mildly sweet curry that goes well with rice, idli, dosa, or even roti.

Ingredients:
Green Chilies – 12 to 15
Tamarind – a big lemon size
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Jaggery – 1 tsp
Oil – 1/2 tsp
Water as needed
Salt to taste

For Grinding:
Grated coconut – 1-1/2 cups
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

For Seasoning:
Oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tbsp
Curry Leaves – 2 sprigs

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves 4

Method:
Add half a cup of warm water to the tamarind and let it soak. This is to help extract maximum juice from the dry tamarind. Keep this aside for 10 mins.
Use a mixer to grind the grated coconut along with a teaspoon of mustard seeds to a fine paste. Keep aside.
Cut (halve) the green chilies.
Heat half a teaspoon oil in an pan. Add the split green chilies and saute until the raw smell goes away and the green side of the chilies get roasted.
Remove the pan from fire and keep a vessel containing a cup of water on fire. Add the chilies roasted in oil into the water in this vessel. Add turmeric powder and bring to boil. When the green chilies get cooked, they turn into pale green color.
Meanwhile, use your fingers to squeeze the juice out of the soaked tamarind. Strain and add to the cooked green chilies.
When the green chilies along with the tamarind water starts boiling, add the ground coconut and mustard seeds paste into it and stir.
Add the jaggery powder also. Stir and bring to boil.
Add salt and switch off the flame.
Heat oil in a pan and add half a teaspoon mustard seeds to it. When the mustard seeds crackle, turn off the fire, add curry leaves, and add this seasoning to the cooked curry. Serve hot with rice.

Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Millet Recipes, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Little Millet (Samai) Idli and Dosa

Little MilletMillets are one of the oldest food crop cultivated by man. Millets have much more calcium, protein, and iron than rice and wheat. These poor man’s grains are high in fiber, rich in minerals, low fat, and gluten free also. Millets are not just good for you but for the environment as well. Millets can grow in dry lands and even in poor soil quality. They need only one-fifth to one-tenth of the water that rice and wheat cultivation needs. As if these reasons werent enough, most millets are grown organically because they are naturally pest-resistant!
Yet, a word of caution. Just as too much of anything is not good, consuming too much millets is also not good for health. All millets, in general, have giotrogenic effects and hence people with thyroid related problems need to be careful about how much millet can be included in their diet. Please consult your dietitian/doctor about this.

Post World War 2, India experienced severe food scarcity. My mother still remembers having to modify their diet from the staple of rice to wheat and millets such as chama. Little millet / Chama can be used to make nutritious and tasty idli / dosa. The below recipe makes soft and fluffy idlis that remain so even after 4-5 hours.

Little millet dosa

Ingredients:
Little Millet (Same/Chama) – 2 cups
Whole Urad dal- 1/2 cup
Fenugreek seeds / vendhayam / uluva – 2 tsp
Beaten rice flakes / aval / avalakki / Poha – 1/2 cup
Water as needed
Salt to taste
Oil to grease the idli mould (I prefer sesame oil)

Preparation Time:
Soaking Time: 4-5 hours
Grinding Time: 20 mins
Steaming Time: 15 mins
Yield: About 30 idlis

Method:
Little millet idliPreparing the batter:
Wash the millet in water, drain, and soak in water overnight or for 4 to 5 hours.
Rinse, drain, and soak urad dal and 1½ teaspoon methi seeds together overnight or for 4 to 5 hours.
Five minutes prior to the grinding time, soak the beaten rice flakes in 1/2 – 3/4 cup water.

Drain the water from the soaked urad dal and methi seeds into a cup. Keep aside. You will need this while grinding.

Add the soaked urad dal and methi seeds into a mixer jar or a wet grinder. Add small quantities of the drained water from the urad dal and blend to make a smooth paste. Remove into a large deep bowl and keep aside.
Drain the water from the soaked millet. Discard the water. Add the soaked millet to the mixer/grinder. Add small quantities of water and grind to a smooth paste. Add soaked beaten rice flakes to this and grind well. Remove this mixture from the mixer and add this to the large deep bowl that contains the ground urad dal. Add adequate amount of salt. Use your right hand to mix the batter thoroughly. The batter should be neither too thin nor too thick.

Cover the bowl with a lid and keep the batter aside in a warm area for fermenting (approximately 8 hours but this may vary depending on regional temperature) If you live in colder regions, keep the area at a warm place, near a warm stove or place it inside the oven that was pre-heated to about 50 deg C and leave it overnight with the oven light on. The next morning, the batter would have risen well.

The next morning (or after 8 hours), stir the batter using a ladle and mix well.

Making idlis:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUse a cotton cloth to grease the idli molds with oil. Pour batter into each pit. Pour water into the steamer and gently lower the idli molds with batter into the steamer and close the lid. Steam for 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove the idli mold from the steamer and place the molds on the kitchen counter for at least a minute. This is important. If you try to nudge the idlis out of the mold while it is piping hot, you will break them.
After allowing the idlis in the mold to cool off for about a minute, use a sharp edged spoon dipped in water to nudge the idlis at the edges and gently remove them from the mold.

Serve hot, soft, and fluffy idlis with chutney, sambar, or the Kerala style vegetable stew.

Notes:
1. You can use the same batter to make crisp dosas also. You may need to add a little bit more water to the batter.
2. You can make idlis only on the first day of making the batter. If you refrigerate the batter and make idlis the next day also, you may not get the same soft and fluffy texture. The next day you may use the batter to make crisp dosas.

Pickles, South Indian, Vegan

Mango Ginger (Aam Haldi) Pickle

Mango ginger (Aam Haldi, Manga Inji, Curcuma Amada) is a unique spice that resembles ginger but tastes and smells like raw mango. It is an important spice in Ayurveda and has antibiotic, appetizer, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, and aphrodisiac properties among many others. Despite being a ginger hater, I am completely hooked to the distinct smell of this rare spice. Mango ginger is much milder compared to ginger with a light smell and flavor of raw mango. It is also not as fibrous, pale in color (both outside and inside), and has a much smoother and more regular outer surface compared to ginger and turmeric. The dried mango ginger powder, popularly known as aam chur, is the most common form of usage. But you can also pickle this amazing spice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIngredients:
Mango ginger – 100 gm
Green chilies – 3-4

For seasoning:
Gingely oil / Til oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Asafetida powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Curry leaves – 4-5
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 5 mins

Method:
Wash the mango ginger and scrape the skin.
Make thin slices (julienne) or grate the mango ginger as per your preference.
If you are making julienne of the ginger, make thin slices of the green chilies also. If you grated the mango ginger, chop / grate the green chilies finely. Mix well.
Heat a pan, add oil and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds crackle, add red chili powder, turmeric powder, and asafetida powder. Turn off the heat quickly so that the heat does not burn the spices. Tear the curry leaves and add to the pan.
Mix this seasoning to the ginger and green chilies mixture.
Add lemon juice and salt to taste. Mix well.
A pungent mango ginger pickle loaded with medicinal and nutritional value is ready. For best results store the pickle in a cool dry place for a day and start using the next day. Store in a refrigerator thereafter. Stays good for about a month. Serve with rice.

P.S. – For a simpler version, you can just mix grated ginger and finely chopped green chilies with lemon juice and salt and the pickle is ready.

Bachelor-friendly, Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Everyday Simple Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Ridge Gourd (Thurai) Thogayal

Thogayals are handy chutneys/accompaniments that can be used along with rice, rotis, and even dosas and idlis. They are a good ‘chakhna’ for rice gruel/kanji also. Ridge gourd may sound like a very unusual vegetable for a chutney. But, believe me, this tastes so good and you will love it.

Ingredients:
Ridge gourd deskinned and cut into piece – 3 cups
Urad dal – 3 tsbp
Whole dry red chilies – 5-6
Tamarind – 1 marble size
Asafetida – 1/4 tsp
Salt as needed
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Cooking oil – 1/2 tsp

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Makes 1-1/2 cups

Method:
Wash the ridge gourd thoroughly and remove the hard green skin. It is okay if small portions of the green skin remains. Cut it into long strips and then chop roughly into smaller pieces.
Place an iron wok on fire and add a oil. Add urad dal, whole dry red chilies broken into pieces, and asafetida and roast in a medium flame until urad dal changes to golden color. Remove from the pan and keep aside.
Add the chopped ridge gourd pieces into the same iron wok and cook for about 5 mins or so until the ridge gourd pieces turn tender and start oozing water. Turn off the fire and add the tamarind and let it soften in the remaining heat of the wok and lose it’s raw taste. Let it cool.
Use a mixer grinder and pulse the dry ingredients (roasted urad dal, red chilies, asafetida, and grated coconut) first to a smooth powder. Add the sauteed ridge gourd, tamarind, and salt and grind to a smooth paste. You may not need to add water while grinding as the ridge gourd has some water content. Serve along with rice or roti.

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Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, South Indian, Vegan

Kothamalli (Coriander Leaves) Chutney – Tamil Nadu Style

I have a distinct memory of the taste of the coriander chutney served with dosa at a restaurant in Thiruvannamalai. It did not have the raw green taste. I asked them how to make it. But, since I did not get the proportions right, it had not turned out well. So when I found out that my new domestic help belongs to Thiruvannamalai, I asked her what kinds of chutneys she makes at home for dosa and idli and she mentioned the coriander chutney. I asked her the method and from her description I could make out this is the same one I must have had at the restaurant. Got her to make it today morning and it was simply yum! I loved her style of cooking. She roasted the whole garlic cloves without chopping them. She has no hesitation about the quantity of ingredients. Unlike me, she was lavish about the quantity of oil and the amount of garlic. In the below recipe, I have reduced the amount of oil significantly. Unlike Navaratna chutney which is sap green in color has a raw taste, the color of this chutney is yellow green resembling pickled olives and has a cooked taste.

Ingredients:
For roasting and grinding
Coriander leaves – 2 cups (tightly packed)
Urad dal – 2 tbsp
Chana dal – 2 tbsp
Dry red chilies – 7-8 (adjust to taste)
Tomato – 2 medium
Garlic – 1 pod (8-10 cloves)
Coconut – 1-1/2 cups
Tamarind – lemon sized ball
Oil – 1 tsp

For Garnishing
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves – 1 sprig
Dry red chilies – 2
Oil – 1 + 1 tsp

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Makes 2 cups

Method:
Wash, drain, and chop coriander leaves. You may use the tender stems as well. They add to the flavor.
Heat oil in a pan and add chana dal. When they start sizzling and changing color, add the urad dal and saute until they start turning red.
Add garlic cloves (whole will do – no need to chop them), chopped tomato, dry red chillies and saute in medium flame for 5 minutes.
Add the coriander leaves and let them wilt a bit and turn dark green in color. Do not overdo this. Just let the leaves wilt and turn off the fire. If you overcook the coriander, the flavor will be lost.
Add tamarind and grated coconut and let this get lightly cooked in the residual heat of the pan.
Once the ingredients cool down, use a mixer to grind along with salt. You would not need to add water as the tomatoes and coriander would have some water content. Do not overgrind. Grind until the red chilies and the roasted dals have been ground well.
Now for garnishing, heat oil in the same pan and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, split the dry red chilies into two, add that and the curry leaves. Roast for less than a minute and then add the chutney to this pan. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes or so.
Turn off and transfer to a serving bowl.
Chutney is ready to be served with dosa, idli, roti, or even rice.

Notes: If you want to avoid garlic, you can substitute it with a half an inch piece of ginger.
You could skip the tomatoes and add a little more tamarind but using tomato and tamarind in the given proportion is recommended to balance the tart.

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