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

Paniyaram

What your mother cooks for you always holds a special place in your heart. Everyone has a long list of items that they love about their mother’s cooking. I have my list of items too, right from the jeeraka vellam (jeera/cumin seeds flavored water) that she makes to unni appam, elai ada, avilu vilayichathu (sweet beaten rice), ada dosa, uluva dosa, uthappam, sambar, and the list grows. She has a very bad sweet tooth which she has passed on to me. So when making evening snacks, mostly she would stick to something sweet and she has ample support from me.

My mom’s sweet unni appam is well known among the friends and family circle. She had a salt equivalent to the sweet unniappam. This used to be made when she had exhausted options/ingredients. She would mix a little bit of churned curd to leftover idli batter, add some chopped onions, some garnish of curry leaves and coriander and fry this batter in oil. For lack of a better word, we used to call it morappam. Morappams had long been forgotten after I moved out of my parents’ home. It took me a trip to Chennai to revive the morappam memories.

The best thing about visiting a new place is getting the feel and taste of the local culture and cuisine. During my recent trip to Chennai, I gorged on fried paniyarams (the humble household morappam), Vazhappoo Vadai (Banana flower vadai), adai and avial, and other local specialities. Well, adai and avial has already been posted in Samagni. Adai and avial as a combination was new to me. When I thought about it, I realized it is a very clever combination of vegetables, dal, and carbs, a wholesome meal.

I tasted 2 varieties of paniyaram – one plain and the other spicy. I am told there are sweet paniyarams as well. Somebody please share the recipe for sweet paniyaram and vazhapoo vadai please!

Paniyarams are made in a frying pan that has pits. Batter is poured into these pits and steamed or fried. Made out of idli/dosa batter with or without extra ingredients, they taste great by themselves or when eaten with spicy chutney. They are a perfect monsoon snack and quick and easy to make.

Spongy Paniyaram

Ingredients
Idli batter – 250 gms
Onion – 1 big (finely chopped)
Green chilies – 2 (finely chopped)
Coriander – a bunch (finely chopped)
Curry leaves – 2 stalks (finely chopped)
Tomato – 1 (finely chopped) This is optional

Method
Add a teaspoon of oil in a small kadai. When the oil gets heated, add mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the finely chopped green chilies and shallots. Sauté for 2-3 mins.
Turn off the fire and let it cool a bit.
Once this seasoning cools down, add it to the idli batter along with chopped curry leaves and coriander leaves. Mix well.

Refer here for idli batter recipe.

Pour half a teaspoon oil into the paniyaram mold pits. Mix the batter well and pour small quantities of batter into the mold pits.

Cook them in a paniyaram mold

Cook in medium heat for a minute or more. When the sides turn brown, flip over using a wooden/steel stick. Ensure that both sides are cooked properly. Remove from fire. Serve hot with chutney.

This is the steamed variety hence healthier. If you would like your paniyarams deep fried, you could fill the paniyaram mold pits with oil and deep fry the batter. This is tastier and crispier.

Crunchy Paniyaram made from adai batter

I tried making paniyaram with adai batter and it turned out to be excellent. While paniyarams made with idli batter are spongy, adai batter paniyarams are crunchy and crispy. Do try them out or else make a trip to Chennai.

Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Sharkara Varattti (Jaggery-coated Banana Chips)

Mildly spiced sweet chips synonymous with Onam, an indispensable item in sadya (feast).

Sweet and salted banana chips

IngredientsIngredients:
Raw plantains (large) – 5 Nos
Jaggery (Sharkkara/achu vellam) – 10 Nos (2 pieces of jaggery per plantain)
Cardamom (Elakkai, elaichi) – 5 nos
Dry ginger powder (soonth, chukku) – 1 tbsp
Coconut oil – 250 gm
Sugar – 2-3 tbsp
Water – enough to immerse the plantains

Raw plantains

Preparation Time: 30 mins.
Cooking Time: 30 mins.

Sliced raw plantainMethod:
Peel the skin of the plantains and put them in water. Peeling will become easier if you make 3 or 4 vertical cuts on the plantain peel. Keep the plantains immersed in water for around half an hour. Drain the water and pat dry the plantains. While holding the plantain vertically, cut the middle splitting the plantain into two long pieces and then cut into quarter inch sized pieces.

Deep fried raw plantain piecesHeat oil in a wide pan (preferably uruli, brass vessel). Bring it to boil. Put the plantain pieces into the boiling oil. You need to stir them continuously the first minute to keep them from sticking to each other. Cook in medium to low fire until the pieces start turning brown. If the pieces are not properly cooked/crisp, the chips will be soggy. So have patience to cook the pieces until they are crisp. Remove the pieces from the oil using a strainer and spread them on tissue paper to absorb excess oil. Keep aside.

Dissolve jaggery in water and bring this to a boil. When the boil settles down and the mixture becomes thick (one-string consistency), add the fried plantain pieces and keep stirring. You can be sure that the consistency is right if you see thin jaggery threads forming while you stir the fried plantain pieces. Add powdered cardamom and dry ginger powder and mix well. After a minute or so, sprinkle the sugar and stir well. Like magic, you will see the wet and sticky jaggery syrup turning dry and the pieces separating. Voila, it’s ready!

DSC00065

Trivia:
This is preparation unique to Kerala. Sharkara varatti is a must for wedding feasts and all types of feasts. I have noticed that it is very popular even among non-keralites. Try it and you will know why.

To those of you who are wondering how different a plantain is from a banana, click here.

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