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

Sprouted Ragi Dosa

A variety of grains are cultivated in India. The best way to taste and experience grain varieties is to travel through villages. Rice and wheat (which is what most people in the city consume) is a luxury for most villagers. Villagers survive on cheaper millets such as bajra (pearl millet), jowar (sorghum), nachni (finger millet/ragi), etc. Generally labeled as food for the poor, these humble yet powerhouse grains rich in minerals are the secret to the villagers’ health and longevity. These grains are diabetic-friendly and gluten-free too!

Ragi is staple food of many villages in south India and Maharashtra. Ragi is the first solid food that is given to most South Indian kids. Ragi is rich in calcium and an excellent source of fiber. Most families living in villages include ragi in some form or the other in their everyday meal. Authentic Karnataka ragi recipes include Ragi Mudde and Ragi Roti. Bakhri of Maharashtra is an equivalent of ragi roti of Karnataka. City markets have sophisticated items like ragi cookies, biscuits, khakra, and even ragi puttu powder! Popped ragi powder called ragi huri hittu is also something found in city markets and can be used to make sweets. Ragi malt drink is a popular in many Udupi restaurants. Ragi dosa is also popular although not very commonly seen in restaurants.

One way of making ragi dosa is to get readymade ragi flour from the market and make instant ragi dosas that do not require fermentation. But I wanted to make it using whole grains and try sprouting the grain. The process is time consuming but the taste and feeling of satisfaction makes it a truly worthy experience. Sprouting ragi takes roughly 32 hours (depending on the climate in your region). This dosa batter needs fermentation. So plan for your sprouted ragi dosa at least 2 days in advance.

Ingredients:
For Batter:
Ragi – 1 cup
Raw rice – 2 cups (I used unpolished red raw rice)
Urad dal – 3/4 cup
Salt to taste

For Mixing In Batter:
Chopped onion – ½ cup
Green chilly – 2
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – 1/2 cup

For Dosa:
Cooking Oil as needed

Method:
Sprouting Ragi:
Wash and clean the ragi grains in water. Soak the grain overnight/8 hrs in a wide mouthed vessel. Colder climates may need more soaking time. After 8 hrs of soaking, remove excess water. Close the vessel using a thin wet cotton cloth. Leave it to rest for 10-12 hrs or up to 24 hrs. Within 10-12 hrs, you will notice sprouts appearing. The length of the sprouts will depend on the climate in your region. Since it’s cold at this time here, I could get only tiny sprouts.

Roughly 6 hrs before you want to make the batter, soak 2 cups of raw rice and 3/4 cup of urad dal separately. After 6 hrs, drain excess water. When your ragi sprouts are also ready, it’s time to make the batter.

Making batter:
Grind the urad dal to a smooth paste. Then grind raw rice and sprouted ragi and mix with ground urad dal. Add salt. Mix well using your hand (this aids in fermentation). Leave undisturbed overnight (8-10 hrs). Fermentation causes batter to rise. Ensure that you choose a vessel that has some space to allow the batter to rise. After 8-10 hrs the batter would have risen and is ready to be used.

Chop onions, curry leaves, coriander leaves, and green chillies finely. Add to the sprouted ragi dosa batter. Crush cumin seeds and add it to the batter. If you like the plain variety, you could avoid this step. Mix well.

Making Dosa:
Heat an iron griddle. When the griddle is adequately hot, turn fire to low, pour a drop of oil on the griddle, and spread it around using a cotton cloth. Take a ladle full of batter and using the flat bottom part of the ladle to spread the batter. Close the dosa on the griddle using a lid. Since raw rice is used in this batter, closing it with a lid aids in dosa getting cooked faster and makes it soft yet crispy. Turn the heat up to medium and cook the dosa for about half a minute. Remove the lid. When you see that the dosa edges have turned crisp and leaves the sides, drizzle half a teaspoon oil and flip over. Cook the other side for about half a minute. Remove from fire. Serve with sambhar, chutney, or podi. When served with sambhar, sprouted ragi dosa becomes a healthy and wholesome meal. Try experimenting and including this poor man’s grain in your diet. Benefits are many!

Breakfast, Dosas, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Uthappam, The South Indian Rice Pizza

Uthappam, for most people, is thick dosa made from dosa/idli batter. But at home uthappam is made from special uthappam batter and is eaten with fiery shallot and red chilly chutney. Fenugreek seeds up the health quotient of uthappam.
Restaurant uthappams are topped with chopped onions, green chillies, tomatoes, curry leaves, and coriander leaves but plain uthappams are very tasty too. I prefer plain uthappams because I relish the flavor of fenugreek. Uthappams are an any-time-of-the-day meal and make a complete meal in itself when served with sambar.

Ingredients:
For grinding:ingredients
Parboiled rice (ukhda chawal/puzhukkal ari) – 3 cups
Fenugreek seeds (methi seeds/uluva) – 1/3 cup (6 tsps)
Raw rice – 2 tablespoons
Black gram dehusked (Urad dal/uzhunnu parippu) – 2 tablespoons
Salt – as needed

For cooking:
Oil – 1 tbsp per uthappam

Method:
Wash all the ingredients together in water and soak for about 8 hours/overnight. Grind to make a coarse paste. Uthappam batter should not be finely ground. Allow the batter to ferment (by keeping in a warm place) for about 10-12 hours. Uthappam batter does not “rise” like the dosa/idli batter because it contains very little lentil.

Heat a griddle. Pour half a tablespoon of oil. Pour a ladleful of uthappam batter on to this oil. Spread lightly to make a thick small round. Sprinkle half tablespoon oil on the spread batter.
If you prefer to add a topping to your uthappam, you can do that at this stage. Toppings can be finely chopped onions, tomatoes, curry leaves, and coriander leaves.

Allow to cook in medium heat for a minute. When the sides turn golden brown and crisp, flip it over.Let it cook for a minute. Remove the uthappam from the griddle and serve with sambar, chutney, or milaga podi (dry chutney powder).

Ideal combination for uthappam is the fiery shallot chutney. Soak 4-5 dry red chillies in water for half an hour and grind these along with 10-12 peeled shallots. Add salt and a teaspoon of coconut oil. This chutney should ideally be ground using a stone grinder to get the authentic taste. The combination of the fenugreek-flavor-dominant uthappam and the fiery shallot chutney is irresistible! Guaranteed that you will not stop short of gobbling up at least 5 of these!

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

Bajra Dosa

A healthy, nutritious, protein dosa made from sprouted bajra.

Ingredients:

sprouted bajra and urad dalFor batter:
Bajra whole grain (millet, kambu): 2 cups
Urad dal: 1 cup
Salt to taste

For dosa:
Gingely oil/groundnut oil : 1 tsp

Preparation Time: 24 hrs.

Cooking Time: 5min.

Method:
Wash and soak bajra overnight/8 hrs. Drain the water and leave it as is for half an hour to one hour. Take a clean cotton cloth and put the bajra in this cloth and cover. Sprinkle water on this cotton cloth and ensure that it is wet. After about 12-15 hrs, you can see nice sprouts. Soak urad dal in water for about 4 hrs. Grind sprouted bajra and urad dal together to make a fine paste. Add salt and water and dilute. The batter should be of the normal dosa batter consistency. You can ferment the batter if preferred.

Place the griddle on the stove. Heat griddle and pour about a full ladle of batter on to the griddle. Spread the batter around carefully using the bottom of the ladle. Cook in medium flame for about 30-40 sec. When the edges get crisp, pour 1 tsp oil, and flip over the dosa. Lower the flame and cook for around 15 seconds. Remove dosa from the girdle. Protein dosa is ready. Serve with hot sambhar or chutney.

Trivia:
Bajra is packed with nutrients and minerals. Sprouted bajra dosa is rich in proteins and is good for the colon. This is a very good way for vegetarians to include protein in their diet.

You can make this dosa without sprouting the bajra also. The taste remains more or less same, only the nutrition quotient will be less compared to the sprouted dosa.

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Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Indian, Kerala Recipes, Vegan

Kerala Style Chammanthi Podi (Dry Coconut Chutney)

Spicy, roasted coconut chutney powder that tastes great with rice. Contains no oil. This is different from the chutney powder that is eaten with idli and dosa.


Ingredients:
Urad dal (without skin) – 300 gm
Raw rice* – 2 tsp
Coconut (greated) – 1 medium-sized coconut
Asafetida (powder/chunks) – 1 tsp
Dry red chilies – 20 (adjust to taste)
Tamarind – a lemon-sized ball
Black peppercorns* – 1 tsp
Salt – As required

* In case any of these ingredients are unavailable, check the alternate ingredients section for other options.

Alternatives:
Peppercorns and rice are optional. Those who do not prefer pepper can use red chillies alone.

Preparation Time: 10min.
Cooking Time: 40min.

Method:

Heat up a pan (preferably iron). Add the urad dal and raw rice. Dry roast these two ingredients until golden brown. Constant stirring is required. Add the red chillies, black peppercorns, and the asafetida powder towards the end. If you are using asafetida chunks, you may need to add it around 5 minutes beforehand. Turn off the fire when the urad dal and rice turn golden brown. Remove the ingredients from the pan and spread on a plate to cool the ingredients.

Place the pan on fire again and roast the grated coconut until golden brown. This is to remove all moisture content and improve the shelf life of the podi. Turn off the fire and empty the roasted coconut on to the plate along with the other ingredients. Put the tamarind into the pan while the pan is still hot. Do not light the fire. This will help to remove the moisture content in the tamarind.


After the ingredients have cooled, grind the roasted ingredients well along with salt. Empty the ingredients onto a plate and let it cool. Taste and adjust the salt and chilly if required. Make sure that you roast the red chillies before you add it to the podi. Store the podi in a dry bottle.


List of accompaniments:
Enhances the taste of rice. This is like a dry pickle. Its granular texture adds punch to your lunch. This podi has a shelf life of around a month and is a good gift for those special loved ones.

Trivia:
Constant stirring is required while you are roasting the ingredients. You cannot afford to answer phone calls/doorbells while you are at it 🙂

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