Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Vegan

Yam wafers

Have you eaten any wafers other than potato? Most people in India may have eaten banana wafers and if you have Malayali friends, chances are you have eaten tapioca wafers. Most people cannot think beyond potatoes! Come on, get out of that stupid potato shell. There are other amazing root vegetables out there!! I would prefer elephant yam to potato ANY day. Call it boasting, but I love yam the way I prepare it. Those of you who havent tried it yet, please do. You will discover yam is yum.

This time for Diwali, I made wafers, which is not a traditional Diwali sweet/savory item. During my routine visit to the Malayali shop (they are a common phenomenon here in Mumbai where I live. You will find one every 2-3 Kms or so) I saw some kachil, a type of yam that is found mostly in tropical countries. I had never seen anyone making chips out of these, but I thought of trying it out. So I cleaned, sliced, and fried them. The first batch turned out limp and soggy. I did not get disheartened. Tried adjusting the flame and then the next batch was perfect! For those of you who have made any other wafer, the process remains the same. Here’s how you can:

Ingredients:
Kachil (Yam) – As much as you have patience for
Oil (for deep frying) – 250 ml
Salt – 2 tbsp
Water – half a glass

Method:

Wash and clean the yam thoroughly and peel it. This part can be really painful as they are uneven, hairy, and muddy. Slice the yam to thin pieces using a slicer. Slice them on to a tissue paper (or a newspaper like some of us rustics do ;-)). Separate the sliced pieces so that they do not stick to each other. Mix the salt in half a glass of water and keep it aside.

Heat oil in a kadai. When the oil smell hits you and the oil is hot enough, adjust the flame to medium and then drop a bunch of sliced yam pieces (as much as the oil can hold) into the oil. Stir occasionally using a spatula. It takes at least 2 mins for the yam pieces to get cooked. You can gauge this when you stir using the spatula. You will feel the stiffness of the yam pieces which is very different from their soft feel on the spatula when they were fresh in the oil. At this stage take a tsp of the salt water and pour it into the hot oil. Ensure that you stand a little away from the kadai while doing this as this can cause oil to splutter. The salt water that you just poured into the hot oil with the clunky chips will cause some commotion (bubbles so to speak) in the oil. When the bubbles die down, remove the yam pieces from the oil and spread them on to a tissue paper (again, for some of us newspaper comes handy). Enjoy the chips with a garam glass of chai!

You can make wafers out of colacasia also. Which reminds me of some amazing dishes that can be made of colacasia stems! Colacasia stem avial…mmm…my all time favorite…slurp slurp. That post is reserved for another occasion.

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Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Side Dishes, South Indian

Avial

A healthy concoction of vegetables in mildly flavored coconut gravy, a stew of sorts, a must-have for feasts.

Avial

vegetablesIngredients:
Assorted vegetables cut in 1-1-/2 inch size – 500 gm
Water – 1/2 cup
Curd* – 1 cup
Curry Leaves – 2 stalks
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp

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

To grindTo grind:
Grated coconut – one cup
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Green chilies – 3 or 4
Shallots – 1-2 (optional)

*Alternatives:
You can add tamarind pulp instead of curd.

VegetablesMethod:
You can use any vegetable for avial. Avial itself means an assortment/mixture of various things. Yet, the traditional avial uses only native Kerala vegetables and does not use vegetables like potato, capsicum etc. So try to use ‘traditional vegetables’ to get the conventional taste. Traditionally used vegetables for avial are ash gourd, malabar cucumber, drum sticks, elephant yam, carrot, raw banana, pumpkin, long beans, snake gourd, bottle gourd. Wash, peel, and then cut the vegetables of same length of 1 to 1-½ inch pieces.

In a wok add ½ cup of water and add the cut vegetables. Ensure that the water is just enough for the vegetables to get cooked, not too much and not less. Add a pinch of turmeric powder. Close with a lid and cook in medium flame until all the vegetables are cooked. Stir occasionally. Add salt.

While the vegetables are cooking, in a mixer, grind the grated coconut, green chilies, cumin seeds, and shallots. Grind coarsely. Add the ground paste to the cooked vegetables and let it simmer for 2 minutes.

Add curry leaves. Turn off the fire. Beat the curd and add it to the cooked vegetables. Mix well and add 1 tbsp coconut oil mix. Avial is ready to be served.

Notes:
Avial can be eaten along with rice and sambar. It is a wholesome dish and can be eaten as a salad also.

Trivia:
Here is an interesting story about the origin of avial. Bheema, the strongest of the of Pandava brothers, worked as a cook in the Virata kingdom during the one year that Pandavas spent in disguise. The king of Virata did not like wasting a thing. Once, during one of his trips to the royal kitchen, the king noticed that there were small bits and pieces of various vegetables lying around even after all the cooking was complete. The king ordered that these vegetables should not be wasted and should be put to better use. Bheema then cooked all the leftover vegetables together and added some leftover coconut, curd and the rest is history! The inevitable item of every good sadya was thus born in the royal kitchen. It is a much loved dish and is commonly found in restaurants. But seldom will you find the original taste of avial there. Try an authentic sadya avial and then you will know.

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Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, South Indian

Yam Dry

Chena Mezhukkupuratti

Crispy on the outside and soft inside, spicy yam to add flavor to rice.

Ingredients:

Elephant yam (cut into 1 cm cubes) – 250 gm
Curd – 2 tablespoons
Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
Red chilly powder – 2 teaspoons
Curry leaves – 2 stalks
Oil – 2 tablespoons
Salt – to taste

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Cooking Time: 10min.

Method:
Pour one tablespoon oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, add the yam pieces, curd, turmeric powder, red chilly powder, and then pour water. Close the pan and cook in medium fire. Open the lid and stir every minute or so.

Yam available in certain seasons tends to have a higher cooking time. When the water dries up, lower the heat, and check if the yam is tender and well cooked. If the yam is still hard, add some more water and add salt. After the water dries up, add the remaining oil and the curry leaves and cook till the sides of the yam turns brown. Yummy yam is ready to be served with rice and curry.

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List of accompaniments:
Rice and curry. Tastes great with curd rice.

yam served with rice

Alerts:
Cleaning yam can be clumsy. Smear oil in your hands before you clean the yam. This will save you the nasty itching that raw yam might cause. Adding curd to the yam while cooking helps to get rid of any itching that it could cause.

Skill Level:
Low

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