Moraiyo idli: Steamed, savoury barnyard millet cakes

Yesterday was the birthday of the person who has given me #careergoals and #leadershipgoals. Mr Ajay Umat is the editor of Navgujarat Samay, a Gujarati newspaper from the Times Group. He is one of the few celebrated journalists in Gujarat.

He is an example of how being a gentleman never goes out of style. Most of my friends in the media admire Mr. Umat for his journalistic

skills or aspire to be like him someday.  It’s his interpersonal networking skills that make him such an endearing personality. But what sets him apart as a leader is his ability to keep his team happy. I know a lot of his team members but am yet to come across a single person who is unhappy with his boss. And that’s some achievement for a boss in a world where most work environments are toxic and most employees are unsatisfied with their jobs.

For someone who follows a restrained diet, Mr. Umat comes across as a person who loves to talk about food. And today’s Indian recipe is dedicated to him because I heard about some healthy ingredients from him, long back. In spite of being born in Gujarat, I had never heard about Moraiyo (barnyard millet) till Mr. Umat mentioned to me about it (Although, I don’t remember the context). Low in calorie, Moraiyo has a lot of health benefits and is generally eaten in India during fasts.

Moraiyo Idli 
Savoury, steamed cakes made from barnyard millet

 

Processed with MOLDIV
Moraiyo Idli

 

Ingredients:
1 cup Moraiyo, soaked for 2 hours
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Yogurt/Buttermilk
Salt to taste
1 tsp Baking powder

Method:

Grind the soaked moraiyo in a grinder with water to form a pancake batter-like consistency. Add baking powder, buttermilk and salt and leave it for 30 minutes to ferment. Pour the batter into a stove-top idli maker or a microwave idli maker and steam for 10 minutes. Serve with coconut chutney.

Note: These idlis may not be fluffy and white but they will definitely satisfy your idli cravings in a healthier way. They are diabetics-friendly and perfect as a Shraavan/Navratri fasting dish.

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Appam and Kerala style Egg Curry

image1Appam and Egg Curry

We all seek change— from same old routines, those mundane tasks, saturated jobs and sometimes, a boring life that we find ourselves unknowingly in.

I was in a rut, too, since more than a year. What was once a ‘dream job’ was slowly becoming a nightmare because of all the negativity surrounding it. The day I had to drag myself to my workplace was the day I decided to free myself from the shackles of a “glamorous” yet dissatisfying job. Once I decided to move on, so many doors opened up for me. A fortnight into my new job and I am so glad I chose the door that held the most potential for a bright future, a world outside that door which trusts my capabilities, a door that gives me the liberty to dream, create and explore.

Life is so much different now, in a happy sort of way. I had read somewhere that your present is everything you have thought of in the past. And when I think of it, it is so true. I have had this thought many times in the past. Of being associated with my current organization, of working with my current colleagues and of working out of my present work premises.

I dedicate this post and the recipe to my current state of bliss, as a way to thank the Universe for having conspired in my favour J _/_

This dish, one of my favourites from Kerala, has the capacity to take you to that perfect state of happiness, oblivious of anything else. Appam is usually had in Kerala for breakfast but you can savour these feather light appams with delicious egg gravy for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just make sure you give it enough time to ferment. Happy cooking J

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Egg curry (Kerala style mutta curry)

Ingredients:

 Eggs: 4 nos.

Red onion: 2 medium, chopped

Tomatoes: 2 medium, chopped

Ginger paste: 1 tsp

Green chillies: 3 (use more/less according to your heat quotient)

Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp

Curry leaves – 8 to 10

Whole spices like Cinnamon (small stick), Cloves (2) and bay leaf (1)

Egg masala or Garam masala powder – 1 tsp

Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Crushed black pepper – 1/2 tsp

Coconut Milk – 1 cup

Salt

Method:

Boil the eggs for 12 minutes. Remove shells and keep aside.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil and add the whole spices and the curry leaves.

Add the chopped onions, ginger paste and the green chillies. Saute well for a couple of minutes till the onions turn light golden brown in color. Add turmeric and tomatoes and cook till tomatoes turn soft. Add a little water to mash the tomatoes and then add the garam masala. Saute for ten seconds and then add the coconut milk. Once it starts to simmer, add eggs (slit into two or whole) to the gravy. Add salt and crushed black pepper and stir well. Remove from heat and serve hot with appam.


Appam (Pancake made of Rice and Coconut)

 Ingredients:

 Rice (preferably the boiled rice variety that South Indians use): 1 cup

Shredded/Dessicated coconut: 2 cups

Yeast: ½ tsp

Sugar (optional): 3 tsp

Milk(optional): 3 tsp
Salt

Method:

Soak rice and shredded coconut in water for about 6-8 hours. Once the rice has softened, blend it with sugar and salt till it is a smooth flowing, batter-like consistency. Add yeast and blend for a minute. Leave the batter covered overnight so that the batter rises.

Once the batter ferments, you can add about three teaspoons of milk. Heat an appam chatti (pan) and pour a ladle full of batter in the centre. You may need to add a teaspoon of oil if you are not using a non-stick appam chatti. Now, lift the pan from the sides and tilt it on all sides so that the batter spreads around like a crisp dosa on the sides, yet has a thick, soft centre.

Close the lid and cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. The appam needs to be cooked only on one side. Serve hot with egg curry or vegetable stew or chicken curry. Yum!

Puttu with Kadala curry

Puttu with Kadala Curry

I made a quick, three-day trip to Kerala two weeks ago with my husband. And I have decided to dedicate this post to Kerala’s local flavours. The thattukada or street-side eateries in Kochi are heaven for anybody who likes to savour authentic Kerala cuisine. However, once dusk falls, the streets of Kochi are so deserted, one would begin to wonder if people even live there. Coming from a city like Ahmedabad-where you can find women and men on the streets even around midnight-was a bit of a shock for me. I mean, I would not expect people from the villages in Kerala to be so open about staying out late but come on, this is a city that belongs to the most literate state in India. Besides being God’s own country and one of the most beautiful places on earth, Kerala has always been an exception in India in literacy, life expectancy, sex-ratio, and infant and maternal mortality. What I look forward to most while travelling is to try out local cuisines from the street eateries when I visit any place. Kerala being my native, I have always wanted to visit the thattukada and kallu shaap (toddy shop). This time around, my father-in-law seems to have known what I was secretly wishing for and so, out of impulse, one evening during my last visit, he said, “Let’s go and get some food packed from the thattukada for dinner”.  And off we went, driving in his white Merc to the best thattukada in town, which was almost half an hour from home.

It was around 8 pm and as expected, there were only men at the 3-4 tables laid outside the dhaba-like thattukada on the highway. It was a delight to see a variety of ethnic Kerala food right from paratta with kozhi porichathu (chicken roast), mathi (fish) karuvepila fry, nadan njandu (crab) olarthu, beef fry, thattu dosha, puttu and kadala curry to duck egg curry, kappa (tapioca) and pazaham pori (banana fritters). Phew! Drawing a list is reminding me of the tangy whiffs and the spicy taste of the food I devoured that day.  We packed a little bit of everything. As I do not eat meat, I ordered some puttu and mota curry for myself. The thattukada experience is something I will relish and cherish.

This morning, the image of steaming hot puttu and the spicy curry came to my mind when I was thinking of Sunday brunch. I had some pre-soaked kadala (chana or black gram) in the fridge and some freshly made puttu-podi from my mom. So, here goes the recipe for the most authentic, delicious Kerala style puttu-kadala, dedicated to the thattukadas of Kerala…

Puttu-Kadala curry

An authentic Kerala dish made out of steamed rice flour and bengal gram . A Malayali’s favourite breakfast

Ingredients:

Kadala curry

Ingredients

Black Chana, soaked overnight 200 gms

Grated Coconut 1/2 cup

Five Shallots or two small Onions

Tomato 1, medium sized

Curry leaves

Mustard seeds

Red Chilli powder

Coriander Powder

Turmeric powder

Pepper, crushed or whole

Salt

Coconut oil 1 tbsp

Method:

Pressure cook chana with salt and turmeric till soft. While chana is cooking, roast together the coconut, shallots, red chilli powder, coriander powder and pepper till brown. Grind it to a smooth paste along with the tomato and a teaspoon of cooked chana to get a thick consistency. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add curry leaves and the masala mix. Add salt to taste and the chana. Kadala curry is usually a bit watery because it is served with puttu so you may add water at this stage. Mix well. Let it boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Puttu

Ingredients:

Coarse rice flour, roasted 2 cups (you can also buy red or white puttu flour from Kerala stores in your neighbourhood)

Salt 1 tsp

Water 1/4 cup

Grated coconut 1.5 cups

Method:

Before we proceed, puttu needs a special equipment, called puttu kuzhal or puttu-maker.   You can make puttu even if you do not have a puttu kuzhal. Just take the shell of a coconut that is already grated and proceed with the method.

Take the rice flour in a bowl, add salt and mix well. Add water, very little at a time to make a powdery, wet flour but not a dough. Adding more water will result in the puttu sticking to the equipment after steaming and less water will make the puttu too soft and come out in powder form. Time to fill the puttu in the kuzhal. Fill the base of the puttu maker (pot) with water and keep it on the gas stove to heat. The kuzhal or the tube part of the vessel has a chip at its base. To begin with the process, fill the tube with a small layer of coconut, then put a handful of the wet flour till half of the tube is filled. Add coconut again and fill the rest of the tube with flour. Once the water in the pot boils, fix the tube on the base with the cap on and steam for about 10 minutes on high flame. Once done, remove the tube from the pot and push the puttu out using a ladle or a knife. Serve steaming hot with kadala curry.

As I enjoyed my sumptuous brunch with a cup of frothy coffee, the memories of my trip to Kerala came alive, yet again…Image