18 March 2009

Idli Podi - Kerala Style

Idli podi or gun-powder as it is popularly called is a fiery, dry chutney powder that is served with idlis. The bland taste of idli is fantastically complemented with this hot, spicy chutney which is a blend of dal, rice, red chillies and spices. Idli podi is usually made in large quantities and bottled to retain the flavours. It stores well at room temperature for months, though the fieriness may go down a bit on prolonged storage. This idli podi can be served with idlis, dosas, uttappams etc. The recipe given below is my grandmother's which we quite love and is different from other idli podi recipes where rice and curry leaves are not used. This podi is served by mixing coconut oil into it to highlight the flavours whereas other recipes use sesame/gingelly oil or ghee. This powder will turn brown when roasted while the other podi are usually red in colour.

You need:

1/2 glass rice (both raw rice and boiled rice work well)
1/4 glass urad dal
1/4 glass channa dal
1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
a large pinch of hing
6 or more red chillies (the hot variety)
10-12 peppercorns
1 tsp til/sesame seeds
a handful of curry leaves

Roast the peppercorns, red chillies and curry leaves in 2 spoons of oil till they change colour. Add the remaining ingredients and fry till they turn golden brown. Cool thoroughly and powder finely. Store in dry, airtight bottles.

While serving, mix a few spoons of chutney with coconut oil to enjoy the true flavour of Kerala.

11 March 2009

Corn Bhel

With some guests coming over for tea and no mood to fry up some snacks, I remembered reading a corn bhel recipe in one of Tarala Dalal's books. Most of the ingredients were available at hand and very minimal work to do, a nice looking evening snack was ready without much of a fuss and hardwork.
I had store bought sev and puris in my pantry and some frozen corn and date-tamarind chutney in the fridge which saved a lot of effort. Recipe for date-tamarind chutney is here.

You need:
1 cup cooked corn
1 large potato boiled, peeled and cubed
1 large tomato finely chopped
1 smal onion finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp red chilli powder
salt to taste
3 tbsp coriander leaves finely chopped
2 green chillies finely chopped
juice of 2 limes
4-5 tbsp sev (nylon sev used in bhel puris)
date-tamarind chutney
15-20 flat puris (as used for bhel puris)

Heat oil in a pan and sputter the cumin seeds. Add the onion and fry till transluscent. Add the green chillies, potato, tomato, red chilli powder and salt and toss for a minute. Turn off the heat and add the lime juice and mix well. Arrange the puris on a serving plate and add the warm corn mixture on it. Sprinkle the sev and spoon some date-tamarind chutney on top and garnish with coriander leaves.

4 March 2009

Mango Pickle

Summer arrives in India in early March and the first of the raw mangoes appear in the marketplaces. The women in the neighbourhood eagerly await the mango-seller walking through the streets with a huge basketful of baby mangoes on his head. As always they hail him, pick through the best of the raw mangoes, weigh their bulk purchase and haggle over the prices. They then go through the process of wiping the mangoes dry, rubbing in measured portions of salt and leaving the huge bucket of mangoes to bask in the sun for a few days. The mangoes are then brought indoors and spiced with red chilli powder and mustard powder, bottled in sterilised bottles and left outdoors again to cook in the warmth of the sun. Everyday the bottles are shaken to allow the spices and salt to mingle evenly with the mangoes. As the days go by, the mangoes absorb the spices to turn into a lip-smacking 'kanni-manga' pickle, finally distributed among relatives.

While the entire process of pickling is a fantastic journey, the wait till one can actually taste the pickle is killing. And on days when the craving for a pickle is just too much to resist, an easy and quick mango pickle can be made. There are no particular measurements used for this pickle since the pickle does not keep well. It is best consumed within two or three days. To make the pickle, chop a regular raw mango into tiny pieces. Mix salt, red chilli powder, turmeric and mustard(rye) powder and toss well. Store in a dry container or sterilised bottle. The flavours should mingle well in 4-5 hours. Teams well with rice.