Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pillow soft idli and party menu

Making an idli successfully is every Indian ladies' wish. That too the malligaipoo idli of Tamilnadu needs a perfect recipe, quality ingredients, weather and more importantly a wet grinder.  But most of us who search for a good idli recipe for pillow soft diamond white idli are from abroad or cities. I am using a Preethi mixie for making idli batter (not wet grinder).  Earlier my idlies would come out good on one day and sometimes different. Then recently I got this recipe from my chithi and it works best for me any day. After that it became everybody's favorite party food in my house and my three idli plates were not enough :) Then hubby bought me a another set of  idli plates also:) I am sure you are all gonna love this too

Here are some tips for making mallipoo idly:
*Find a best quality idli rice that works for you. For me it is Laxmi brand always.  I had tried with ponni parboiled rice and it works too, but we believe in idli rice for generations:)
* urid dal should be the white whole urid dal. Fresh split black urid dal is  the one we had used for long time as we get that free from our land. So we are sure of its age :)  But this white is better, as it gives more batter like fresh dal.
*Coarse sea salt or fine sea salt gives more flavor.
* Use any raw rice or raw basmati rice.
*Always rinse the rice 3 to 4 times in tap water or till water runs clear. This ensures pearl white idli.
*Never use baking soda for idli. This plain batter is must for white color idli.
* Always mix the idli batter using hand before fermentation. After the batter gets fermented, we can use spoon to handle it.
* Both grinder and mixie can give the same results. Use Indian mixies or grinders only for making this batter, as blenders may vary in quality.
* I grind the batter to a fine texture for both idly and dosa. But many people make a coarse batter for idly and fine one for dosa, which is also good.
* I recommend preparing idly on the first two days and using the same batter for dosai from then on. The batter stays good inside fridge for a week.
*After grinding the idli batter, mix with hand and divide it into three containers and let it ferment. By this way , we can make soft idli every day.
*In colder regions: prepare the batter and immediately keep inside an oven. If there is pilot flame (conventional gas oven), then the batter will become fluffy and double within 8 hours.
* If there is no pilot flame (electric ignition oven), then heat the oven to 200 deg C for 5 minutes, switch off  and keep the batter. Also in this oven during very cold winters: maintain the temperature by keeping a large pot of hot water inside the oven and change it once in 4 hours ☺☺
* While making sambar for guests or parties, always temper it with ghee only and add some jaggery , fresh cilantro before switching off.

I am sure this will make your guests call you as idly queen :)

Soft idly with murungakkai sambar

Pillow soft idly with malli chutney. Home stye !

My favorite Idli plate (this type won't have holes in each dent and so no need to spread an idli cloth).
Ingredients: (Using mixie / mixer / blender)
Idli rice - 4 cups
raw rice - 3/4 cup
urid dal - 1 cup + 2 tbsp
methi seed (venthayam) - 1 tbsp
fine sea salt - 1 tsp / cup  (here 6 tsp)
we can use coarse sea salt too (but measurement may vary).

Ingredients: (using grinder )
Idli rice - 6 cups
urid dal - 1 cup (if urid dal is of high quality, which yield more fluffy batter. If not so, then use 1 1/4 cup urid dal)
methi seed (venthayam) - 1 tbsp
fine sea salt - 1 tsp / cup  (here 6 tsp)
we can use coarse sea salt too (but measurement may vary).

Soak idli rice, methi and raw rice together for 4 - 5 hours in normal weather. (over night soaking can be done for subzero winters).
Soak  urid dal for 1 hour (definitely not more than that).
First grind the urid dal using cold water to a fluffy fine texture.
Grind the rice along with salt to a fine texture (or medium coarse texture).
In a large mixing bowl, mix all the batters together. Mix vigorously with hand , so that both mixes very well. Keep on mixing for at least 2 minutes.
Divide it into three portions and store separately. Fill the containers to 1/4 or 1/2 only, as the batter will rise during fermentation.
Keep in a warm place (see tips above) and let it ferment for 8 hours or overnight.
Then take one container and keep all others in fridge.
Before pouring for idli, mix very very gently twice using a mixing spoon. Don't mix too much.
Grease an idli plate, with very little drop of ghee or sesame oil.
Scoop idli batter and fill each dent up to 3/4 full.
Keep the idli stand inside pressure cooker and steam cook for 8-10 minutes without putting weight valve.
Take out and scoop out the steamed idlie, when they are still hot.
Soft idli is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve with any chutney or vengaya sambar or idli podi.

How to plan for an easy party with idly batter?
Recently we hosted a party in our house. Here is my menu plan for an easy vegetarian get together or dinner for 10 people. I didn't take any pictures (I should have....) ☺

Prepare 30 - 40 idli, just an hour or two before party. Microwave this and close tightly (steam makes it more soft), before bringing to dinning table. If possible prepare the idli just before serving, as it is  the most authentic version, but I do this to make it easy.
Serve a simple snack or appetizer like onion bajji. We can prepare the bajji batter almost a day ahead and keep in fridge. Don't mix onions ahead. Start frying the favorite bajji just before party starts.
While the guests are enjoying the idli, start making crispy masal dosa with ghee.
Make sambar and potato masala filling one day ahead or in early morning. keep in fridge. We can garnish the sambar later.
But always make the coconut chutney as fresh as possible (within 2-4 hours in cold regions).
Serve the idli in bowls and top it with sambar (North Indian version) or in plate and pour sambar, chutney over it (South Indian version).Keep spoons handy.
For dessert, prepare ahead some ice cream or rava kesari or just a store bought icecream. I served kulfi icecream , which I prepared in excess while making for hubby's office party.
Though this party menu may look elaborate, it is not tiresome, if planned properly.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Spicy buttermilk

Recently we went to a restaurant called Mirchi near our house. The specialty in that restaurant is its buffet with various briyanies and a wide selection of Andhra food. After enjoying the splendid buffet, I could see a crowd near the dessert buffet corner and went near it. There I saw many guests filling their tall glasses with a buttermilk. At first I thought it was simply some buttermilk and didn't bother to take some (as I make it often at home). But hubby dear took that and told me to taste it, as it is something beyond our regular buttermilk:) I tasted it and loved it very much. I could imagine all the ingredients. So after that day, I am preparing this buttermilk in the same proportion and serving it as chill as possible. It tastes exactly the same and we both like it very much.
Spicy buttermilk after an yummy lunch makes our day more special:)

Prepare this buttermilk early morning during summer and enjoy this whole day

Indian curd (desi yogurt) -  1.5  cups
sea salt - to taste
ginger - 1 inch
green chilly - 1
cilantro - few
cumin - 1 tsp
curry leaves - few
ice cold water - 4 cups

Peel ginger. Grind ginger, green chilly, cumin to a fine paste.
Beat the yogurt creamy with salt.
Add the prepared ginger paste.
Finely chop cilantro and curry leaves.
Mix well. Add enough cool water and few ice cubes.
Spicy buttermilk is ready !

Serving suggestion:
We can serve this buttermilk after a simple chapthi meal or with any grand lunch.
Makes a good drink during summer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Keerai paniyaram

Keerai paniyaram / spinach paniyaram. Paniyaram (appey / puff panakes) are very native South Indian dishes. We can make n number of varieties using the same batter. Sometimes I prepare the paniyaram batter itself from scratch (which is a successful method always). But using leftover dosa batter is a handy method too. Try this with any kind of greens we get and I am sure you are all going to love this.
Keerai paniyaram with kara chutney.

thick dosa batter - 1 cup
besan flour - 1 tbsp
baking soda - 1/2 tsp
ghee /butter/  sesame oil - as per need
To temper:
spinach - handful
mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
urad dhal - 1 tsp
sesame oil - 1 tsp
onion - 1/4 (small)
green chilly - 2
asafoetida (hing) - a pinch

For spinach: In a wok, heat oil and add  mustard seeds, urid dal. As the mustard starts splutter, add finely chopped onion, green chilly and saute till it gets soft. Then add finely chopped spinach and cook covered for 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Add besan flour to dosa batter. Besan flour helps in flipping the paniyaram easily. The dosa batter should be thick.
10 minutes before starting to prepare the paniyaram, add the baking soda and mix well.
In the mean time prepare the spinach fry. Pour this spinach to the dosa batter and mix well.

Now heat a paniyaram pan and brush some oil in all the holes. Then add 1 tsp sesame oil / butter in each hole. Reduce the flame to minimum and pour the batter to halfway in each hole. Click to see the picture. Cook covered or in open. (I prefer putting a lid to ensure uniform cooking). We can notice some red color in the edges and then flip using a skewer or fork. No need to cover after flipping. Take out once done.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as breakfast or snack with coconut chutney. or kara chutney.

Do everything in low heat. It may take a little while but that is the only way to get whole fluffy paniyaram.
Non stick pans work the best. But I have used a pan similar to traditional thick paniyaram pan.
For the first batch it may require more oil to fry, but it will take very lesser in the following.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dindigul chicken biriyani in cooker

Recently I learned this delicious Dindigul briyani recipe from my friend Emelda. This is one of the most popular non vegetarian foods in Tamilnadu. Only a very few people can bring that authentic taste, as it needs lot of experience . Even the popular restaurants need more care to bring this authentic taste, while a few like her can do it phenomenally. While talking about this recipe , she surprised me by saying that this Dindigul briyani is made in a pressure cooker (traditionally it is done by dum process) and gave me the instructions for that too. One would be amazed at the quality of separate rice grains we get by this process. The secret is in the timing. So follow the instructions carefully and I am sure this is the easiest way to make a delicious briyani.  I am narrating her version of Dindigul briyani and I am sure this is going to be everyone's favorite also.

Immediately transfer to a serving tray gently.

Briyani after pressure cooking.

Pressure cook it in low heat for 6-8 minutes without any whistle and switch off.

Cook the rice before closing the cooker,  till we see almost all water is absorbed and only an inch stands above rice.

After adding the required water to cooked chicken masala, bring it to rolling boil. After that only we add soaked rice.

Serve this delicious Dindigul chicken briyani with onion raita.

Long Basmathi rice - 3 1/2 cups
water - 5 cups
( 3.5 cups x 2 - 2 = 5 cups)
Chicken - 3/4 kg (almost 2 lb)
(with bone / leg piece is good.)
salt - To taste
Green chilly - 3
Red onion - 1 (big)
Tomato - 4
Lemon - 1/2
ghee - 1/2 cup
turmeric - 1/2 tsp
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
garam masala powder - 2 tsp
thick curd - 1/2  cup (optional but tastes good)

Paste 1:
cilantro - 10 plants (leaves only)
mint leaf - 10 sticks (leaves only)
green chilly - 4

Paste 2:
Ginger - 2 inch
garlic - 10 pearls

For tempering:
cinnamon - 3 inch long
star aniseed - 1
Sea weed (kalpaasi) - 2 curls
Nutmeg (jathikkai) - a tiny bit
mace - 1/4 of  a flower
cardamom - 5
cloves - 6

Clean the chicken and cut it in to big pieces. Rinse and keep aside.
Add  a tsp of salt ,  curd, red chilly powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and leave it for an hour.
(overnight marination inside fridge yields very tasty juicy chicken pieces in biryani).

Chop the onion in lengthwise.
Chop Tomato, green chilly, few cilantro, mint into small pieces.
Grind ginger and garlic together to a fine paste.
Separately grind cilantro, mint, green chilli to a very fine paste.

While we start tempering,  rinse and clean the rice. Soak it in water for 10 minutes , drain water and let it remain for 1/2 an hour (while we saute and cook the meat). Don't soak for more time. The rice may break by over-soaking.

Heat ghee in a pressure cooker.
(Now Soak the rice in room temp water for only 10  minutes).
Toss in the items given for tempering.
Immediately add the chopped onion and fry till it becomes golden brown.
Add the ginger garlic paste and stir well till the raw smell vanishes (less than a minute, don't let it get  red).
Now add the finely chopped tomato and cilantro paste (paste 1). Saute till the tomato gets mashed and oil starts showing off. 
Now put the chicken pieces and pressure cook it for 3 whistles.
After the pressure is released, open the cooker.
Add water and bring to a boil.
Check salt and taste. Add more salt if needed.
Add the soaked rice and continue cooking without closing the lid.
Continue cooking in medium flame until the rice absorbs water and almost 1 inch of water stands above rice.
Now sprinkle juice of 1/2 lemon and close the pressure cooker.
Put the pressure valve and reduce flame to minimum.
Cook in this low flame for 6 - 8 minutes ( don't allow for a whistle).
Switch off.
After the pressure is released , open the cooker.
Now the biriyani may seem to have some extra some water, but it will be absorbed, as soon as we keep it open.
Gently shake the pressure cooker / insert a spatula in the sides and transfer the biriyani to a serving tray (don't use spatula too much, while the biriyani is hot).
Garnish with finely chopped cilantro and mint leaves.
Dindigul chicken biriyani is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as main course meal with onion raitha.

Perfect Traditional Adai Dosai

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