Kanchipuram Idli

BM#102: Week 2, Day 2
Theme :
Restaurant recipes

Me and my husband are both from middle income families where eating out was a rarity. It wasn’t financially feasible for our parents plus there was this firm notion in their minds that outside food is substandard. After we got married and moved out of my in laws place, me and my husband used to eat out a lot. The kitchen was always closed on weekends.

My in laws and my dad still look at eating out as wasting money, but my mother, who was held back by the financial situation while we were growing up but more so by my dad, was quick to change. She always liked eating out, but lacked company to do it. I remember her trying kanchipuram idlis at a South Indian restaurant we had visited once. So when I made kanchipuram idlis recently, I was thinking of her :-).

Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

For the batter:

  • 1/2 cup raw rice
  • 1/2 cup parboiled rice
  • 3/4 cup urad dal
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • Salt as needed

For making the idli:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • Handful of cashew nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry ginger powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

Method:

  1. Soak the rice, fenugreek seeds and dal together overnight. Grind next morning using a grinder or mixie. Set aside to ferment. Refrigerate once the batter is fermented and has doubled in quantity. This usually takes about 8-10 hours depending on the weather.
  2. When ready to prepare the idli, crush black pepper and cumin together using a mortar and pestle. Heat ghee and add the cumin pepper mix. Add cashews and sauté until it changes color. Remove from heat, let it cool completely and then add to the batter.
  3. Add the turmeric powder and the dry ginger powder also to the batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the idli molds and steam for 10-12 minutes until the idlis are cooked through.
  5. Take off the heat, serve with sambar and idli podi.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the recipe from other Blogging Marathoners.

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Tamil Nadu meals

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A balanced meal should have grains, vegetables, fruits and protein worked into it. A typical South Indian Tamil Nadu meals consist of rice, served with a lentil based gravy like sambar with vegetables on the side. Yogurt is an essential part of the meal. A banana after the meal is not at all unusual. So, without knowing the definition of a balanced meal, our ancestors have provided us the same!

In olden days, families were much larger in number and there weren’t any appliances to make life easy.  A simple meal presented in a plate had a lot of effort behind it. This explains the bigger meals as appetite is worked up because of a labor intensive lifestyle.

The meals were three course. Rice is the staple food and star of the meal. The first round is rice served with sambar. The second course is rice and rasam.  The third course is rice and yogurt with which you wind up the meal. For the first two courses, one or two simple vegetable preparations are on the side. Potatoes are treated like vegetables, but people are conscious of the use and don’t make it for everyday meals. It’s almost like a treat now a days. Fried papads or appalams are also served as a side.

In the picture here, I have gone back to the meals we grew up eating. It shows rice, sambar, rasam, cluster beans porial, potatoes, yogurt, pickle and appalam.

With smaller families now, the meal has simplified a lot. Most of the days, rice is served with sambar or some other gravy with a vegetable on side. Tamil Nadu is incredibly hot and so the rice and yogurt course, which helps in cooling the body, still continues. So, to this day, the meal has rice for carbs, lentils and yogurt (and meat, in case of non vegetarian meal) for proteins and vegetables and rounds up as a balanced meal.

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If you are wondering why I am preaching about a balanced meal here, the thing is I wrote the above as an article for Travel Secrets Magazine. It was published in Oct 2015 edition and I thought its a good idea for me to note it down here as well :D.

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BM Theme: Dry vegetable side dishes

Potato fry recipe:

Serves : 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes, cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or per taste)
  • good pinch turmeric powder
  • salt
  • 2 teaspoon oil

Method:

  1. Cook the potatoes until its just done. Peel and let it cool completely.
  2. Dice into pieces and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a non stick pan. Add salt, turmeric powder and chili powder to the oil. Mix it in.
  4. Wait for a few moments, until the chili powder starts to change color from red to brownish.
  5. Add the diced potatoes. Let it get coated with the spiced oil and cook on low – medium flame until its roasted and has a crispy coating.
  6. Carefully keep turning it in between so that all the sides are fried equally. Serve with rice and sambar.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 58

Tiffin Sambar

They say that (having) money takes away your peace of mind. The cycle of making more and maintaining what you have, is sure a strain on the mind as well as the body.

If the above is true, you are looking at a very peaceful person, with absolutely no strain whatsoever in body and mind.

We made our payments to the builder, including the huge extra amount he asked us to dish out at the very last minute. And that sure has squeezed us dry.  Well, I guess our builder needs the money to continue sponsoring the cricket league matches here!

So, instead of getting our kitchen and interiors designed, me and my husband are totally relaxed, not even bothering to check up kitchen designs online. If we were getting our kitchen done, I would either be hunting for an architect/decorator or searching for designs online now.

Blogging would have definitely taken a back seat and all the energy would be in  the interior design. I don’t think I would have been able to write about or enjoy  small things in life, like this tiffin sambar.

Yeah, they are right. Not having money, does bring peace of mind of its own :-).

Ingredients:

  • Moong dal                     :       1/2 cup, cooked
  • Onion                              :       1 medium, chopped
  • Tomato                          :       1 medium, chopped
  • Tamarind paste          :       1/2 tbsp (optional)
  • Sambar powder          :       1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder      :       1/2 tsp
  • Water                              :       2 -3 cups
  • Salt
Tempering
  • Mustard seeds            :        1 tsp
  • Methi seeds                 :         1 tsp
  • Curry leaves               :          5-6 leaves
  • Pearl onions                :          3-4, sliced
  • Oil/Ghee

Method:

  1. Mash the cooked dal and keep aside.
  2. Heat one tbsp oil in a pan and saute the onions. When they are turn pink, add the tomatoes and cook till they are mushy.
  3. Dilute the tamarind paste in a cup of water and add the sambar powder and mix to ensure there aren’t any dry lumps.
  4. Add this to the tomatoes and onions. Add one more cup of water and let it come to a boil. Let it cook for about 5-8 minutes, until the ‘raw’ smell of tamarind goes away.
  5. Now add the mashed dal and salt and let it come to a boil again. Cook for a further 5 minutes, till the sambar is thick. Check the seasonings and adjusting it. Add some more water and cook for some  more time,  if the sambar is too thick. Take off the heat and keep aside.
  6. For tempering the sambar, heat the oil or ghee in a small kadai. Add the mustard seeds and once it splutters, add the methi seeds and curry leaves. When the seeds become darker, add the sliced pearl onions and saute till brown. Add this to the sambar.
  7. This sambar goes well with all South Indian tiffin items.

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