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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Holige / Obbattu ~ Poli With Sweetened Toordal Stuffing

Any occasion small or big ranging from a festival to welcoming a freshly minted son in law calls for a holige oota (festive platter that includes the delicious holige) in and around Bangalore. Making soft, thin, flaky holige / obaatu is a skill that is developed over years of practice and experience and usually the job is left to the matron of the home. Whether the holiges are stuffed with sweetened coconut (kayi hoorana) or sweetened dal mixture (bele hoorana / poorna), getting them ready to fry without tearing the outer shell while stuffing and patting is the crucial step. And seriously it needs some practice to make thinner versions that are popular in Bangalore. The dal stuffing can be made with toordal, chana dal or the moong dal.
The holige making involves two steps. Preparation of the stuffing and the outer case.

Toordal stuffing:
1 cup toordal
1/2 cup jaggery powder (or as needed since the sweetness of the jaggery varies)
1 tsp cardamom powder

* Cook toordal adding 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker. Cook toordal in such a way that it gets cooked while still holding shape. Don't cook until mushy.

* Drain the cooked toordal in a colander and let cool.

* Completely drain the toordal. Grind toordal, jaggery and cardamom powder finely. If toordal mixture turns watery accidentally, just cook it in a non stick pan until it thickens. Cool and use as needed.

Ingredients for the outer layer:
3/4 cup chiroti rava / very fine semolina 
1/4 cup maida / all purpose flour
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
8 - 10 tbsp oil (yes that is not a typo.)

Preparing the dough for the outer layer:
Combine the flour, rava and turmeric in a bowl. Add sufficient water and make a thick dough as roti / poori dough. Then add the oil gradually and keep kneading so that the oil gets incorporated well into the dough. According to my mother's instructions, I kept kneading it for at least 15 minutes.  My mother swears that this much of kneading (and the addition of that much of oil too) is really important and one shouldn't skip this step. 
Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.

Making holiges:
* Pinch about a small lime sized dough and place it on a generously greased banana leaf or a thick plastic sheet.
* Now using your fingers, pat and flatten it into a thin circle of about 3 inch diameter.
* Place about a lime sized ball of stuffing at the center of the dough circle.

* Bring the edges of the dough from all sides to cover the stuffing completely. Now the stuffing should be well inside the dough casing.

* Again flatten it with your fingers and go on patting it carefully so that it results in a thin, flat circle with spilling the stuffing out.

* Meanwhile heat a griddle / tava / or a shallow pan. Now reverse the leaf / sheet with the disc directly on the tava. Gently pull away the leaf. Add 1/2 tsp of ghee / oil along the circumference and fry it both sides till it is done and you see brown spots all over. Flip it once or twice while doing so.

This is going to be my final post of this week under "Festive Foods" theme. Check what other marathoners are cooking during BM#33.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Vangi Bhath

Coming from the rice belt of India, the possibility of any festivity / celebration sans a rice dish is practically a zero occurrence to us. Or to any south Indian for that matter. Traditionally, south Indian lunches and dinners meant vegetable and bean dishes served with hot, steamed rice. Till this day, millions of Indian households eat at least a meal of rice everyday though work, time constraints, health consciousness and globalization of food has changed the food patterns / habits of people.
And so naturally, I thought of going with a rice dish - one of the popular vegetarian rice dishes, vangi bhath. Considering the frequency and love with which vangi bhath is prepared in my husband's family, this post is long due. Though vangi bhath is said to be from the state of Karnataka, it is equally popular in the southern states as well. As the name suggests, eggplants are the star of this dish and a good quality vangi bhath powder is a must to turn it into a crowd pleaser.
The preparation of vangi bhath and the spice powder of course change regionally and here is our beloved version. Usually potato is not a part of vangi bhath and also the vegetables are not crisp fried. However I don't mind the frying part and extra calories since it makes the dish more yummier than sauteing eggplants that get mushier while mixing with rice.

Vangibhath powder:
This version of vangi bhath powder comes from a sister in law of mine and it absolutely perks up the dish. I am told by family and friends that I make a very good vangi bhath and the secret behind it is this powder. :) I usually double the ingredients, make extra powder in advance, preserve in an airtight container and refrigerate it.

Ingredients for the vangibhath powder:
1/4 cup chana dal 
1 Tbsp coriander seeds 
4 cloves
8 one inch cinnamon pieces
2 -3 Tbsp dry coconut / copra
10 dried red chillies (I used byadagi variety. If using hotter variety, reduce the chillies.)

* Dry toast the chanadal till it starts to turn reddish. Then add the coriander seeds, cloves, chillies and cinnamon and sauté for a few seconds.

* Remove from heat and cool them. Grind them along with the coconut to a fine powder.

Preparation of vangi bhath:

1 cup sona masuri rice
3 violet colored baby eggplants - stalks removed and sliced thin lengthwise
1 big potato - peeled and sliced thin lengthwise
Oil to fry
3 tbsp vangi bhath powder (recipe above)
Salt to taste
For tadka:
2 - 3 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp chana dal, 1 tsp mustard seeds, few curry leaves and a handful of cashews

* Cook rice adding 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker or rice cooker and keep it aside. Let it cool a bit.
* Fry eggplant slices in hot oil on medium flame, until crisp and golden brown.


* Repeat the same with potato slices. Drain on absorbent paper towels and keep them aside.

* Heat oil in a kadai or a big non stick pot. Add the cashews and toast them till they turn golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon and keep aside. Add chanadal and mustard seeds to the same oil and sauté till the dal turns reddish. Then add curry leaves and the fried vegetables. 
* Add the vangibhath powder and salt to the pan and mix properly so that the vegetables are well coated.

* Then add the cooked rice and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Garnish with the toasted cashews.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ulundu Kozhukattai / Khara Kadubu

We are in the midst of festival season and so it seemed opt to choose the "festive dishes" theme for this week's blogging marathon. The first recipe for this series is going to be these traditional, spicy kozhukattais. Kozhukattai / kudumulu / kadubu / modak call whatever you may depending upon where you come from, are commonly prepared for Ganesh Chathurthi using a savory or sweet filling. 
Growing up, I remember that we kids preferred to eat only the sweet stuffing before chucking the outer layer into the trash. My mother after watching our ways entirely stopped preparing them and shifted to kajjikayalu instead since we ate the shell too. Somehow in the recent years, I have developed a liking towards the outer shell and started to prepare these kudumulu / kozhukattais. :)
This recipe involves two steps. Preparation of outer covering and the spicy stuffing. If you are not preparing this as an offering on a festive day, you can prepare the stuffing in advance and keep it refrigerated for a few days.  
Ingredients for urad dal stuffing:
1/2 cup urad dal / skinned black gram
2 green chillies
a sprig of curry leaves
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
Few pinches of asafoetida
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut
* Soak urad dal at least for an hour in water and discard the water after soaking period. Rinse urad dal with fresh water and completely drain.
* Grind urad dal, green chillies, salt and curry leaves together coarsely without adding water. I used a food processor for this. 
* Grease idli moulds and place about 1/4 cup of ground paste into each grove. Steam this in a pressure cooker without the whistle on / idli cooker for about 10 - 12 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Remove and let cool.
* Pulse it in a food processor / blender until the steamed mixture is coarsely crumbled.
* Heat a non stick saute pan and add mustard seeds and asafoetida. Add the coarsely ground dal powder and coconut. Stir and saute for about five minutes. The ulundu stuffing is ready now and can be used as needed.

Ingredients for the outer shell:
1 cup rice flour
1 cup water or as needed
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp oil 
* Add water, oil and salt to a sauce pan. Bring the water to a boil and turn off the stove.
* Take the rice flour in a mixing bowl. Slowly add the water to the flour , mixing with a wooden spatula /spoon all the while.

* Leave it aside for 5 minutes or until it is easy to handle. Knead it into a smooth dough with greased hands.
* Grease your palms with ghee / oil and pinch out small lime sized portions out of the dough.
* Put the ball on your left palm and flatten it with your right hand fingers.
* Place some filling at the center. Fold it to form a crescent moon shaped one and seal the edges.
* Repeat the steps with the remaining dough and filling to form kozhukattais.
* Steam them for about 10 - 12 minutes or the outer layer is shiny. A idli stand / steamer / pressure cooker can be used.