Sunday, 16 August 2015

Appam and Potato Stew....Traditional Keralite Breakfast recipe

"Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper".

And down south we indeed have breakfast like a king. :D

South india and my native Kerala offers a variety of delicious dishes when it comes to breakfast. I remember having different breakfast every morning at home. Right from Idli sambhar, dosa chutney, utthapam, medu vada sambhar, puttu kadla, iddi appam, kappa, just to name a few. These were generally prepared on weekdays at our home while breakfast for Sunday's always used to be special. I am sure many of you must be familiar with the typical dosa, masala dosa and idli. But there are very few people who have actually tried other authentic south indian breakfast dishes like puttu kadla, iddiappam and even appam & stew.  Ever since my childhood days Sunday's special breakfast most of the time used to be appam and potato stew. The first time when i made it here in US, it was nostalgia all over and i was immediately transported to my home in India. Since then, i make it a point to prepare this dish every Sunday. I have been meaning to post this recipe like forever. Finally here it is.


Appam is a kind of a pancake made with rice and coconut, fermented overnight with yeast and served with delicious potato stew which is flavored with coconut milk. I recently served appam and stew to on of our north indian guest's and he was quick to point out that appam is nothing but idli in the centre surrounded by dosa :P. Hahaha. Yea thats how it looks like but it tastes nothing similar to an idli or a dosa. The combination of rice, coconut and yeast yields an appam with a centre which is soft and fluffy with crispy edges. The yeast and the coconut gives a lovely taste and aroma to the appam. Appam is usually accompanied with a variety of non veg dishes as well like fish curry, chicken and beef curry. It is made in a special cast iron pan called appachatti. However the non stick varieties are nowadays easily available in the market. In this post i will be sharing the recipe for both appam as well as the potato stew served along with it.

Recipe courtesy: Mommy dearest :D
Ingredients for Appam:
1 cup surti kolam rice/sona masoori rice
1/2 cup of freshly grated coconut
1/3 cup of cooked rice (Please read the note towards the end of the recipe if you don't have cooked rice)
1/4 cup of water
1/2 tsp of dry active yeast (i used Fleischmann's)
1 1/2 tsp of sugar
More water as needed for preparing the batter
Salt and sugar for taste

Method:
1) Wash the rice thoroughly (3 - 4 times) and soak it for atleast 6 - 7 hrs. You can also soak it in warm water for 3- 4 hrs to speed up the soaking process.

2) Next step is to prepare the batter. Drain the water in which the rice was soaked. Put the rice in a blender/mixer bowl. Add around a cup of water and start to grind the rice. Grind it for a few mins. Now add the grated coconut, cooked rice and around 1/3 cup of water. Grind the mixture for a good 3 - 4 mins.

3) Check the consistency of the batter. It shouldn't be too thick. If you feel its too thick keep on adding little water and grind.

4) The final batter should be fairly thin (but not too thin also). Transfer the batter in a large bowl. Set this aside.

5) In a small saucepan add 1/4 cup of water and sugar. Heat the water on stove until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan and set it aside. At this point of time the water will be hot. You want it to be warm to touch before adding the yeast.

6) Check the temperature of the water. I simply do it by touching it. If its warm to touch then its ready for the yeast. Add the yeast and set it aside. After about 5 mins the yeast will foam up. Stir it with a spoon. (Do not add the yeast when its too hot this will kill the yeast).

7) Now add this yeast mixture into the batter. Mix thoroughly and let it ferment overnight.

8) In the morning, add salt to taste and around 1 tsp of sugar and mix well.

9) Heat your appam pan (apply a little oil with a paper towel if desired). I have a non stick pan and i usually don't apply oil and that works fine for me. With a ladle spoon out a little batter and pour it in the centre. Now hold the pan with both your hands and roll it in such a way that the batter in the middle spreads to the sides and forms a round shape pancake. (As pictured below).

10) Cover the pan wit a lid and let it cook for 3- 4 mins or until the centre of the appam is cooked and edges are crisp.



This is how my appam pan or appachatti looks. Its from the company prestige.





Note: Most of the time i don't have any cooked rice around. So the actual practice is that initially when you grind the rice with water (without the coconut), remove a little batter (around 1/4 cup or so) in a separate bowl or saucepan. To this add around 1/2 cup of water. Cook this mixture on a low flame until it thickens. Let it cool down to room temperature and add it to the prepared ground batter (which is the rice and the coconut) towards the end along with the yeast mixture and mix very thoroughly until the mixture is well incorporated with the batter. 

Recipe for Potato Stew:

3 -4 medium sized potatoes
1 medium sized onion
1 -2 green chilies slit in the middle
1 to 1 1/2cups of freshly grated coconut (this yields around 1/2 cup of nice thick first batch of coconut milk and around 3/4 cup of second batch of coconut milk which is fairly watery and light)
Salt to taste

For tempering
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
4 -5 curry leaves
1 -2 sambar onions sliced (optional)

1) Peel and chop the potatoes and onions. Just roughly chop them into big cubes.

2) Add the potatoes, onion, green chili and salt in a pressure cooker. Add around 1 to 11/2 cups of water. Close it with the lid and let it cook until the cooker gives out 4 - 5 whistles. You can also cook the potatoes and onion in a pot until they are completely cooked through and tender.

3) While the potatoes and onion are cooking prepare the coconut milk. Add the grated coconut in a mixer bowl/blender. Add around 1/3 cup of water. Give it a few pulses. Squeeze the mixture with you hand. Strain it. This is first batch of coconut milk which will be a quite thick and creamy. Now to the squeezed coconut add more water around 3/4 cup, blend again, squeeze. This will give you very light and watery second batch of coconut milk. Keep them aside.

3) Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Do not mash it completely leave few chunks of potatoes as is. Now add the second batch of milk and let it cook for few mins until it is a little thick in consistency. It should not be too thick also. Check the seasoning. Add more salt if required. Once it reaches the desired consistency, switch of the gas. And then add the first batch of milk. Do not cook the stew after the addition of first batch of milk. Else it will cause the milk to separate and the stew will loose it creamy consistency.

4) Now the final step is tempering the stew. Add around 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil in a small pan. To that add mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Now add the chopped sambar onions (optional) and the curry leaves. Stir for few secs. Now add this tempering to the stew. Thats it potato stew is ready to be served with appams :D

You can also make masala stew by adding turmeric powder, chili powder and a little coriander powder to the tempering. Cook it till the raw smell of the masala goes away and pour it in the stew. 




Happened to click this today morning before gobbling them down.



Give it try and let me know how it turned out. Please do not hesitate to leave any comments and questions, i will be more than happy to answer all the queries. 

Friday, 7 August 2015

Kerala....God's Own Country

Hello everyone!!!! Few days back i was just browsing through my old archives of photos (just for fun..i do that every now and then :)), when i came across pictures of our honeymoon trip to Kerala. The amazing pictures transported me to this lush green and beautiful state all over again. Hey hey hey... i am not being biased (considering that its my native place :P), you have to see it to believe it. It is being labeled as "GOD'S OWN COUNTRY" for a very good reason.  

We booked our trip through a website called keralahoneymoon.com. They have got various packages at a fairly good price. Overall our experience was very memorable. A few tiny hitches here and there but in the end i would say it was totally worth it. I was not into blogging back then. Never thought these photos would one day make it to my blog. There were hundreds of photos, obviously it is impossible to share all of them here, so sharing some selective pics with you all. 

I hope you will enjoy the photoessay on one of the most beautiful states in India.

Our package included Munnar, Thekkady, Boathouse at Alleppey and Kumarakom.


Enroute Munnar we spotted this beautiful waterfall.
Quick stopover for some much needed yummy south indian breakfast.
Kerala is incomplete with these gentle giants. 

Welcome tea on our arrival at Munnar

This where we stayed. Isn't it breathtaking? The location of the cottage was truly spectacular. Well maintained clean and beautiful. 

Munnar is well known for the vast tea plantations. Fabulous indeed.
Clouds over the majestic Rajamalai. 

A small hike at Rajamalai




Nilgais strolling around at Rajamalai

Can you spot a nilgai here?

Not to miss this when in Kerala. Traditional Kathakali dance show at Munnar.

Kalaripaiyattu traditional martial art show at Munnar
Simply awesome


Got a chance to visit a tea manufacturing factory.
Our ride to the other side of the river at Thekkedy
A very early morning (mini adventure) nature walk at Thekkady. Saw few birds, monkeys and pug marks of leopard and elephants.


Delicious sadya (lunch with various assortment of food viz. rice, sambar, vegetables and pickles served on a banana leaf) for lunch at Thekkady. 

When we were not eating we were canoeing :P
Beautiful boat house waiting for our arrival. 
The famous Backwaters of Kerala
The food on the houseboat was outstanding and the staff very attentive and caring.  They even surprised us with a cake along with a candle light dinner in the night. :). Pictured above: Karimeen fry (fish fry top), sambar, rice, cabbage sabji, avial and beans sabji for lunch. They also served yummy payasam (rice pudding) for dessert. If you are planning a visit to Kerala, you should do the boathouse totally worth it. 
Thats him :P
Sunset from the houseboat

The houseboat dropped us at our last stop, the resort at Kumarakom.
Kumarakom 
Sunset at Kumarakom
They is still so much more to see and so much more to explore in this beautiful state. Oh well there is always next time. :)

Friday, 24 July 2015

Moong Dal Samosa (Green gram samosa)

Samosa like most of the people know it, is one of the most famous street food in Mumbai. Crispy outer pastry with a potato/vegetable or minced meat filling, these savory triangular fried snack is perfect with a cup of chai. Just like Vada pav and chaat, this fried snack is a must have street food in Mumbai. They come in huge varieties. The most common one is the vegetarian samosa which has potato and peas filling with various spices, served with ketchup or green chutney. On the other hand you can also find chicken samosa, keema samosa and many other variations. I have made the regular samosas before but somehow i am absolutely in love with this particular recipe.



Today i will be sharing a recipe passed on to me by my sister in law. One of a kind and very delicious, this samosa has a filling of green gram or moong dal and potato. 

Ingredients:
(Makes around 20 medium sized samosas)
You can double the amount of ingredients to make more samosas

For the super crispy outer coating you will need:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour 
1 tsp of Kalonji seeds/Nigella Sativa seeds/black seeds
2 tbsp of oil 
Water 
Salt to taste

For the stuffing: 
3/4 cup of green moong (soaked for atleast 6 hrs)
2 medium sized boiled potatoes chopped
1 1/2 tsp of garlic paste
11/2 tsp of ginger paste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
About 1 to 11/2 tbsp of whole coriander seeds coarsely crushed
1/2 tsp dry red chili coarsely crushed
1 tsp of dry mango powder (amchur powder) or chaat masala
Finely chopped green chilies (optional)
Finely chopped green onions/spring onions
Chopped cilantro/coriander leaves
Salt to taste 
1 tbsp of oil
More oil for deep frying 

Feel free to add more chilies or less as per your preference. 

Preparation:

1) Soak the green gram/Moong dal for atleast 6-8 hrs. If you are short of time soak them in warm water for 4 hrs. 

2) In a deep bowl add the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, kalonji seeds, oil and salt. Mix everything well. Now start making a dough by adding little water at a time. Do not add too much water at one go. Keep on adding water until you you are able to make a soft dough. Remember the dough should not be too soft or too hard. Cover the dough with a wet cloth or a cling wrap and set it aside for 15-20mins. 

3) While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. Now you can either use the soaked moon dal directly or you can parcook it and proceed with adding the rest of the fillings. Because the dal will eventually get cooked while deep frying. I parcooked the dal this time. 

4) In a pan heat about 1 tbsp oil. Add the ginger garlic paste, crushed coriander seeds, red chilli flakes, turmeric pwd, cumin pwd, amchur pwd or chaat masala and the parcooked moong dal/green gram. Saute for few 1 -2 mins. Add the boiled potatoes, salt to taste (do not add too much salt if you are adding chaat masala instead of amchur pwd) and mix thoroughly. Close the pan and let it cook for 5 mins. Lastly add the chopped green onion, cilantro and green chilies (optional).  Set this mixture aside to cool down. 



5) Make small balls (the size of a table tennis ball) of the dough and start rolling it out with a rolling pin into a round shape just like a roti. I rolled them into a thin roti. Repeat the same procedure with the rest of the dough. 

6) Heat a skillet or a pan. Slight roast the rotis on both the sides. Don't roast them too much. They shouldn't have brown specs on them. This additional step helps make the samosas super crispy. 



7) Once all the rotis are roasted and cooled, cut them in the middle to get two equal halves (pictured above). Start making a cone of the halves (refer the pictures below). Make a paste of all purpose flour and water. Use this paste to stick and secure the cone. 



8) Start to fill the cone with the stuffing. Add as much as you can but do not overfill. Else you will not be able to seal the ends and the edges. Once the cone is filled, apply the all purpose flour paste inside the ends and seal it. 



9) Repeat this procedure with the rest of the cones. 

10) Heat enough oil on a medium flame in a pan to deep fry the samosas. Please note that the oil should not be too hot or else the samosas will burn the moment they are put inside the pan. 

11) Fry the samosas for few minutes until both the sides are nice golden brown in color. Prepare a dish with paper towels. Remove the samosas, and place them on the plate. The paper towels will help drain any excess oil. And thats it you are done. 



Serve piping hot samosas with your favorite green chutney or ketchup. 

Enjoy and happy cooking.