Sunday, January 20, 2008

Idli-Vade-Sambhar




Another typical South-Indian breakfast. I used to hate idlis during my school/college days. Everytime my mom made it I would end up either fighting with her or just grudgingly eating one idli, much to my mom's disappointment. I was a stubborn, adamant spoilt brat, and how much I repent that. But now, I make it a point to prepare Idlis once a week(Thankfully everyone at home loves it.) For me it is a matter of convenience. Once the batter is ready, the idlis get done in 10 mins max, and the chutney can be prepared while the idlis are being steamed. So, a totally hassle free breakfast item. On weekends when I(everyone else, rather) have a lot of time to spare I team up the idlis with sambhar and vades making an elaborate and tastier weekend breakfast/brunch.
Idlis are considered easy to digest, going easy on the GI track. So, they are a much preferred food for kids, aged or ailing persons. I once had this misfortune of being admitted to a hospital and I was really happy that I had soooo many visitors. Now, as I sit down to key this, a small doubt is creeping into my mind nagging me as to the real reason I had so many visitors. Well, this hospital that I was in was quite close to a small place called Veena Stores(18th Cross, Malleshwaram, Bangalore). It might be of the dimension 10X10. But then they serve up the whitest, fluffiest, softest idlis ever, aptly named "mallige" idli. Mallige is Kannada for Jasmine. As the saying goes in Kannada, "Moorti chikkadaadru, keerti doddadu" (small in stature, high on fame), though it is a small place(and not changed in the least in the last many years)its idlis are ever so famous. The crowd in front of the place makes it very clear. So, whoever came to visit me at the hospital, was it just for me or for the Mallige Idlis???? Just kidding, I know it was for me. Cos I know you all love me, if not more at least as much as you love the Mallige Idlis :-) No hard feelings there.
My grandma had this thing about making vade at home. In the Brahmin community of Karnataka, uddina vade(Urad dal vada) is a dish to be prepared only during "shraaddha/tithi"(death anniversaries). Especially the ones that are shaped like the doughnuts, with a hole in the centre. They are usually eaten with either hesarubeLe payasa(moongdal kheer) or baaLehaNNina payasa(banana kheer). Wierd, some of you might say. But that is how it goes and it really tastes heavenly. And nothing spells shraddha more than Vade-payasa. Well, anyways, she(my grandma) did not like it when we expressed a desire to eat vade on days other than shraaddhas. Someone had found a way around that too... it was ok to prepare vade without the hole in the centre, so that it resembled a round bonda. They would call it biskut vade. Funny but true....anything for the love of food. Hole or Whole, it is the vade that mattered most.
Served with sambar, the idli and vade are a treat to the gastronomical senses. The sour, tangy sambar takes it a notch higher on the taste scale.
Usually, I have seen that people prefer eating idli-vade, immersed in a bowlfull of sambar. Hotels have special bowl shaped plates just to cater to this need. I used to make sambhar with finely chopped potatoes, tomatoes and onions. But to eat as said above, it is convenient if the sambhar is just plain liquid with all the flavors but no obstructing vegetable pieces in between. Then I found this recipe from my dear friend Rajeshwari which I am posting below. So, Njoi!!!

Ingredients and Method:

For Idli:
2 cups idli rice(You can use 1 cup rice and 1 cup rice rava)
1 cup urad dal (I use the whole white urad dal)

1. Soak the rice and dal separately for at least 5 hours.
2. Grind the Urad dal into a fine paste
3. Grind the rice into a coarse paste.
4. Mix well and keep overnight in a warm place to ferment. I Usually preheat the oven and switch it off and then keep the batter there.If you are using the rice rava, wash it in a bowl and let the water stand. Slowly drain away all the water and mix it in after you are done grinding the rice and the dal. If the rava is too coarse, you could just run it in the mixer for a few rounds.
5. In the morning, add salt and mix the batter well.
6. Grease the idli plates and pour in batter and steam.

For vade :
1 cup whole white urad dal
Less than 1/4 cup rice rava(akki tari)
Salt to taste
A Pinch of hing
Coarse cracked black pepper(Optional)
1/8th cup thin sliced fresh coconut(Optional)

1. Wash and soak the urad dal overnight
2. In the morning, grind to a fine paste using no or just 1-2 tablespoons of water.
3. Wash the rice rava and let it stand. Carefully drain off all the water.
4. Mix it well with the urad dal paste.
5. Add all the other ingredients and mix well.
6. Heat oil in a frying pan.
7. Wet your hands and take a lemon sized ball of the batter, shape it round and puncture a hole in the middle, using your thumb.
8. Carefully put it into the hot oil.
9. You can fry 5-6 vades at a time.
10. Fry on a steady medium flame.Keep turning in between.
11. Remove when golden brown in color.

For the Coconut Chutney :
Grated coconut - 2 cups
Green Chillies - 4
Coriander leaves - 8 to 10 sprig
Split roasted chana dal - 3 teaspoons
Tamarind - the size of a small marble
Jaggery - the size of a small marble
Salt - to taste
Oil for seasoning
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Urad dal
6-8 curry leaves
1 pinch of hing

1. Put everything (upto to salt)in a blender and grind to a fine paste.
2. Heat oil for seasoning. Add the mustard seeds. when they start sputtering, add urad dal. When it turns slightly brown add the curry leaves and hing. Add to the chutney and mix well.

For the Sambhar :

1/4 cup Toor dal(washed and well cooked in the pressure cooker)
1/2 cup grated coconut
2 tomatoes, cut into big chunks
1 onion, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons(or as per your taste) tamarind pulp
1 gooseberry sized lump of jaggery
1 teaspoon sambar powder
1 teaspoon rasam powder
Salt to taste
4 teaspoons of oil
8-10 curry leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
one pinch of hing
Chopped coriander leaves, for garnish.

1. In a deep vessel, heat 2 teaspoons of oil and add the tomato cubes.
2. Saute until well cooked. It should become soft and pulpy and fall apart.
3. Blend the cooked tomatoes along with the cooked dal, coconut, sambar and rasam powder in a blender to form a smooth paste.
4. Add the remaining oil to the vessel and heat. Add the mustard seeds and let it sputter. Then add curry leaves,hing and the turmeric powder. Add the onions and saute until translucent.
5. Add the dal-tomato-coconut paste, tamarind pulp, jaggery and salt. Add enough water and bring it to a boil. Switch off the heat.
7. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
8. Adjust the seasonings(salt, jaggery, tamarind, sambar powder) according to your taste.

1 comment:

masalamagic said...

OH my Alamelu! This looks too good. Were u in Lakshmi Nursing home that time :-) My parents live parallel to Margosa Road and I used to love Veena Stores idlis, vade and their spicy chutney! I miss those days! Thanks for bringing back nostalgic memories.
And even my mom says vade is mad eonly for shraddha - but we did nto strictly follow those rules :-)