Thursday, July 24, 2008
AvarekaaLu kaDubu (Steamed rice Dumplings)
AvarekaaLu is a legume, that much I know, but I dont know what it is called in English. The frozen version which is available here in the Indian Stores is labeled 'Surti-Lilva'. Sounds to me like Hindi/North Indian nomenclature.... anyone with more info please share....
Anyhow, AvarekaaLu as it is known in Kannada, claims a very special place in the hearts of us Kannadigas. The versions in which it is devoured are tongue teasingly, palette pleasingly innumerable. To list a few:
AvarekaaLu hurigaaLu - deep fried and seasoned with spices n salt
Come the AvarekaaLu season and the mundane everyday question posed across the compound walls of houses "ivattu yenu thinDi/aDige?" (whats for breakfast/lunch today?)takes a small tasty twist and becomes "ivattu avarekaaLindu yenu nimmaneli?"
(what version of avarekaaLu have you cooked today?), cos, invariably every house would have cooked something or the other using the versatile bean. I have a friend here who's from Bangalore and who gets nostalgic and fondly remembers how her aunts back there buy avarekaaLu, peel the pods and extract the beans, sort them by the size(the young tender beans are used for rotti's etc., and the robust big ones are used for saagu, huLi etc.,), soak them or not..... I am soooo with her on this one, I just dont know what to say. It totally leaves me 'tongue' tied.
Typically druing this season, the hands of housewives are constantly working on the avarekaaLu, in one way or the other, peeling, soaking, 'hichk'ing ha haa haaaa... well, 'hichuku' in KannaDa means the act of squishing. The fresh beans are soaked for 3-4 hours and then squished between the thumb and forefinger to extract the transparent external skin on the beans. Removing this external rubbery skin renders the beans more tasty compared to the otherwise bland taste. It is a very tedious task and is pursued in leisure. It is a common household scene where women(kids and hubbies get involved too..) sit in front of the TV watching the late night melodramatic Soaps, their hands rigorously working on squishing the avarekaaLu. In the mornings you can see mounds of avareKaaLu peel in front of most of the houses, and stray cows literally fighting each other to eat their seasonal delicacy. AvarekaaLu thus squished, becomes 'hichukida avarekaaLu'. Now-a-days you get avarekaaLu in all its stages, in the pod, peeled and even hichukida avarekaaLu.
Not all recipes call for 'hichukida avarekaaLu', and it is more of a personal preference. Some like it skin-on, some like it without. Here, if you are using the frozen ones, then you can use it as is, as it cooks fast. So, here goes the recipe of avareKaaLu kaDubu. Hope you all enjoy it!
2 cups akki tari(akki rave/rice sooji/cream of rice/broken rice)
4 cups of Water
3/4 cup avarekaaLu, fresh or frozen
2 full teaspoons or more of ghee(clarified butter)
1 teaspoon jeerige(Cumin Seeds/jeera)
1/2 teaspoon Pepper powder
8-10 Curry Leaves, chopped fine
A pinch of ingu(Hing/asafoetida)
Chopped coriander leaves(optional)
Salt to taste
1. In a pan slightly fry the rice sooji on low heat until it is just warm. Pour it on to a plate and set aside to cool.
2. In the same pan, heat the ghee and when hot but not smoking, lower the head and add the Cumin Seeds. When they start sputtering, add the Hing, Curry leaves and pepper powder. Keep stirring.
3. Add in the avarekaaLu and fry for a minute or two.
4. Add the water and let it come to a boil.
5. Season it with salt and coriander leaves(if using). This is the only time you get to add salt, taste the water if you have to, to decide on the right amount of salt.
6. Slowly add the rice sooji while stirring continuously. Take care not to form any lumps.
7. When all the water has been soaked up, take of the heat and let it cool down a bit.
8. When cool enough to handle, form balls out of fistfuls of the mixture, and steam them for 5 minutes, just like idlies. You can say they are done when the surface starts glistening.
9. Serve hot with coconut chutney.