Idli Dosa Batter

Ever since I can remember, our family has been very big on South Indian breakfasts. Idlis, dosas and uthappams were an everyday thing and amongst the basics that I was taught to make. I hear a lot of people struggle with getting the batter right and I think once you get the proportions right, or start understanding how it works, it is fairly easy to do. Making this batter requires just a simple understanding of its nature, quite like with baking bread or cakes. Just knowing how the process works and what gives it it’s texture is all you need.

While my Mom has her own recipe for the batter, I now use a recipe that I’ve learnt from a lot of amazing women who have put it up on their blogs, namely – happyandharried, hebbarskitchen, vegrecipesofindia and kannammacooks. I shall try my best to help you with the process but please go and have a look at their blogs to get a better understanding.

While a lot depends on the temperature in which the fermentation happens, this is a basic ratio for the batter-

  • Idli rice – 1 cup
  • Urad dal – 1/2 cup
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Poha – 1/4 th cup ( This can also be substituted with cooked rice, although I have never tried doing it)
  • Salt –  to taste ( Please keep in mind that salt works to retard the fermentation, so salt it mildly if it is winter and well if it is summer. You can always add more salt as needed once the fermentation is complete)
  • Water – as needed ( Again, be careful of not over thinning the batter)

 

Wash the rice, dal and fenugreek well and soak all the separately, overnight. The next morning soak the poha for 5 minutes. Grind everything separately again. The dal in particular needs to ground very well and for long.

Alternatively, you can soak the rice and poha together and the dal and fenugreek together before grinding them up.

In both the cases, take care to not add too much water to the mix.

Add salt, as required, and mix well with your clean hands. Leave to rise overnight either on the kitchen counter or in a warm (but switched off) oven, if you live in a cold climate.

Make sure you leave at least half of the container empty so the batter can ferment and rise overnight without spillage.

Ideally the idlis are made the first day, dosas follow and uthappams at the end. Take care not to mix the batter too much as you scoop up the froth at the top to make idlis.

2X4A0462

I make the dosas on a cast iron tawa that that has been seasoned painstakingly and is something I am extremely proud of. The batter will of course need to be thinned to spreading consistency and salted to taste.

2X4A0159

Uthappams are made when the batter has soured a little and you can see the beautiful little holes form all over the pancake. We love our onion podi and onion capsicum podi version and this is our ideal Sunday breakfast.

2X4A0547

Hope this inspires you to give making your own batter a try. Let me know how it goes for you and I shall try my best to help you with any questions you might have! Happy Breakfasting!

Hakka Noodles

Growing up in Calcutta, the one thing you develop a hankering for once you move away, is the indo chinese food that is found at almost every street corner. The Hakka technique of cooking is called so because the vast majority of Chinese settlers in Calcutta were from the Hakka region.

There are Chili, schezwan, sweet and sour, american chopsuey and all variations of Chinese food that I’m sure would raise a few eyebrows in the motherland. This is a variation of the typical roadside vegetarian “chowmein” as it is called. Since it is always cooked up right in front of you, it is very easily customised.

You might find it hard to believe but one of my favourite stall guys even serves up his chowmein with chopped cucumber, carrot, beet, onion and a liberal sousing of somewhat orangey looking ketchup. However weird it sounds, it all seems to work amazingly well together. Hope you enjoy cooking and eating these as much as we did.

 

Vegetarian Hakka Chowmein (serves 4)

Ingredients :

Noodles 1 packet -200/250 gms

Ginger garlic finely chopped – 1 tablespoon or little more

Mixed veg cut into thin  strips – cabbage, capsicum, carrot, beans, mushrooms, spring onion

Soya sauce

Vinegar

Black pepper + salt

Chinese spice mix [ I used Keya but you can pick any you like]

Method:

Add salt and oil to boiling water, cook noodles a minute less than instructed on the box. Drain and rinse under cold water. This helps the noodles to stop cooking and not become a soggy mess. Add oil and toss the noodles so they don’t stick together.

Heat oil in a large wok and add chopped ginger garlic, after a couple of minutess add in chopped spring onion followed by carrot, mushroom and beans. This is done in this order to make sure each vegetable gets the cooking time it needs. Fry on high heat for couple of mins and add in cabbage and capsicum. Sauté for another couple of minutes. Add soya sauce, some Chinese spice mix and salt and pepper. Add in cooked noodles and vinegar. Mix well on high flame and serve garnished with the green spring onion.

I used organic apple cider vinegar instead of the regular synthetic one. You can use the white vinegar if it’s more easily accessible or you are better adapted to that taste.

Please let me know how you liked this!

 

Bon Apetit!