Kuzhi(ku-li) Paniyaram

The Grand Sweets & Snacks, Adyar, Chennai.
During the time when we were in Chennai, I used to make frequent visits to a place called The Grand Sweets & Snacks in Adyar. They had authentic and wonderful variety of sweets, savories, pickles and podi's. Run dominantly by women, their quality was very high. They would hand out complimentary food in "Donnai", leaves knit together like a cup, mostly a rice item which was no match for any home made food in its quality. I have become addicted to their podi's and other things it was difficult to make a change. After moving to US, I wait for my husband to make a business trip to Chennai to bring my favorite items from there. Here, I have to mention that I was introduced to kuzhi paniyaram. They would make fresh paniyaram and serve with sambar and tomato chutney. Kuzhi paniyaram chatti, a special tawa that has small holes is required to make these small balls that a soft and spongy on the inside and crispy on the outside called as paniyarams. Kuzli means "hole", referring to the tawa required for preparation. Idli batter can be used to make these paniyarams, but if want to make these specially, better to make the original batter.
1 cup Urad dal
2 cups boiled Rice
2 cups raw Rice
2 tsp Fenugreek seeds

Soak all in enough water and grind to a smooth batter. Add salt and set aside to ferment for 6 - 8 hrs. Yeast or cooking soda can be added for fermentation.
For the masala:
2 Onions
3 Green Chilies
1” Ginger
Few Curry leaves
1 cup cut peppers - optional
1 cup grated carrot - optional
½ cup grated coconut

In a kadai add 2 tsp of oil and make tadka with few mustard seeds, jeera, hing, a red chili, chopped green chilies and ginger, few curry leaves. Add chopped onions and fry for a few minutes, then add finely cut peppers (red, green), grated carrot and grated coconut. Add salt and fry for a few minutes, remove from the flame and let cool. Add chopped coriander.

Add to the batter and mix well. Add a few drops of oil in each hole to the paniyaram pan and gently drop spoonful batter into each hole. Let cook for a few minutes and turn the other side using a pointed stick (given with the tawa). Remove when nicely done. Cook on medium flame for crispiness.

Serve hot with sambar and tomato chutney or coconut chutney.

Garelu and Perugugarelu (Avada)

Kanumu is the last day of the 3 days Sankranthi festival. Heard from my friends that they will have a feast with a variety of non-vegetarian dishes on this particular day. But, for some of us who are vegetarians, there is a saying "Kanumu nadu minugu thinali" meaning; "should eat urad dal on Kanumu". I personally think since urad dal is a good source of nutrition it is a substitute for meat for vegetarians. Anyone who knows why, do please let me know.
2 cups Urad dal
Chili-ginger paste - Optional
2 tsp Rice flour
Oil to fry

Soak urad dal in water for 2 – 3 hours. Drain water and grind to a smooth batter. Add salt to the dal while grinding, by adding it later the dough will become soggy and watery. Add less quantity of water while grinding. Solid dough gives a good shape to the garelu.

For spicy or karam garelu add chili-ginger paste to the dough. Also chopped onions can be added if you like onion garelu (ulli-garelu).

Heat oil in a kadai (I personally prefer a traditional concave shape kadai for maximum usage of space with less oil) and never let the oil be screaming hot! It burns the first batch.

Add 2 tsp of rice flour to a bowl of water and mix well, keep aside. Wet both hands in this water and take small lemon size dough and place it on the palm of your hand. (A wax paper or Aluminum foil can also be used) flatten it into a nice circle and then make a small hole with a finger in the middle. Gently slide this into oil without disturbing its shape.

Let fry for a few seconds and then keep turning back and forth so it will not burn.Once garelu turn to golden yellow, it’s time to remove from the oil. Place them on paper towels so the excess oil is absorbed.

Ginger (allam) or sesame (nuvvu) chutney compliments garelu.

For perugu garelu also called as avada:Take 4 cups of fresh curd in a big bowl. Add salt and beat it well with a ladle. Make tadka with 1 tsp of ghee and 1tsp of oil using few mustard seeds, jeera, fenugreek seeds and vammu. Add a red chili, hing and chopped green chilies, ginger and few curry leaves. Fry till nicely done and add to the curd. Keep aside.

After frying garelu add piece by piece to the curd and let soak for 1/2 hr and serve them.

Sankranthi Subhakanshalu

Wishing all readers and friends a very happy Sankranthi.Chakrapongali and mango rice, today's specials.

Methati Pakodi

4 large Onions
10 - 12 Green Chilies -Optional
1 tsp Ginger-Garlic-Chili paste
2 scoops Besan - Senaga pindi
1 tsp Rice flour
2 tsp Curd
Few curry leaves
Cashew nuts

Chop onions into small pieces. Add chili-ginger-garlic paste, salt and let it sit with a closed lid for 7-10 min. Onions sweat out water and excess water is not required to mix the flours. Also the pakodi will absorb less oil.

Add besan, rice flour, curry leaves, a pinch of turmeric(optional), 1/2 tsp red chili powder, cashew nuts and mix with 2 tsp of thick curd thoroughly. Chopped green chilies can be added for spicy lovers!

Heat oil in a kadai (I personally prefer a traditional concave shape kadai for maximum usage of space with less oil) and never let the oil be screaming hot! It burns the first batch.

Drop a spoon of hot oil in the mixture; this will make the fried item light(gullaga). A pinch of cooking or baking soda can also be used.

Take hand full of batter and gently drop by small amounts in the oil. Wait for 2 minutes before the batch hardens and then turn back and forth so that they will not burn.

Fry till they all turn into golden yellow, remove from the oil. Place them on paper towels so the excess oil is absorbed.

These are sponge, soft pakodi that are very soft, crispy and tasty. Might wonder if I am contradicting myself, yes crispy on the outside and sponge/soft like inside. Serve with ketchup of choice of mint or coriander chutney. Plain tastes just fine too. Enjoy with a hot cup of tea.

Happy New Year 2010

A new year, a new decade dawns and makes yesterday a history, a memory
Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning; but a going on cycle
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow
Let it be felt; I’ve made of it a happy year.

A very happy new year to all my friends and readers.