Monthly Archives: September 2013

Muzhu Ulunthu Dosai/Black Gram Dosai – Pancakes

 

muzhu ulundhu dosai/black gram pancake
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There are different kinds of Dosais – Traditional and Contemporary! The traditional ones include those pancakes made from a variety of grains and lentils. Like Kezhvaragu Dosai – Finger Millet Pancake; Kambu Dosai – Pearl Millet Pancake; Chola Dosai – Corn Pancake; Gothumai Dosai – Whole Wheat Pancake; Rava Dosai – Semolina Pancake; Adai – Lentil Pancake; Masala Dosai – Rice Pancakes stuffed with dry potato curry and so on.. The categorisation of tradition and contemporary might be a topic of conversation.

Now, this Masala Dosai is a perfect catch! It is a versatile pancake – to stuff the ingredient of one’s choice. The contemporary pancakes cater to the taste buds of people far and wide across the world, with the different kinds of stuffing.

But certainly, the pancakes with the various grains and lentils can be categorised as traditional as 1. they have been prepared through generations and most importantly 2. are becoming almost next to undone presently in households, while they are available at very selective restaurants.

One such kind of Dosai/Pancake made more commonly in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts of Tamilnadu is the Muzhu Ulundhu Dosai or Karuppu Ulundhu Dosai. It is Pancake made with Whole Black Gram. Normal Dosais are made with dehusked or skin removed black gram. This dosai is packed with the goodness of the whole grain and hence high in protein value. Black Gram is also a rich source of Iron, Phosphorus and Calcium.

 

muzhu ulundhu/black gram

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Grinding

Muzhu Ulundhu Dosai is made with the usual Parboiled Rice meant for Idlies and Dosais. The only difference being the Lentil used. The dehusked or deskinned black gram used in Idli and Dosai is substituted with the whole back gram. An easier option too – why? The batter can also be prepared by soaking all ingredients together and then blending them together. The time-consuming job of soaking separately and grinding separately rice and lentil is not needed here!

But originally, the black gram is ground first – soaking part not needed. Yes. you read it right.  Only rice is soaked and the black gram is ground without being soaked. This might not work well with the present day electric grinders.

Amma says in those days when there were no electrical grinders, the muzhu ulundhu/black gram was ground in the Aattural – the hand machine to grind the batter. In the Aattural, the unsoaked black gram would be pounded first and then ground well with water until fluffy. After the ground gram is removed, the soaked parboiled rice is ground and mixed well with salt – no ladles please – only with hands. I had mentioned before too – the heat of the body through the mixing hands would let the batter ferment well and produce soft idlies or crispy dosais.

Now, if we use the black gram directly in the wet grinder of today, the stone inside might be damaged…  or the motor inside might be affected – this one is quite practical and if the above mentioned problems do not arise – there would be a great amount of noise pollution created due to the dry grinding. So, in simple terms, just soak the black gram for a strain free treat.

When making the batter for a small family, the quantity of black gram to be soaked would be less  – for a household of three members like ours might need batter for 12-15 dosais – breakfast or dinner for two schedules. Here soaking and grinding separately would be difficult to grind in the grinder. So, I soak both rice and black gram together and grind together and this has not made any big difference in the taste too.

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This Dosai/Pancake batter comes out wonderfully fluffy after fermentation. The dosais can be made soft and thick or crispy as per one’s choice. I prefer the soft version and like most of the lentil dosais, muzhu ulundhu dosai tastes best with a spicy chutney. In our houses, it is the Vengaya Thuvayal or the Onion Chutney/Dip. With very limited ingredients – onions, garlic, tamarind and red chillies this chutney is the perfect match for a dosai with an earthy flavour due to the black gram.

 

dosai and thuvayal

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Muzhu Ulundhu Dosai/Karuppu Ulundhu Dosai/Black Gram Pancakes

 

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Ingredients (makes 25-35 pancakes)

  • puzhungal arisi/parboiled rice – 3 cups
  • muzhu ulundhu/black gram – 1 cup
  • venthayam/fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
  • salt – 1 1/2 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and soak rice, black gram and fenugreek seeds together for 4 hours
  2. Grind to a smooth paste with the same soaked water
  3. Add salt and mix well
  4. Let the batter ferment for a minimum 6 hours or overnight according to the heat in the kitchen – preferably overnight.
  5. Make soft or crispy dosais/pancakes. To make dosais, see https://dosaikal.com/basic-dosaidosa.

 


making dosai on dosaikal/pan

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Notes:

  1. Reduce the quantity to make lesser dosais but in the ratio 3:1 – rice:black gram.
  2. Fenugreek seeds are optional – but they aid in the versatility of dosais – crisp, soft or fluffy with added flavour.
  3. Always use gingelly oil if possible, for the best tasty Dosais.
  4. A well fermented batter would produce a pore-ful dosai!

 

well fermented and dosai with pores
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Num Kom-Sticky Rice Cakes with coconut filling/Khmer Kozhukkattai!

Modhakam (http://modhakam-pillayar-chaturthi-special), Kara Kozhukkattai (http://pidi-kozhukkattai-karamsalted-rice-dumplings) and Inippu Kozhukkattai (http://inippuvella-k-kozhukkattaijaggery-rice-dumplings) for Pillayar Chaturthi have been made in the recent posts. So why not make this Pillayar Chaturthi a fusion festival – with a Tamil-Khmer festive sweet… that which also somewhat resembles our Poorana Kozhukkattai (Dumplings with filling) in preparation and filling!
Here is Num Kom – The Cambodian Sticky Rice Cake!

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Cambodia with the staple food rice has many varieties of food made with Rice, especially the Glutinous Rice or the Sticky Rice.

Glutinous rice (Oryza sativa var. glutinosa; also called sticky rice, sweet rice or waxy rice) is a type of rice grown mainly in Southeast and East Asia, which has opaque grains, very low amylose content, and is especially sticky when cooked. It is called glutinous (< Latin glūtinōsus)[1] in the sense of being glue-like or sticky, and not in the sense of containing gluten. While often called “sticky rice”, it differs from non-glutinous strains of japonica rice which also become sticky to some degree when cooked. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sticky_rice

 

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Some of the main delicacies made for special occasions with the Sticky Rice are the different kinds of Rice Cakes. Special occasions can be Weddings, Khmer New Year or Pchum Ben (Festival devoted to worship of ancestors).

The Rice Cake varieties can be Num Kom,  Num Ansom Chrouk and Nom Ansom Chek. Num means Cake in general. Nom Kom is the Rice Cake with coconut and palm sugar filling. Ansom Chrouk has a filling mainly of pork fat and green bean and can be a main course.  Ansom Chek has a filling of banana and it is served as a dessert.

During Pchum Ben – where the ancestors of every family are worshipped – women of the household, young and old sit together and prepare Num Kom.  The Rice Cakes require a lot of time wrapping them in banana leaf – folded in a particular pattern.  While Num Kom – the coconut filled rice cake needs less time comparitively,  there are other fillings to the rice cake – like pork meat – cooking time of which is longer. So, they say the womenfolk sit chatting in the night making hundreds of rice cakes, while the different kinds of cakes get cooked for the next day ceremony.

Thanks to http://blog.aseankorea.org/archives/16079 – from which I could collect some interesting information about these Rice Cakes.

Special thanks to my friend and one of the pioneer bloggers of Cambodia at a very young age – Keonila of blueladyblog.com for helping me out in the search of more authentic information. Also patiently answering my doubts on the fillings of Nom Kom. She is one of the top 5 bloggers of Cambodia and a social media advocate. Thankyou Nila!

And all those other friends who may be reading this – do correct me when I am wrong on information – and please do not hesitate to share your thoughts. This would help me get a better insight into the traditions and culture behind the cuisine of Cambodia!

This Rice Cake could not have been prepared without the guidance and helping hands  of friend ‘D’, who played teacher in letting me learn this cake – with the taste and twist (literally) of banana leaves. Thank you ‘D’.
Num Kom

 

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Num Kom is a Rice Cake made with the outer shell of Sticky Rice with a filling of coconut and palm sugar, wrapped in banana leaf and steamed.

Originally palm sugar is used as sweetener. Since I did not have it, I substituted with the home made jaggery syrup which was available. Incidentally, when I made modhakam/poorana kozhukkattai on pillayar chathurthi, there was no jaggery at home as well in the Indian shop I get it from. I could only palm sugar instead. It was meant to be this way I suppose – Indian Kozhukkattai (Rice Dumplings) substituted with palm sugar and Khmer Kozhukkattai (Rice Cakes) with jaggery.

 


Ingredients (makes 7-8 num koms)

 

for the filling
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  • glutinous rice/sticky rice – 175 grams (1 cup – a little more or less)
  • grated coconut – 1 cup
  • sesame seeds – 3 tsp
  • jaggery syrup – little less than 1/2 cup
  • salt – a pinch
  • banana leaves to wrap

Method of Preparation

 

I. Preparation of Outer Shell/Rice Covering

 

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We decided to go for the traditional method of soaking rice and making a paste. The paste is strained in a netted cloth and the water content remaining in the paste would go. Then, hot water is added to somewhat dry dough to make it easy to wrap the filling inside.

 

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This was a flop with the cloth I had was thick and could not strain the water away.. Emergency!!!  Got some glutinous rice powder and mixed it with the rice paste and converted it into the required right consistency to make Num Kom

Keep aside.

 

II. Preparation of filling
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  1. In a wide pan, dry roast sesame seeds till slightly brown. Preferably black sesame – but I had white.
  2. Switch off the stove and add grated coconut and jaggery syrup
  3. If one uses palm sugar, it mixes well very fast and easily
  4. Frying more or making the filling thick and sticky as in south indian dumplings is not needed here
  5. Mix well and keep aside.

 


III. Preparation of Rice Cake

 

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  1. Make small balls of rice dough
  2. Flatten each to keep the filling inside
  3. Fill with coconut-sesame-jaggery filling
  4. Close and make a ball

IV. Folding the Rice Cake in Banana Leaf

1. Cut the banana leaves in 8 by 7 inches  (khmer food cooking tutorial: num kom’s (steam rice cake with coconut)

2. Wash the leaves well and wipe them clean with cloth

3. Fold each leaf vertically and give it a slightly cross cut

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4. The cut leaves look like this

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5. Fold it vertically – one fold

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6. Next fold – make it a ‘V’

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7. There would be two pockets – open the wider pocket

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8. Grease the leaf and place the Rice Cake inside

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9. Do not close it the same side where the leaf looks ‘V’ – but, fold the leaf to close the cake in the middle portion where there is a double slit – now, this is a tricky part I forgot to capture. I was learning to close it and was quite successful too. But no photos please. Shall try again for sure!

10. Done and the cakes are ready to be steamed.

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V. Steaming Num Kom

place the rice cakes randomly in the vessel
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  1. Boil water in a steamer
  2. In the container, place banana leaves as base. This prevents the num koms from sticking to the bottom of the vessel and also gives more banana leaf fragrance and flavour to the steamed cakes
  3. Arrange the prepared rice cakes. Be careful not to damage the shape
  4. Place more banana leaves on top and close the steamer with lid
  5. Steam for about 15 minutes
  6. Num Kom is ready

 

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Sounds so similar, feels so familiar – yet so different! This holds good to the cuisine connections of Cambodia and South India! Shall explore more…

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Inippu/Vella-k-kozhukkattai/Jaggery Rice Dumplings – Steamed

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Pillayar Chathurthi/Ganesh Chathurthi/Vinayaka Chathurthi falls on September 9 this year. It is Poorana Kozhukkattai – Stuffed rice dumplings or Modhakam the favourite of most of the households. (For Modhakam – see modhakam-pillayar-chaturthi-special.) There can be variations in the stuffing too – coconut-jaggery filling or sesame-jaggery. I hear some make kadalai paruppu/Channa Dhal – jaggery filling in their Poorana Kozhukkattai! Uppu Kozhukkattai (pidi-kozhukkattai-karamsalted-rice-dumplings) and Vella-k-kozhukkattai are the dumplings which have no stuffing but a mixture of few ingredients to make the kozhukkattai sweet or spicy.

Vella-k-kozhukkattai is the sweet rice dumpling. Vellam means Jaggery in Tamil language and Kozhukkattai is Rice Dumpling. The taste of coconut and jaggery blended with cardamom powder tastes heavenly and is versatile in south indian cooking.  It can be made as Poorana Kozhukkattai/Modhakam, Poli – sweet stuffed chappathis (poli-a-different-story/) or non-stuffed plain-mixed rice dumpling, which is what I am writing about today – Vella-k-Kozhukkattai!

This steamed rice dumpling has the simple mix of grated coconut, jaggery and cardamom powder with the core ingredient – rice flour. This is yet another version of ‘Pidi Kozhukkattai’ – Given the shape by pressing with hands! This can be a healthy snack for children any time – and what more those little hands can make their own shapes and munch them too!!

For the initial procedures of grinding rice flour and roasting it to be ready to make dumplings – please see https://dosaikal.com/2013/07/29/pidi-kozhukkattai-karamsalted-rice-dumplings. We directly move on to make the dough ready for kozhukkattai.
Vella-k-Kozhukkattai/Steamed Sweet Rice Dumplings(with Jaggery)

Ingredients

  • arisi maavu/rice powder – 1 cup
  • vellam/jaggery – 1/2 cup (for the sweet toothed can make 3/4)
  • thengai thuruval/grated coconut – 1/2 cup or more as per taste
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • thanneer/water – 3/4 cup
  • nallennai/gingelly oil – 1 tsp to grease hands and 1 tsp to grease vessel/idli plate

 

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Method of Preparation
  1. Dry roast the ground rice flour to take away the raw smell out of it
  2. Sieve the flour, remove granules away and take the required quantity of smooth flour in a wide bowl to mix all the ingredients in
  3. Mix grated coconut and cardamom powder to rice flour
  4. Dissolve jaggery in water and strain for impurities
  5. Boil jaggery-water in sim position for 3 minutes – this would not make a thick syrup but yet a thin syrup which will blend well with rice flour
  6. Pour the hot syrup on rice flour and mix well into a soft dough
  7. Add jaggery syrup carefully because more water might make the dough sticky.  Stop when you feel water is enough to make a soft dough
  8. Half teaspoon of nei/clarified butter can be melted and pour in the dough for some festive aroma, which is purely optional
  9. The dough should be neither sticky nor dry
  10. Slightly grease hands with gingelly oil/clarified butter, so that dough doesn’t stick to hands
  11. Take small portions in hand and press slightly with fingers, to get the beautiful impression of fingers in the rice dough
  12. Steam for 8 to 10 minutes.
  13. Always grease the bowl/idli vessel before placing kozhukkattais to steam. This helps dumplings from not sticking to the vessel
  14. Inippu Vella-k-Kozhukkattai/Sweet Jaggery Dumpling is ready.

 

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Notes:
  1. Since the rice flour is dry roasted, cooking time is less.
  2. Always sieve the ground flour after roasting. Granules tend to form while roasting.
  3. Always make thin jaggery syrup first and filter as jaggery of any kind would have mud/sand particles in it.
  4. Too thick a syrup would make dumplings harder – Be careful not to make a thick syrup .
  5. I somehow feel comfortable with the syrup if boiled a little while. So, I let the jaggery water boil a bit but yet not loose its thin consistency. Then add to rice flour-coconut-cardamom powder mixture.
  6. Thin jaggery syrup should be boiling hot. By this, the rice flour becomes cooked a bit.
  7. If one is using rice flour from shops, use the flour meant for Idiyappam-string hoppers and do not forget to roast it a bit.
  8. Thick dough might make dumplings hard and sticky dough might not result in dumplings at all. A slightly soft yet tight dough is needed for soft kozhukkattais.
  9. Any problem with the shape, just make small balls and steam.
  10. Both Kaara-k-Kozhukkattai and Vella-k-kozhukkattai would become dry too quick. For immediate consumption, keep in a hot case. Or else, cover it well and lightly steam before serving. Never leave it open.

 

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The Grand Palace – Bangkok

 

So, we cross the road and enter into the Royal Palace.

The Royal Palace was the official residence if the Kings since 1782 and has been renovated often to preserve its grandeur. Though the Royal Family does not reside here, it is open for public view and is used for ceremonial purposes. Most of the buildings inside the Palace complex are closed to the public.

 

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As we walk inside the long palace path, we come across three strikingly beautiful towers. These represent three different styles of temple architecture – Srilankan, Thai and Khmer. The golden stupa to the left representing19th century Srilankan, the middle pillared tower representing Thai and the right representing Khmer Architecture. The Srilankan Stupa is worshipped as the most sacred of all the three towers as Buddha’s relics – a piece of Buddha’s breast bone- are preserved here.

We are greeted by Yakshas – Demons guarding the Palace –

 

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The intensely ornate Thai style architecture Library which contain sacred Buddhist manuscripts.

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and the tranquil Buddha sitting in stone on the side of the library –

 

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Ramakien

 

The Ramakien (รามเกียรติ์, “Glory of Rama”, sometimes also spelled Ramakien) is Thailand‘s national epic, derived from the Hindu epic Ramayana.

While the main story is identical to that of the Ramayana, many other aspects were transposed into a Thai context, such as the clothes, weapons, topography, and elements of nature, which are described as being Thai in style.

The Ramayana came to Southeast Asia by means of Tamil Indian traders and scholars who traded with the Khmer kingdoms (such as Funan and Angkor) and Srivijaya, with whom the Indians shared close economic and cultural ties.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramakien

 

KambaRamayanam

In Tamil, Ramayanam is called ‘Kambaramayanam’ – Ramayanam written by Poet Kambar. Kambaramayanam occupies special place in the history of Tamil Literature for its distinct literary presentation and delivery of emotions through crisp language skills – by the ‘King of Poetry’ – Kavichakravarthy Kambar as he is hailed.

Kambar adopted Valmiki’s original Ramayana in the Tamil style, with changes made according to Tamil Culture. In other words, it is the re-telling of the story of Lord Rama without alienating from the Tamil lifestyle.

 

One of the situations is where Ravana the king abducts Sita from the hut where she is staying with Rama. In the Sanskrit version, Ravanaa lifts Sita and carries her. But this is unthinkable to the Tamilian. So Kambar makes a deviation and states that he lifted her up along with the hut and the earth below it and carried that piece of earth, hut and the lady in it. There are several such instances. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kambar_poet

 

Scenes of Ramakien, the Thai version of the Ramayanam decorates the walls in the Royal Palace Complex.

 

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Is this Hanuman helping Rama’s force cross the sea to Lanka?

 

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A stone model of Angkor Wat, Cambodia – the largest religious structure in the world, can be seen-

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Kinnara and Kinnaree

Golden statues of Kinnara and Kinnaree greet the visitors –

In Southeast Asian mythology, Kinnaris, the female counterpart of Kinnaras, are depicted as half-bird, half-woman creatures. One of the many creatures that inhabit the mythical Himavanta. Kinnaris have the head, torso, and arms of a woman and the wings, tail and feet of a swan. She is renowned for her dance, song and poetry, and is a traditional symbol of feminine beauty, grace and accomplishment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinnara

 

This Kinnaree is an exclusive one – body of a female and legs and tail of a lion! Please do let me know if she is also a Kinnaree or has any other specific name in the mystical world.

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and her counterpart – half male and half lion – our guide mentions he is also called Narasimha – the sanskrit word for man and lion.

 

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And the exclusive Naga – Snake – with the head of an apsara – devine female and body of a snake… The usual Naga has the head of a demon and body of a snake – our guide tells us!

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Wat Phra Kaew – The Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Wat Phra Kaew is considered the most sacred of the Buddhist temples in Thailand. The statue of Buddha is just over 2 feet tall and no photographs allowed from inside the temple room. Buddha is seated in a well crafted shrine, glittering in gold.

The Emarald Buddha is adorned with different costumes three time a year – summer, winter and the rainy months of the year. Only The King touches the statue and changes the costume of Buddha.

 

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and the costumes for the three seasons –

 

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Then we proceeded to the Grand Palace Grounds – the different Halls, added and renovated by successor Kings. Ancient Buddha stupas, Temples and Murals from literature, Ornate Temple Architecture in glittery gold – and a Palace Hall with a European touch – visit to Grand Palace has been an enthralling majestic experience. The shine of gold in bright sunny daylight and the master piece architectural beauty cannot surely be captured in one’s camera.

The efforts put to safeguard these important symbols of culture and literature –  the endless renovation works being carried over are truly commendable. I would never miss another chance to visit again!

 

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