I first came across the name string hoppers in the manual that came along with my very first Sumeet mixer-grinder. Read the recipe and wondered how different that was from the sevai/shavige we usually make. Then I realised that was just the idiyaappam we relish outside home, in restaurants.
I make sevai very often as my husband loves it, having been a regular breakfast on Sunday mornings at his parents home. My sister was the one who pointed out that idiyaappam will be a quickie compared to the usual sevai, if you keep the flour readymade. The flour can be made in big quantity and stored for quite a while. Then the task is a breeze and you can have it with your favourite side dish. I keep the powder in stock in my pantry.
Given a choice, I will incline to sevai as they are softer. But if I am looking for a quick yet filling dish, I would go with idiyaappam.
To prepare the rice flour:
Wash and soak raw rice for an hour.
Drain and spread on a clean cloth for a few minutes.
Pound to a very fine powder in the mixie. If you have the facility of a commercial mill, you may get the grinding done there in larger quantities. You may do the pounding in small batches until all the soaked rice has been powdered.
Heat a heavy, rounded bottom pan. Roast the rice powder on a medium flame constantly tossing around until you are able to draw a line dropping the powder through your fingers.
Seive for lumps and these lumps can be powdered again.
Allow the roasted powder to cool before storing in clean air tight containers.
This can be stored at room temperature for a couple of months.
Powedered and roasted rice flour 1 cup
Water 1 and 1/3 cups (sometimes a little more depending on the age of the rice) (usually 1 cup is the measurement given in many books, but I have found that the dough dries up quickly, hence add more water.)
Gingley oil or any cooking oil 2 teaspoons
Salt to taste.
How to proceed:
Take the measured water, salt and oil in a pan and bring the water to boil.
Remove from the fire.
Insert a long handled ladle in the water and drop the rice flour in. Give one brisk stir and cover the pan tight.
Leave for about 20 minutes allowing the dough to cool.
Open and using cool water/little amount of oil for your palms, mix the dough kneading it applying some pressure. Knead to a smooth lump free dough. If necessary increase the oil by another teaspoon.
Prepare two or three flat plates that may fit in the steamer with ease. Fit the murukku press with the disc that has fine pores.
Pour some water in the steamer and heat it.
Make fist size balls of the dough, put a ball in the cylinder of the press.
Pipe out the dough on one of the plates in an evenly distributed circle.
Place the plate inside the steamer and allow two minutes of steaming.
Open the lid and remove this plate. Meanwhile, press the next and steam. Repeat the above steaming process.
While the second is being steamed, allow the first idiyaappam to cool just a bit and remove from the plate. This plate is now ready for the next ball of dough to be pressed on.
Place the steamed idiyaappams on a wide plate, slightly apart until ready to serve.
Idiyaappams can be served either hot or just about warm with hot kurma, sweetened coconut milk or stew. I make the ceylon kootu to go with idiyaappams.