The Indian Cooking Challenge takes us to Kerala this month with a dish that I had never come across until we were challenged to try. Srivalli had contacted Shn of Mishmash to allow us to try the recipe she had posted. Shn agreed generously and here I am presenting my trial of the recipe.
This is a steamed, sweet dish which is sold in bakeries in Kerala and Shn calls it the queen of steamed dishes. She had given the process meticulously and even suggested what rice would work and such. I was trying to save the meagre supply of raw tice in my pantry as I bring it from India, reserving for pounding and such. I had some Thai white rice and my first trial was with this rice. I guess the rice was a bit glutonous and had more starch content to it that the vatteppam was looking porous and such but was sticky.
Then I soaked idli rice and proceeded to make which is the recipe I am sharing here. Meanwhile few SOS calls to fellow bloggers Jayasree and Srivalli and repeated reading of the original post and the comments from other members on Srivalli's post to us had been done. I do not remember that I have been so excited about cooking some dish to perfect it as much as I did this one!
Now to the recipe which may at first look intimidating as the procedure is long, but it is not at all so difficult. If you have children coming home hungry from school looking for snacks, I would say try them this.
1 cup raw rice or Idli rice (the aged the rice is the better as the starch content would be lesser) (wash well and soak in water for few hours)
3/4 cup fresh scraped coconut
2 tablespoons cooked rice
About 4 tablespoons of thari kurukku/ which is koozh in tamil ( recipe given below)
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast ( proof with 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/3 cup of warm water)
To Sweeten, Flavour and Garnish:
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cardamom powder
Broken and roasted cashew nuts as desired
Ghee puffed raisins as desired
Ghee to grease the bowl for steaming
To make thari kurukku:
Reserve 2 tablespoons of the soaked rice. Run it in the smallest jar of the mixer to achive a coarse paste.The rice would be in crumbles and not a smooth paste.
Remove from the jar and transfer to a bowl. Wash the jar of the grinder with 1/2 cup of water and add to the coarse paste.
Keep this on medium heat and stir regularly until the paste cooks to a porridge consistence.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Though Mishmash suggests you can remove the required quantity half way through the grinding and prepare this, I found it easier and quicker to go about it all prepared and ready before grinding the major bulk of rice.
I had reserved the cooked rice, made the thari kurukku (both of which have to be cooled before adding to the batter) and let the yeast proof about 15 minutes before grinding the rice.
Drain the soaked rice and grind in a mixer or Indian stone grinder adding water in small quantities to obtain a smooth batter. Towards the point where the batter is almost smooth, add the grated coconut and grind to blend them.
If you are grinding in a mixer and the friction causes the contents to be hot, allow to cool, then add the thari kurukku and cooked rice. Run the mixer until these are well blended.
Then finally add the yeast mix and mix the batter well.
Transfer the batter to a slightly big bowl keeping in mind that the volume of the contents are bound to double with fermentation.
Allow to ferment well. The process of fermantaion varies from 6 hours to overnight depending upon the temperature of the region.
When the fermentation is complete add the sugar and gently stir the batter to incorporate the sugar. Keep cover for anothe hour or two before steaming the batter.
Meanwhile, prepare the garnish by roasting the cashews and raisins in sufficient ghee.
Just before steaming add the crushed/powdered cardamom and nuts and raisins to the batter. Save a few of the nuts and raisins and add them to the top of the steaming cake half way through. this is however optional and you may add the nuts to the batter and proceed.
Place water in the steamer and allow it to heat well.
Grease a fairly flatbottomed pan or a steel plate which has edges, using some generous amount of ghee.
Pour the batter in this dish and steam in your steamer for a good 30 minutes.
Remove from the steamer, allow the dish and the contents to cool well before carefully removing the vattayappam on to a serving plate.
Cut in wedges or squares.
Serve these soft and porous pieces as snack.