This is one of my earliest posts but since it is a Ramadan Iftar item, I thought of republishing it. This is also one way of making meen pathiri.i.e. without grinding the rice and using rice powder instead.
Ada, as most south Indians know, is a delicious preparation of sweetened grated coconut encased in a layer of rice paste , wrapped in banana leaves and then steam-cooked. As it cooks, the rice absorbs the earthy aroma of the banana leaves. I love the ada whether it is filled with coconut and sugar, jaggery, or jackfruit.
But the similar preparation I was used to at my household, was pathiris and pies made of rice paste, rice flour, or steamed rice. One such pie (pathiri) is the meen pathiri, rice ground to a paste with coconut and spices, and filled with fish/shrimp masala and steamed in banana leaves. While the meen pathiri is traditionally made as a pie, cut into triangles and served, I found it easier to handle the stuffing when it is shaped as an ada. Quite like a pocket pita sandwich. So it can be made either way.
I first tasted the shrimp version of the pathiri when my aunt made it and found it a nice variation from the fish masala as the shrimp adds a hint of sweetness to counter the spicy filling. So this recipe from my aunt(elama) was a must add to my collection, especially since we get more fresh shrimps here than fresh sea fish. And though I cannot recreate the flavor of banana leaves, I reconciled to making pathiris using parchment paper or aluminum foil. Not quite the same, but the contrasting texture of soft and crunchy, the mild coconut flavored rice shell and the spicy shrimp filling is just as satisfying.So I decided to blog abou the shrimp ada before the meen pathiri.
You will need: this makes about 10 adas
For the filling:
Onion- 3 medium sized ones
Tomato-1 medium sized one
Green chilies- 4
Red chili powder-1 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- 3 sprigs
Salt to taste
Oil- 4 tbsp
For dry roast:
Coconut grated-1/2 cup
Shallots-4 small ones chopped
Fennel seeds-1/2 tsp
Green chilis-2 chopped
1. Wash and marinate the shrimps in ½ tsp chili powder, ¼ tsp turmeric and ½ tsp salt. Keep for 15 mins.
2. Chop the onions, curry leaves and green chilies finely .Heat 2 tbsp oil and sauté the onions, chilies and leaves in that order. When they look translucent, add the chopped tomato and the spice powders. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or till the tomatoes look pulpy and add salt. Add a bit more oil if needed. Stir and sauté till the whole mixture gives out oil and moves as one mass in the pan. Keep aside. In another pan, add the shrimp and let it cook in its own juice till all the juice dries out. Add the remaining 2 tbsp oil and let it fry for a minute or two.
3. Remove and coarsely chop the shrimps (or use a chopper) and add to the onion mix and stir together on low heat.
4. Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet or a heavy bottom pan, dry roast the ingredients specified above, all together on very low heat till the coconut gives out its aroma and starts turning brown at the edges. Take it off the flame and pulse in a dry grinder to powder it coarsely. No water is to be added.
5. Add the powdered coconut to the shrimp mixture and stir everything together. Turn off and let it cool down before filling.
The rice paste:
Rice flour- 1cup
Salt- ½ tsp
Fennel seed powder- ½ tsp
Coconut milk - ¼ cup (or use ¼ cup coconut ground with little water)
The rice shell can be made by soaking parboiled rice and grinding it with coconut and fennel seeds to a wet paste, as RP of My Worshop has described, or you can use rice flour mixed with water to make a pliable paste as Healthy n Spicy has described.
Two reasons for using the longer method of cooking the rice flour. a) so that it remains super soft the next day also. b) To make it easier to roll it out thinly.
6. Heat the water with salt till it boils and then add the rice flour. Do not stir. Turn off the flame and keep it covered for 5 minutes. Open it and stir in with the handle of a spoon and cover it again for 5 more minutes. Spread the flour mix onto a mixing plate and let it cool down. Add the coconut milk/ground and fennel powder and then knead it into dough. It will be a little sticky to begin with but as the dough comes together, it gets easier. The final consistency is a little wet as compared to a bread or a chappathi dough.
7. Cut parchment paper into suitable size squares. Place a lemon size ball on the paper and flatten it with the heel of the hand (like doing karate chops) to avoid sticking to the hand. If that is difficult, place another parchment paper over it and roll it with a rolling pin to a palm sized disc. Remove the top paper carefully. Place 2 tbsp of the filling on one half of the dough and gently fold over the other side (with paper) to align exactly at the edges and seal the edges, pressing down on the paper.
Check out Priya's kitchen for a wonderful description of the ada with emphasis on steaming and parchment paper.
For steaming, use a steamer or rice cooker or any large vessel half filled with water. Place a colander or a steamer basket over the water when the water boils and reduce heat to medium. Place the adas in the basket, cover it and cook for 7-10 minutes. Let it cool down before serving.