November 25, 2009
Kadala Kari/ Parippu Paysaam with Pidis/ Chana Dal Kheer
It's been a long month and am just glad to be sitting here nearly at the end of it, sighing in relief! Some days dragged their feet, some days got stretched taut like a rubber band only to have to let go and let it snap back with a sting. If I start to tell you what all happened in the last month, I will be here all evening, so suffices to say that our house has finally changed hands and we have moved out into an apartment. Even though I am writing it here now, it's still a bit hard to believe and sink in.
Since this is the country where you can return anything ( well, anything you buy and sometimes what you don't buy) I still get nightmares where our buyer wants to return the house for some weird reason or the other. I guess it will take a while, to settle in.
When you start out a life after college, there are milestones in the journey that mark stages or turning points, which influence our future decisions. First job, getting married, first place where you set up house on your own, having kid/kids, moving out of the country, maybe first car, buying a house etc.. and many many more big and small milestones in whatever order ...which our parents have gone through and makes them wiser and "experienced". Now I feel I should add selling a house to that list, even though earlier I never thought it was a big deal. :)
Anyway, to move on, its a whole new adventure now, getting used to a new town and school, finding out the local halal and Indian grocery shops, scouting the local supermarkets and retailers. Can't do without them and we got really spoiled by our previous location where every retailer and every kind of grocery store..Indian, Malayalee, Asian, Farmers Market, Supermarkets.....were all just a turn and hop away. Though there are boxes yet to be unpacked all around the house, its exhilarating to look up maps and figure out new roads and parks. It will wane, I know but for now there is tons to do.
So what were my first ventures in the kitchen? Unlike my mom who would have the kitchen running first, I was reluctant to set the kitchen and studiously avoided unpacking the boxes blocking the way around the kitchen; instead merrily unpacking all unnecessary items. When it became too tough to walk without scraping my knee on the boxes, the boxes got opened and then everything got laid out on the kitchen counter instead. I still didn't want to assign spaces. The kitchen is my lab and was still wary having to get used to the different configuration of the working triangle here and different stove top, flame....i can find all kinds of excuses.
I finally made a simple meal of kachiya moru curry, long beans thoran, omelette and rice to break the ice. After that we are slowly getting acquainted and moving onto parippu curry, beef varatiyathu, eggplant fry and other staples. I just have to make a payasam now to seal the deal. Then it will feel like home.:)
So till then, here is a payasam that I had made some time earlier. This is a traditional Malabar recipe and most of you probably have never tasted it. It is called Kadala Kari meaning Lentil Curry, which is a big misnomer. It is a payasam made with Bengal Gram/Chana dal / Kadala parippu and Ari Pidi. Ari pidi is a very small dumpling; its made of parboiled rice flour dough which are then rolled into small pidis or balls and then steamed. Very labor intensive and back home its made on occasions with the pidi rollling being done a group of ladies together. Thus payasam is sweetened with sugar and is a very light dessert, more like an evening tea snack, heavy with the pidis and the dal.
I am a big fan of this kari ( though its not popular with the rest of the family)and love it as snack or dessert since it reminds me of my grandmother's house..its one of the few spoonable desserts that she likes to make. I add nuts and raisins sauteed in ghee but my mom reminds me that those things were not common in their houses and it mostly was not garnished with anything.
Another version of this kari that I like is made with chana dal, cooked with rice ada and coconut milk, sweetened with jaggery. That feels more like a payasam/kheer to me.
You will need:
Bengal Gram:3/4 cup
Rice Flour:3/4 cup( Use parboiled rice flour if you can find it) or Par boiled Rice-1 cup
Cardamom powder: A good pinch
Sugar: 3/4cup or to taste
Coconut Milk-1 cup heavy milk plus 2 cups light second milk.
Soak the parboiled rice in water for 5 hours. Drain and grind it along without water to a smooth paste as you would do for Uzhunnu Vada. Add 1/4 tsp of salt and if its too soft, add some rice powder and mix well using hands until you get a slightly pliable dough.
If you can get hold of "Anees" parboiled rice flour, then skip the soaking and grinding part. Mix the powder with equal quantity of warm water and then make it into a wet but not loose dough. Oil your hands and taking a little rice paste, roll into a tiny button sized oval or round pellet. Repeat till all the pidis are done.
Spread the pidis in an oiled steamer and steam the pidi in a steamer till cooked. Steam cook for 8-10 minutes until done. The pasty rice balls will harden once fully cooked. If its not getting hard, most of the time, its the fault of the rice powder.
Alternatively, boil lots of water in a shallow sauce pan and drop the pidis in batches, taking care not to overcrowd them. When they rise up to the top, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Sprinkle a little cold water and seperate them.
Wash and soak the dal for half hour. Cook the dal in 1 1/2 cups water till half cooked. Add the 2 cups second milk, and cook further. When it is almost cooked, add the pidis and sugar. Cook till the dal is fully cooked, adding more liquid only if you need it. If the kari is too dilute, add 1 teapoon of rice flour mixed into a paste with 1 tablespoon water and add to the kari. Allow it to boil well and then add the cardamom powder and a very tiny pinch of salt. Serve hot or cold.
This is my entry to the well known My Legume Love Affair hosted by Sra of When My soup Came Alive. As many of you know, this is a bean-centric event, created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook.