Thursday, August 28, 2014

Instant Maida Paattholi

Paattholi is a steamed dumpling or momo type snack made by people living in the West Coast of India. GSBs are experts in making soft paattholis with soaked rice ground to a paste with grated coconut, stuffed with coconut jaggery choorna and steamed in turmeric leaves.
The divine aroma of paattholis fill the homes especially during monsoon season when turmeric leaves are available in abundance. Traditionally, paattholis are made during festivals like Naga Panchami Gokulashtami, Gauri Tritiya and Ganesh Chaturthi.

Paattholis are also made with jack fruit but that's steamed in either Kuduchaampa(Plumeria) leaf, teak leaf or in banana leaf and that's called Ponsaa Muddo. Making such paattholis consume lot of time and labour.

We came across an instant paattholi made with Maida(Refined flour)couple of years ago, when our good neighbour Balkunje Prema Shenoy made them and gave us sample. We too tried them once or twice and they came out good. Here are instant maida paattholis for our readers. You can enjoy them with your family and unexpected guests.

"Wishing all those who celebrate, a very Happy Gauri Ganesha Festival"

For the Batter:
Coconut Milk - 3 to 4 cups
Maida(Refined Flour) - 2 cups(Adjust according to need)
Sugar(Or jaggery powder) - 2 Tsp
Salt - A pinch
Turmeric leaves - 25-30

For the Coconut Jaggery Choorna(Filling):
Jaggery powder - 1/2 cup
Grated coconut - 1 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/2 Tsp

Keep a steamer on stove and allow water to boil.
Combine maida with coconut milk adding 2 Teaspoonful sugar/jaggery powder and salt, beat well till you get a smooth paste resembling dosa batter.
Wash and wipe the turmeric leaves and spread them on the kitchen work area or dining table with shiny side up.
Apply a Tablespoonful of the maida paste on each leaf and place 2
Teaspoonful jaggery choorna over them.
Fold the leaves and place them in a colander, taking care not to spill the mixture.
Steam with full flame for 15 minutes or till done.
Serve hot with fresh ghee.

Note: These paattholis smell good only when made on turmeric leaves.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Egg Chow Mein(Fried Noodles)

I first tasted Chinese food in Bangalore, somewhere in the summer of 1977. At Seven Star Restaurant in Gandhinagar, my sister in law ordered fried rice and for me it was testing time, since I was not exposed to Chinese food. With difficulty I ate half portion of that, and was slightly averse to the smell of burnt rice, chicken, soy sauce  and vinegar.

Mangalore first saw Indo-Chinese Chinese food in the Seventies when Nanking opened in Milagres Building, Falnir Road. Then I was still in college and was not much attracted to Non-veg food. Later, Ho-Pei was started by a Chinese family that migrated from Calcutta(Kolkata), in Hotel Sujatha where they captured the taste buds of Mangaloren foodies with their Chow Mein, Fried Rice, Chilli Chicken, Garlic Chicken, Mmanchurian, Drums of Heaven, Chopsuey and soups. I too started visiting the restaurant along with my friends since the late Seventies. The very first dish I tasted there, was Chicken Chow Mein.

Chow mein is perhaps the most popular main course on any Indo-Chinese restaurant after Fried Rice. This is mostly dear to youngsters who like fast food. Today, we can see many push carts and smaller food joints making chow mein in nooks and corners of every small town and city in India. Almost all the Nonveg restaurants have Indo-Chinese food on their menu. Making Chinese food is not so difficult, if you master the art of chopping the veggies and other ingredients, know the right proportion of various sauces, understand the significance of cooking rice and noodles, instant cooling technique, and of course the art of stir-frying on high flame.

Meena was a novice to this kind of cooking initially when we got married and settled down in 1988. I made Chinese preparations according to my own ideas or ideas borrowed from friends and relatives. She gradually developed liking for this kind of burnt food and also started making different Chinese dishes. I should say, in the last 3-4 years, she has really mastered the art of cooking Chinese food. Though our gas burners can't match the high flame of hotel burners, she does make fantastic noodles, fried rice and chopsuey!

Last evening, she asked me what would I prefer to eat with the left over chilli chicken that was resting in the fridge. I prefer noodles always and she made Egg Chow Mein. Here's how she made it.

Chinese Packet Noodles(Preferably Egg Noodles) - 200Gms
Salt and Pepper
Grated Ginger - 1/2 Tsp(Optional)
Chopped Garlic - 1/2 Tsp(Optional)
Chilli Oil(She used oil used for frying chicken) - 3 Tsp
Mixed Veggies like Onion, Carrot, Cabbage, Capsicum - 2 cups cut into julienne
Onion Shoot - A handful chopped into 1 inch pieces.
Eggs - 2-3
Dark Soy Sauce - 3 Tsp
Chilli Sauce or Red Chilli Paste - 2 Tsp(Optional)
Vinegar - 2 Tsp

Boil 1 liter water in a pan, add salt and a teaspoonful of oil, break the noodles and drop them.
Stir lightly with a fork so that all the noodles loosen and cook evenlly.
Parboil them(Test one strip. It should be soft outside and hard inside but not pasty) and drain with a colander.
Wash them under running water at room temperature and drain for 10-15 minutes.
Combine the sauces/paste and vinegar in a bowl with little water.
Heat 2 Tsp oil in a wok.
Add the optional ginger garlic along with the onions and stir fry on high flame for 1 min.
Add remaining shredded veggies, salt and pepper and stir fry till crunchy but cooked.
Remove and keep aside.
Add 1 Tsp oil to the same hot wok.
Break the eggs and drop them into the wok.
Add salt and pepper and scramble the eggs.
Add the fried veggies along with the parboiled noodles.
Add salt and pepper, stir fry for 2 minutes.
Add the sauces mixture and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
Switch off the flame, transfer to serving dish, sprinkle chopped onion shoot and serve hot with choice of sauces and side dishes.

1. Add French beans chopped into julienne, par boiled green peas and chopped mushrooms instead of eggs while frying the veggies to make Veg Chow Mein.
2. Add 1 cup boneless chicken/pre-cooked pork/mutton cut into thin strips instead of eggs, fry that well and make Non-Veg Chow Mein.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Maraalva Phodi(Tree Taro Leaves Fritters)

GSBs have found exotic ways of cooking Maraalva leaves, like making Patrvadi(Pathrode) and deep fried phodis(Slices). These phodis used to be traditionally fried in Dhoopa oil which is not available so easily these days. Hence Coconut oil is widely used for frying these phodis in the Coastal parts of Karnataka and Kerala and any good refined oil is used by others.

Maraalva or Tree Taro leaves are available in the local market during rainy season. They are mainly found in tea or coffee estates on trees. Slightly thicker and brittle than the normal Colocasia leaves, these  remain green for a week if wrapped in paper or muslin cloth and preserved in a fridge. What we get in the market are as small as betel leaves sometimes. If you have contact with anyone having coffee or tea estate, you can get really big ones. Avoid using ones that have turned deep yellow, as they are not suitable. Slightly Greenish Yellow ones are alright.
Meena's friend Joyce D'Souza gets very big tree taro leaves from her husband Max D'Souza's estate in Banakal. So, Meena learned how to make these fritters a few years ago. She also learned the technique of slicing the roll after freezing it, to obtain very thin and even slices.

My mother was not very fond of these phodis, as she was a bit allergic to maraalva leaf. She made pathrode more than these fritters. Besides, availability of good leaf was a major issue. My sister in law Prabha Shenoy made them very tasty and I had a chance to eat them for a few years in the Eighties when I was staying at my brother's place. Some people around Car Street Mangalore make them well. I remember having tasted excellent maraalva podis made by my Bank colleague Suresh Bhat's mother. She made them very crisp, tangy spicy and perfect.

When I was a small boy, my mother and a few contemporaries used to roast urad daal, soak it and manually grind to a  smooth paste, add slightly coarse paste of soaked rice with red chillies, salt, asafotoeda and tamarind to it and then apply that paste on the leaves. Since last 35 years or so, we get Hoorna(Roasted Black Gram powder) and Rice powder in local mills, making our job easy.
1. Tree Taro leaves(Maraalva Paan) - 10-12
2. Hoorna(Roasted Black Gram powder) - 1/2 cup
3. Rice flour - 1 cup
4. Red chilli powder - 4-5 tsp
5. Asafotoeda - a pinch
6. Tamarind - Cherry size ball
7. Salt - Q.S.
8. Water - Q.S.
9. Coconut Oil or Refined vegetable oil - For deep frying
Make a thick solution of hing in water. 
Extract tamarind in 30ml water.
Mix all the powders and salt to taste to make a thick gummy paste, adding the asafotoeda solution and tamarind extract, adding water as required.
Check for salt.
Wash and wipe the tree taro leaves dry.
Remove stem and ribs if any, with a sharp knife.
Spread one big leaf shining side down.
Anoint the masala paste evenly in a thin layer.
Place a smaller leaf over its edge and again smear the masala paste.
Go on arranging layers to make sufficiently thick and tight roll, tucking the ends inside like a 'Patrvadi Roll'.
Keep the roll in the freezer for 6-8 hours till it hardens.
Remove from the freezer and transfer to the cutting board.
Using a very sharp slicing knife, make very thin slices of the roll.
You can arrange these slices in a fridge container, keep them for later use and they remain good for 2-3 days.
Heat oil in a thick kadai.
As soon as the oil starts fuming, reduce the heat to less than medium.
Roll each slice in rice four and deep fry 6-8 slices at a time in hot oil on controlled heat till crisp, puffy and brown.
Remove any dropping in the oil each time as you finish frying them phodis.
You can also fry some slices without coating them with rice flour to make naked fried phodis.
Rava fried ones consume less oil and naked fried ones consume more, but latter ones turn out more crisp like puff pastry.
Drain the phodis on the perforated ladle and then transfer over to absorbent paper.

Serve with rice and daal or as a tea time snack.
You can store the fried podis at room temperature in an air tight dry container and use them for almost a week.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Charmuri Upkari/Masale Mandakki/Masala Bhel

Any festival, fair or school function in Mangalore is not complete without Charmuri sellers. They have ruled the street food scenario from time immemorial. They were already there, when I opened my eyes and realised that I am also on this earth, that too in such a lovely coastal city of Mangalore!
When we Mangaloreans hear the name Charmuri Upkari, the first thing that comes to our mind is 'Sukrunde Vittal'. Sukrunde Vittal Shenoy was a legend of all times and he taught rest of the Mangaloreans how to make perfect charmuri upkari. Slim and short guy clad in khaaki shorts, khaadi kurta and a white gandhi cap, he was mostly seen in Temple Square near the Temple making and selling charmuri upkari, raw mango pachchodi and excellent quality masala peanuts for many decades. He passed away in the early years of the new Millennium. Now his son Raghuram Shenoy runs the charmuri stall in front of School Book Company in Car Street.

I remember that in mid Seventies when I attended the Pratishta Poornima festival in Mulki, we friends asked a charmuriwala to make charmuri as good as Sukrunde maam made. He said, "Sukrunde maam is our guru and no one can beat his expertise. I shall however make charmuri upkari in my own special way, which please taste and comment on!". He made fantastic charmuri, but I appreciated his respect and concern for Sukrunde maam.  Another famous personality is 'Mangli Maam' or Ananth Shenoy, the sugarcane juice and bhel vendor near St Aloysius College till the Eighties. He now sells only sugarcane juice near Mangala Stadium.

In spite of innumerable modern Chinese and North Indian fast food sellers showing up on Mangalorean streets, Charmuri Upkari stalls are always there with people swarming around to grab their packet of this spicy tangy chatpata yummy treat that doesn't satiate your hunger but makes you feel good. The tingling sensation left on the tongue is mostly washed down with a cold sugar cane juice or lime soda but I have my own choice, a cup of hot coffee following the charmuri upkari!

Yes, the counter irritant effect of hot coffee on the already sensitive tongue is simply ecstatic. Only a few contemporaries know the real pleasure within this combo!

Charmuri upkari is very simple to make. It needs some common ingredients that are mostly present in a typical Mangalorean kitchen. My mother used to make it with chopped onions as well as with grated coconut for evening tea. The one we get on the streets is with onions. In 1971 when I was in school, we friends erected a stall near Ballalbagh circle where Gurji festival was on. We made brisk business selling charmuri like hot cakes. I was mostly making the charmuri upkari that evening, as my measurements were more or less perfect!

In summer, the street vendors make it special by adding chopped raw mango. In monsoon months or slightly colder winter months, they make it special, adding some grated carrot, namkeen mixture(Chivda) or rosted/fried peanuts. In Sirsi and Sagar I have tasted masale mandakki with green masala and added boiled potato chunks and green peas. Each region has its own style of preparing this.

Here is my formula for charmuri Upkari with chopped onions, that's made special by adding tomato masala flavoured potato wafers. I have added Haldiram's Sev Murmura that comes in 5 Rupee packets. That has its own added masala which makes the charmuri upkari slightly different than the traditional one. To make the traditional one, please use plain charmuri/mandakki/bhel. Makes your day lively on a dull rainy day.

Plain Charmuri/Mandakki/Bhel - 2 cups(or Haldiram's Rs.5/- Sev Murmura packets 4)
Choice of namkeen mixture/roasted peanuts or potato wafers - A handful
Onions - 2 medium finely chopped
Coriander leaves - A handful finely chopped
Lemon - 1/2 small squeezed
Salt - 1/2 Tsp(Adjust according to taste)
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 Tsp(Adjust according to taste)
Coconut oil - 1 Tsp(Adjust according to taste)

Mix all the ingredients except charmuri and other crispies.
Add charmuri and toss well.
For better results you can use two bowls inverted one over the other as shown in the pic and shake them well.
Serve immediately, topped with potato wafers or other crispies as garnish.


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