Being from a small town, it was only after I shifted to Delhi for work, that I got introduced to other Indian communities, their cultures and cuisines; well, rather to international cuisines as well! Delhi is the melting pot of cultures and the nature of my work brought me in touch with people from different parts of the country. I was introduced to this dish by a dear friend of mine (though I had a non-vegetarian version). Her husband is a fabulous cook (lucky lady!) and he cooked a delicious Malayali (Kerela) style dinner for us which comprised of Meen Moily (a fish curry) and Lamb Stew, served with steamed rice. The dinner was sumptuous and I was besotted by the lamb stew.
My husband is not at all fond of coconut milk based gravies and though he was initially apprehensive about this dish, he enjoyed both the dishes to the core. I have adapted the vegetarian version of the stew; it is a medley of colours, tastes and textures. Cauliflower, broccoli, fresh beans, potatoes, carrots, peas…love them all!
This stew is traditionally served with a typical form of crepe called appam which is made from fermented rice. It is made in a small shallow wok. The batter is poured in the centre of the wok and then swirled around to cover the edges of the wok. So they are thicker in the centre and thinner towards the edges. I had served the stew initially on this post with set dosa and I have updated it by uploading a recipe and picture along with appam.
This is a delicately flavored stew; the addition of coconut milk mellows the flavours of whole spices and green chillies. I would label it under comfort food category. Great for summer weekend meal!
For the stew I used:
1 C Potatoes (peeled & diced) I have used baby potatoes / new potatoes
½ C Cauliflower, sliced into small florets
1 tbsp peas
½ C Beans (cut in 1 inch size)
½ C Broccoli (cut into small florets)
½ C Carrots (diced)
150 ml coconut milk (I used ready-made), add more if required
¼ – ½ C Water
10 – 12 black pepper corns
½ inch cinnamon
1 star anise
1 tbsp Garlic (sliced)
1 inch Ginger (julienned)
Salt to taste
5 green chillies
6 green cardamoms
1 medium sized onion (thinly sliced) or half a cup of thinly sliced shallots
1 to 1½ tsp coriander powder
1 – 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 sprig curry leaves (about 10-12)
Wash the vegetables well. In a pot take half a cup of water and add the aromatics i.e. black pepper corns, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, four cardamoms along with two teaspoons garlic, ginger and salt. Add potatoes and cook them till half done, add carrots and cook for two minutes. Add beans and cook further for two minutes and finally add the cauliflower, broccoli, three green chilies and peas and cook till these veggies are done along with potato. (you may need to add more water while cooking the veggies but I suggest that you begin with one fourth cup. Too much water will make the curry watery as we shall be later adding coconut milk. I usually cook the veggies in ¼ C of water to which I keep adding thin coconut milk, the amount depending on requirement but approximately three fourth cup, plus/minus)
OR you can pressure cook the veggies. (If pressure cooking, switch off the heat as soon as the pressure starts building in the cooker. This is to ensure that the vegetables do not get over cooked. The vegetables need to retain their shape and texture.)
For tempering, heat oil in a frying pan and add the 2 left over cardamoms and carefully add onions and the left over one teaspoon of garlic.
Once the onions begin to turn translucent, add curry leaves and green chilies (poke the chilies so that they do not burst in the oil).
Fry the onions till they become golden in colour. Add the coriander powder and cook till it becomes aromatic (about 10 seconds). Immediately add this tempering to the cooked vegetables along with coconut milk. Gently mix everything together.
Place the vegetables again on heat for half a minute, on medium heat. Check for seasoning and in case you like more heat in the curry, feel free to add some crushed white pepper corn or black pepper corn.
Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with Aapam or Set Dosa (recipe for both follows below)
For the Appam:
1 cup Idli Rice
1 tbsp Urad Dal, skinless (Ivory lentils)
2 tbsp thick Poha/ Chiwda (beaten rice)
¼ cup grated fresh Coconut
¼ tsp Fenugreek seeds
½ tsp Fruit Salt or ¼ tsp Baking Soda
Chilled water for grinding the rice and dal
Wash and soak the rice along with the fenugreek seeds for 4 – 5 hours.
Wash and soak the dal separately for the same time.
Half an hour before grinding, soak the washed poha.
Drain the water from rice and grind the rice to a smooth paste using chilled water, as required.
Squeeze out excess water from the poha and grind the dal, poha together with fresh coconut using chilled water to make a smooth paste.
Mix the two pastes together in a large bowl and add water little by little to make a batter that is not too thick (slightly thicker than pancake batter)
Cover the bowl and keep at a warm dry place to ferment over night or at for 8 to 10 or 10 – 12 hours (depending upon the weather conditions)
To make appams, add water to the batter, tablespoon by tablespoon to make a batter that is pouring in consistency. The care that needs to be taken is that the batter be neither thick nor thin. Thick batter won’t spread and thin batter will yield very heavy centered appams.
Add fruit salt to the batter and stir it gently.
Heat the appam pan and reduce heat. Grease the appam pan (special pan for making these pancakes) all around. I do this by greasing the pan using a tissue.
Pour a laddle full of the batter and quickly swirl it all around to coat the pan. Return to heat, cover the pan and cook on medium low heat till the edges are crisp and centre is done. (you can add a few drops of oil around the edges of the crepes)
These crepes have a heavy center (that soaks the curry…actually the traditional way of eating appams is to serve the curry over or rather inside the appam) and crisp edges. I like mine a little more crisp than usual therefore you see brown edges. But you can go as far or less depending on how you like your appam.
Yield – Makes 8 appams
For the Set Dosa you will need;
½ cup par boiled rice
½ cup basmati rice
¼ cup urad dal (white Indian lentil)
½ tsp Fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
Salt to taste
Soak the first four ingredients together for 5-6 hours or you can put them in a warmer (casserole), add hot water and let them soak covered for 2-3 hours.
Once done, grind them to a fine paste by adding water (as much as necessary)
Transfer this batter in a container (it should be half full) and let this mixture ferment for 7-8 hours if you are living in a warm climate and 10-12 hours if you are living in a cold climate
Add water to the batter and make it to pouring consistency. Also add salt
Grease a pan or griddle (tava) and add a ladle full.
Quickly spread it around and let it cooked on medium heat
You will see the colour on the top changing.
Once it gets cooked and the bottom is golden, remove it and transfer on the serving plate.
Serve hot with vegetable stew!
This amount of batter yields 8-9 dosas
Note: Ensure that your griddle is absolutely well scrubbed. Otherwise, the dosa will keep sticking to it. You can scrub it well by slightly heating it over the fire and then scrubbing it with a moist & hard scrub and detergent powder.
Note: For softer dosa, you can add half a cup of thick poha/ chiwda.
Note: I add a few drops of oil over the griddle and then using a small piece onion smear the oil all over. This technique makes the griddle non-stick!
Note: While cooking the crepes, I add a few drops of oil around the edges so that it becomes slightly crispy and this way it will come off easily.
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