Shital's-Kitchen: March 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013


Idlis are steamed cakes made of rice and lentils; one of the breakfast specialty of Southern India.

Being brought up in Mumbai, these steamed cakes can be eaten during for breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner :)

Earlier I have explained an easy way of preparing and fermenting Idli and Dosa batter. Now I have it with pictures! :)

Traditionally idli batter is made by soaking rice and lentils separately and grinding them on a grinding stone till it becomes a smooth paste and then fermenting the batter.

It is surely a long process and difficult to grind whole grain rice. So instead of using rice, I use rice flour :)

Soak  1 cup urad dal/ split white lentil in 2 cup water for 5-6 hours.

Soak 3 cups of rice flour in 3 1/4 cup water whisking well to avoid lumps and make a smooth paste. 

Cover and set is aside for 4-5 hours.

Discard excess water and grind soaked lentils in a blender or a food processor.

Add soaked rice flour paste to blend them well. It is okay if you cannot add the entire rice flour batter in your blender. Blend together whatever you can. Hand mix rest of it in a bowl.

Mix well for 4-5 minutes. Cover and set it aside in a warm place to ferment for 6-8 hours. Use a large bowl so that your fermented batter does not overflow.

The batter I made did ferment and overflew :( Luckily I had a big plate underneath the bowl and I could dump the overflown batter back into the bowl :) You could see the air pockets when fermented.

Add salt and mix well. I do not add any other rising agent like Soda bi carb.
Refrigerate or freeze extra batter and it is good for a busy week.

Grease idli mold/ idli plate with a drop of oil.

Add a spoonful of batter. Do not fill it completely.

I have an idli stand with 4 plates to make 16 idlis at a time.

Insert the idli stand when the water in the container starts to steam. 
These cakes are cooked over a steam bath. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes.

Gently open the lid and remove the stand. Let the idlis rest for 2 minutes.
Use the tip of a knife or a spoon and scoop out idlis carefully.

Serve over plantain leaf with coconut chutney or powder chutney with spicy rasam or sambhar :)

Use the same batter to make Uttapam (pancake) or Dosa (Crepes)
 My first ever Cooking Workshop at The Harker faculty retreat. It was so much fun to talk and demonstrate about Indian cooking to my colleagues. The participants could then get their hands on making some plain and masala Dosas.

I also demoed a cone dosa/cap dosa :)


 Mini Idlis Pan fried with spices.

Plan to make your batter soon!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pudina Kulcha/Minty Flatbread

Kulchas are flat bread usually baked in Tandoor which is a clay oven. Stuffed with filling or plain, Kulchas have always been my favorite!

Just tried making whole wheat flour kulcha flavored with garlic and mint. Believe me it was amazing. Luckily I took pictures at every stage of making them, so now I can share this with you.

These Kulchas do not need any accompaniment. They taste delicious as is or with yogurt and pickle :)

Mix 1 tbsp yeast, 1 tbsp sugar and 1/2 cup warm water. Sugar will not make your kulcha/flat bread sweet, but it is required for yeast to feed on and release CO2 gas and rise.

Cover and set it aside for 5-7 minutes and you will notice CO2 bubbles or froth :)

3 cups wheat flour and salt to taste.

1/2 cup mint leaves, green chillies and 3-4 cloves garlic. Grind with 1/4 cup water.

Mix mint paste, 1 Tbsp. coarsely ground coriander seeds, yeast mixture, 2 tsp oil and around 3/4 cup warm water to make a soft dough.

Knead the dough for 5 minutes. Cover and keep it aside in a warm place.

I just left it covered for 45 minutes before making Kulchas. The dough rose and developed air pockets, You could leave it covered for longer time too.

Divide the dough into equal parts. I almost took a tennis ball size dough.

Make a smooth ball and place over flour dusted rolling board. 

Flatten the dough with your fingers. I did not use rolling pin.

Just use your finger tips pressing from inside of the circle to the edge, making in evenly pressed and round in shape. 

Roughly grind some coriander seeds. Here is my little spice mortar and pestle.

Spread some water over Kulcha. Sprinkle some crushed coriander seeds and press them in the dough.

Preheat your over to highest bake temperature. I preheated the oven to 500F temperature. You would want to cook this on high temperature quickly just like Tandoor, a clay oven. The temperature in the Tandoor is so high, that flat bread cooks in 3-4 minutes.

Place Kulchas on a baking stone in an oven.

In 3-5 minutes as you start seeing the kulcha rise. Turn your oven to broil setting to make it golden brown in color.

Keeping it in the oven for a longer time will make your kulcha crisp. 

Spread some butter or ghee (clarified butter) and serve fresh.

Use a clay griddle or a non stick griddle. 
Heat the griddle well and place the kulcha on the griddle. Cover it to develop hot air around the kulcha to rise.
Flip and cook on both side.

Serve with veggies or lentils!
Happy Cooking!!