Sunday, November 23, 2014

Godi Surnali(Sweet Buttermilk Dosa)


Sweet Surnali is a delicious wholesome breakfast or tea time snack that's liked by most of the GSBs. This is well relished with fresh butter or ghee. It is an essential snack traditionally prepared on the day of annual Tulsi Pooja on Utthana Dwadashi day.

My mother made those sweet ones meticulously, making the batter adding grated coconut to soaked rice and phova, grinding on the stone, allowing that to ferment and make thick dosas on the cast iron tawa on charcoal stove, drizzling ghee. Her preparation used to vary, and many a times I've seen her struggle to get the right results because those days nonstick tawas were not in vogue! Sometimes they got charred and stuck to the pan, frustrating her. Sometimes they turned out just perfect, fluffy spongy and golden brown.

According to my experience, a good surnali should have a stiff crusty golden bottom surface and spongy light upper. the appearance of hundreds of craters through which we can see the golden bottom surface is the indication that they have come out perfect! If you add jaggery to the batter before fermenting it, sometimes the surnalis ferment more, getting sour and they tend to stick to the pan. Eliminating the addition of grated coconut in the batter ensures even texture and fluffiness.

They also taste less sweet. So, my suggestion is to add jaggery after the batter gets fermented. You can powder jaggery, run that with some amount of the fermented batter in the mixer along with turmeric powder and then mix in Eno salt just before making dosas.

Surnalis better be roasted on the nonstick tawa on one side, without covering a dome lid. If you cover them with the lid, the upper surface gets spoiled with steam condensation, and you may not find as many craters as you find over those that are roasted uncovered. Also be sure not to raise the gas flame too much. Allow the pan to heat well, and then maintain it at medium heat. Also make sure that you drizzle oil or ghee only after the upper surface forms craters and gets dry.

Eat them piping hot, with fresh butter or ghee melting over them. The unmistakable aroma of caramalised jaggery and butter/ghee make them taste heavenly. You can't resist eating just one or two. They are so light! You can also prepare some upma as savoury accompaniment to surnalis for breakfast.

Ingredients:
Dosa Rice(Or any good white rice) - 2 cups
Methi(Fenugreek Seeds) - 1 Tsp
Thick Phova(Beaten Rice) - 3/4 cup
Curd - 1/3 cup(About 2 Tbsp)
Salt - To Taste
Powdered Jaggery - 1 and 1/2 cups or according to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 Tsp
Eno Salt - 1 Pkt
Water - QS
Ghee - OS for roasting dosas

Method:
Wash rice and methi seeds, soak in water at room temperature for 4 hours.
Wash thick phova and soak in beaten curd for 2 hours.
Grind soaked phova to a thick fine paste without adding water, keep aside.
Grind soaked rice with methi to a thick batter that should feel like fine Bombay rava when you take a little batter and rub that with your thumb and index finger.
Mix both the batters, add salt and beat well.
Add very little water if necessary, to make a batter of dropping consistency.
Cover and allow to ferment overnight or for 8-12 hours at room temperature.
Once the batter gets fermented, take a cup of the batter in the mixie jar, add powdered sugar and turmeric powder and run the mixer till jaggery has melted and well blended.
Then add that to the remaining batter, mix in Eno salt, beat well and make 5-6mm thick dosas by spreading a ladleful of the batter on the hot nonstick tawa.
Allow to roast on medium heat without covering.
You can see the colour at the bottom surface changing as the upper surface gets dry.
As craters form and the upper surface gets dry, drizzle a teaspoonful of ghee and allow the dosa to get golden brown at the bottom.
Remove from tawa, transfer to a platter and serve hot with fresh butter or ghee.

Note:
Traditional surnali is made with buttermilk. If you use buttermilk, add 1/2 cup of plain buttermilk instead of 1/3 cup curd and reduce the amount of water added while grinding rice and methi.

Cheppi Surnali(Savoury Buttermilk Dosa)

It's my wild guess, that the name 'Surnali' is derived from the fusion of two Konkani words, Sooru which means ferment and Poli which means rice dosa. GSBs mostly formulated this, for one can find this dosa in most of the GSB homes. This is a fluffy spongy low fat healthy dosa that tastes awesome, and the savoury type goes well with a variety of chutneys and curries.
I was not much exposed to this savoury type of dosa. My mother mostly made the sweet ones along with some wheat semolina upma. Though this resembles Mushti Dosa, another fermented dosa, this has no added urad daal in it. GSBs add grated coconut to the traditional preparation but Meena had her own formula without adding that. It turned out too good for words. One can see the texture and make out how perfect they are!

The trick to make perfect dosas:
These are roasted on the nonstick tawa on one side, without covering a dome lid. If you cover them with the lid, the upper surface gets spoiled with steam condensation, and you may not find as many craters as you find over those that are roasted uncovered. Also be sure not to raise the gas flame too much. Allow the pan to heat well, and then maintain it at medium heat. Also make sure that you drizzle oil or ghee only after the upper surface forms craters and gets dry.

I am sure, the entire family will like this dosa, especially kids, to whom you can proudly announce, "Sponge Dosa is ready"! I'd recommend any nice masala gravy dish to go with this, chicken curry, egg curry mushroom curry or greenpeas song. We ate it with simpl coconut white chutney. Drop a knob of fresh butter on them and gobble them up as the butter melts and wafts out a lovely aroma. That's by all standards, a perfect breakfast anyone can expect!



Ingredients:
Dosa Rice(Or any good white rice) - 2 cups
Methi(Fenugreek Seeds) - 1 Tsp
Thick Phova(Beaten Rice) - 3/4 cup
Curd - 1/3 cup
Salt - To Taste
Eno Salt - 1 Pkt
Water - QS
Ghee or Oil - OS for roasting dosas

Method:
Wash rice and methi seeds, soak in water at room temperature for 4 hours.
Wash thick phova and soak in beaten curd for 2 hours.
Grind soaked phova to a thick fine paste without adding water, keep aside.
Grind soaked rice with methi to a thick batter that should feel like fine Bombay rava when you take a little batter and rub that with your thumb and index finger.
Mix both the batters, add salt and beat well.
Add very little water if necessary, to make a batter of dropping consistency.
Cover and allow to ferment overnight or for 8-12 hours at room temperature.
Once the batter gets fermented, mix in Eno salt, beat well and make 5-6mm thick dosas by spreading a ladleful of the batter on the hot nonstick tawa.
Allow to roast on medium heat without covering.
As craters form and the upper surface loses gloss, drizzle a teaspoonful of ghee or oil and allow the dosa to get golden brown at the bottom.
Remove from tawa, transfer to a platter and serve hot with choice of chutney or curry, preferably with a generous knob of fresh butter.

Note:
Same batter can be used for making Sweet Surnali by mixing 1 and 1/2 cups of powdered jaggery along with 1/4 Tsp Turmeric powder into the batter, just before you add Eno salt. I will be posting that separately, later.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Menasina Saaru(Hot and Sour Pepper Rasam)

Long long ago, perhaps in the early Seventies, there was a Kannada novel in my late father's collection titled 'Mundenu Raman'. I guess, the author was YNK(YN Krishnamurthy). That book had a story revolving around a small boy named Raman, his hardship in life, his dream to earn money enough to buy a book, his option to choose between the book and a blanket for his folks at home and the unexpected end. Later that story was adapted in a movie by name 'Bettada Hoovu'.

Why I mentioned about that book here is, the story had a whiff of rustic flavours, the author describing the simple meal of rice and piping hot 'Menasina Saaru' or Pepper Rasam savoured by the labour class family. That description made me drool, imagining about the hot and tangy Mensasina Saaru!

Well, years rolled and in 1979, I got job in a Bank in Chamarajanagar and I stayed in Mysore during those days. My roommate Mohan Reddy took me to a restaurant by name Indian Milk Bar on Chamaraja Double Road, where we used to have dinner after returning from Chamarajanagar by train. For Four Rupees, along with Mutton Kheema Ball Curry and rice, they served sambar, pickle, beetroot fry and also a cup of pepper rasam, or menasina Saaru.

I immediately developed a liking for it, because when I gulped small sips of that, I felt like molten lava travelling through my mouth into the stomach, burning the gastric mucosa on the way. As it reached the stomach, I felt pangs of hunger and started gobbling up heaps of rice, sambar and mutton kheema ball curry! So, there I was, tasting Menasina Saaru for the first time in my life.

When I landed Bangalore in 1980, my brother Radhakanth who was studying MBBS there suggested Hotel RR, a newly opened Andhra style restaurant in Gandhinagar. He said, the meals served on plantain leaf had a variety of unlimited curries, chutneys and side dishes which was worth trying. I went there and had my lunch. The very first thing they served apart from cold drinking water was a small cup of piping hot pepper rasam. My brother said, it is appetiser traditionally served in Andhra Restaurants, and has to be consumed before having food. Then on, I was a fan of Andhra food. My regular hangouts were mostly RR and Annapoorna in Gandhinagar. During every visit, I used to ask for extra serving of that addictive soup. Later, Meena used to make it whenever I was down with cold and fever. It acted like Pepper Kashaaya and clear my sinuses.

I have also tasted this soup in Blue Star Bar and Restaurant in Shivamogga, where they served complimentary cups of this after consuming drinks.

Menasina saaru is our challenge to the ever favourite Hot and Sour Soup in Chinese cuisine, as per my experience. South Indians are known for making spicy dishes and rasams, but this one is ultimate. Better than mixing into steamed rice like Raman in the storybook did, I prefer to sip it as it is, slowly but definitely a tall glassful!

Make this at home in cold winter or when it drizzles outside in rainy season. It keeps you warm, clears your throat and sinuses, and of course increases your appetite. The peppery, tangy garlicky taste and flavour linger on for a long time in your mouth.

Ingredients:
Ghee - 2 Tsp
Mustard Seeds
Cumin Seeds - 1 Tsp
Curry Leaves
Red Long Chillies - 6-8 broken into pieces
Garlic - 10-12 flakes crushed
Crushed Peppercorns - 4-6 Tsp(As per taste)
Cumin Powder - 1 Tsp
Turmeric Powder(Optional) - 1/4 Tsp
Powdered Jaggery(Optional) - 1 Tsp
Salt
Tomatoes - 2 Medium chopped
Tamarind - 2 Tsp thick pulp
Cooked Daal(Lentil) Water - 2 Ltr
Coriander Leaves - A handful chopped

Method:

Heat ghee and roast mustard seeds till they crackle.
Add cumin seeds, red chillies, curry leaves, garlic and fry.
Now add all the other ingredients, fry till the tomatoes turn mushy.
Add salt and lentil water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Serve hot garnished with chopped coriander leaves.

Kaane Fish Green Masala Fried

Kaane is a fish found in tropical backwaters. It is also called as Noguli in Konkani and Lady Fish in English. It is a delicacy in the western coast of Karnataka. Shetty Lunch Home in Kundapur popularised this fish first and then Anupama in Mangalore and Coast To Coast in Bangalore went full swing with Kaane delicacies like Masala Fried, Naked Fried and Rava Fried.
We have been experimenting with chutney fish and green masala fish. Yesterday, our good neighbour Balkunje Vasudev Shenoy got 2 huge Kaane fish for us. Meena was clueless about what preparation she can make with it. She thought of making a spicy Kerala style curry but I stopped her and said, these huge kaanes are rare to find in the market these days. better make some exotic dish with it, preferably a strater dish with semi thick masala. Masala Fried fish has been prepared umpteen times, now that Kundapur Masala Powder is readily available. I suggested her that green masala fried would be a great idea. She went one step further and prepared a green masala that's better than what we usually make.

So here it is, the lovely spicy, tangy and aromatic Kaane Fish Green Masala Fried to tickle your taste buds. Trust me. It is simple out of this world! Enjoy this with your family.
Ingredients:
Kaane Fish - 1 Kg
Grated Coconut - 3 Tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 Tsp
Black Peppercorns - 2 Tsp
Green Tomatoes - 2 medium Chopped
Capsicum - 1/2 small chopped
Green Chillies - 4-6 chopped
Garlic - 10 flakes peeled
Ginger - 2" piece peeled and chopped
Onion - 1 big cubed
Coriander leaves - 50 Gms
Mint Leaves - A handful
Curry Leaves - A handful
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Salt - To taste
Coconut Oil - 30-50 Ml(According to need)
Lemon Wedges - For garnishing 

Method:
Clean, wash and put gashes on kaane fish. Apply salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder.
Marinate for 30 mins to 1 hr in the fridge.
Grind all the remaining except salt, oil and lemon wedges to a fine paste.
Reserve the water used to wash the grinder/mixie.
Heat oil in a thick bottomed nonstick pan.
Fry the masala paste till raw smell diappears.

Add 1/4 Tsp turmeric powder and salt to taste and fry further till oil leaves the sides and masala turns slightly golden brown.
Now add the water obtained from the grinder and fry.
Spread the masala evenly in the pan.
Place the marinated fish, coat the masala over them and pour the marinade over it.
Cover and cook on slow heat for 5 mins.
Sprinkle little water, shake the pan to loosen the fish and flip them over.
Cover and cook for another 3 mins.
Open the lid and sprinkle little water.
Raise the flame and allow the fish to sizzle for 2 more mins and switch off the flame.
Arrange the fish on a serving platter, garnish with salad of your choice and serve hot with lemon wedges.

Note:
Same masala can be used with any white fish.
You can also reduce the amount of spices and make Paneer/Mushroom/Egg green masala fried.
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