Ask Amma

Posts Tagged ‘ferment’

Black Gram Matters

In Recipes, When on 1 September 2015 at 2:04 am

Since when are idlis white?

Not more than a few generations.    And if you look at all things that have become white over the past century, one by one they are regaining their color.   White bread, white pasta, white flour, white sugar, white rice are now recognized as more or less empty calories and are being replaced by their whole counterparts, on the brown to black side of the color spectrum.  It is time for idlis to do the same.

Soaked Urad - bursting out of its skin!

Black Gram (Urad): Soaked and ready to burst out of its skin!  Urad or Black Gram attracts wild yeast from the air.  As it ferments, the yeast makes the batter rise.

What are idlis made of?  Black gram and rice.   Or black gram and millets. Read the rest of this entry »

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Amaranth Dosa and Waffle

In Recipes on 2 August 2015 at 10:53 pm
See the bubbles that have formed as the dough ferments.

See the bubbles that have formed as the dough ferments.

Look at that bubbly batter!  I was thrilled when I opened the oven this morning to check whether my dough had risen and indeed it did!  Marvellously.  It was my first time soaking, grinding and fermenting amaranth and to be on the safe side I used equal parts of amaranth, rice and urad dal to make batter for idli and dosa.

Use equal parts of rice, urad dal and amaranth.

Use equal parts of rice, urad dal and amaranth.

The recipe is quite simple. Read the rest of this entry »

Proso Millet Idlis (and Dosas)

In Recipes on 6 July 2015 at 6:23 pm

My friend Hema in New Jersey asked me, how can I use local grains in the United States?   While there are several wonderful cookbooks featuring such American staples as buckwheat, barley, rye it is not as easy to find recipes using millet and many recipes using these traditional yet less common grains call for even more specialized ingredients.  Of course it is well worth the effort, but what if you want to make something simple with millet right now?

Proso Millet Idli

Proso Millet Idli

One way to jump right into using locally grown millets is to make idlis with them.  Black gram, water and salt are the only other ingredients you need.  Read the rest of this entry »

Swanky Little Millet Idli & Dosa

In Recipes on 1 March 2015 at 1:28 pm

Well well well, aren’t we getting adventurous?  These Swanky Little Millet Idlis have no rice at all, not that we don’t love rice, but if you were looking for ways to eat more millets (aren’t we all?) I can’t say enough about సామలు known in English as Little Millet and in Punjabi as Swank.  Yes, Swank.  So here are the names in various languages – check if your store has them so that you can get your swank on!

sama and urad mini idlis4

Little Idlis made of Little Millet and Urad.

Hindi: Kutki, Shavan | Gujarati:  Gajro, Kuri| Kannada: Same, Save
Marathi:  Sava, Halvi, Vari | Oriya:  Suan
Punjabi: Swank | Tamil:  Samai | Telugu: Samalu

The idlis are very easy to prepare.  Note that the grey color comes from the chilka (peel) of the urad and not from the millet which is an off-white or beige color.   You can use the same batter to make dosas or uttappams. Read the rest of this entry »

Downside to whole grains?

In Yes / No on 23 August 2012 at 3:42 am
Seeing how difficult it is to move to whole grains after being used to everything white from rice to bread to semya, nan, pasta, etc, I wanted to make it easier for my children by serving whole grains from the start.  Recently a friend told me that giving brown rice cereal as first food is not as good as giving white rice cereal, because of the phytic acid issue (the brown rice contains more phytic acid than white).  Now I am confused, what should I do? 
– Mother of 4-year and 4-month old in Mysore
 
Several issues are bundled up in this question.  First food, digestion and nutrient absorption, and food preparation.  And brown rice.  Amma is ready 🙂
 
First, first food.  Obviously the “first” in question is not breastmilk, which is normally the first and only food for babies for at least the first six months of life.  Six months is not a fixed target for the entrance into solid foods.  These days when deadlines and schedules seem to hover over everything people often forget that a baby’s readiness for solid foods depends on maturity of the digestive system, and there is no benefit to introducing solids before a baby is ready for them. Read the rest of this entry »

Art of Fermentation

In Books, Recipes on 18 August 2012 at 1:55 pm
The art of fermentation : an in-depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world
As any toddler will tell you, fermented food, when made at home, gives rise to fundamental questions, like who made the first yogurt?  It also brings us in touch with our neighbours, like when we need to borrow a spoon of yogurt because somehow we forgot to make our next bowl of yougurt before finishing our last one.  It also takes us down to the microbial level, and keep our forces of friendly bacteria strong.Can anyone offer a plan for peace?  It seems that among its many other roles, Sandor Katz’ “The Art of Fermentation” may be that as well as inspiration to make new discoveries in the kitchen and on our taste buds, and reconnect with the “hand taste” that goes into food made with love.  And, because fermented food begs to be shared, it may carry us away from the grid of the cash economy.

Michael Pollan says that “Katz would have us renegotiate the terms of our relationship with the microcosmos, and The Art of Fermentation is an eloquent and practical manifesto showing us exactly how to do that…”
An idea whose time has come!   I am typing with this book in my lap, struggling between the urge to share the good news about this book with you and the urge to read more and actually try out some of these fermentations myself, just to see what happens!
    Book
Title: The art of fermentation : an in-depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world
Author:  Katz, Sandor Ellix, 1962-
Publisher, Date:  White River Junction, Vt. : Chelsea Green Pub., c2012.

Whole Idlis: smooth transition to whole & diverse grains

In Recipes on 17 February 2011 at 3:55 pm

We grew up on white bread, white rice, white idlis, white dosas, etc. We would like to switch to whole grains, especially now that our baby has started eating solid foods as well. But it is going slower than we had hoped. Any suggestions?

– parents of a 9-month old in Hyderabad
Soak 1 cup brown rice and 1.5 cups whole urad or urad dal with peel intact.  Grind and allow to rise overnight.  Steam in idli plates as usual.   Shown with avakayi and idli poDi.

Soak 1 cup brown rice and 1.5 cups whole urad or urad dal with peel intact. Grind and allow to rise overnight. Add 1/2 tsp salt to taste. Steam in idli plates as usual. Shown with avakayi and idli poDi.

Why not go for whole grain idlis? I have found these get past some pretty picky palates, including folks who eat white basmati rice daily – they too enjoy these idlis made of brown rice and unpeeled urad dal. Let me add that these are great for beginning eaters. Even before she had teeth, my daughter resisted anything that looked like “mashed food” or <gasp> “baby food.” But since in this dish, the ingredients have already been mashed up, she could enjoy the same food as the rest of us.

Next on Amma’s agenda is to diversify the idlis and dosas with even healthier grains. Lovely recipes are there at ReStore (organic produce bazaar in Chennai).

New!  Kodo Millet Idlis!

Millets are not only healthy, they are hep and happening! Have you seen Jab We Millet?

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