Aaaaaah Chai

Chai is so ubiquitous nowadays in the UK.  You’ve got chai latte, chai espresso, chai milkshakes, chai cakes, chai ice creams! It’s all a bit bonkers in my view for a simple cup of tea.

The recipe below is not to be confused with Masala Chai which has spices such as cinnamon and cloves within.  This is my cousin Hetal’s recipe for chai which we had every morning when we visited her and the rest of the family Rajkot last summer.

One thing about chai recipes. They are passed down based on the ‘implement’ used by the individual to measure. My Dad uses a tea cup as a measure. My Mum the same. My Aunt uses a specific saucepan which is marked with levels for the water then the milk. You get the drift! My cousin Hetal uses a glass about 15cm high – so I guess you’d say a tumbler. It doesn’t really matter what you use as long as the ratio of water to milk is 2:1!

Also – making tea is a pastime.  It’s a ritual. While the tea is simmering, you chat, you read, you prepare some vegetables – you do something because you’re looking at about half an hour of ‘timepass’!

And what will you drink it in? In Gujarat you will never be served tea in a cup. No. That was only for the British during the Raj.  You will have it in a glass – steaming hot. The glass will be placed on a saucer so you can pour the tea out to cool it quickly so you can drink it. My father pours his morning chai into a cup but uses the saucer to slurp it up. Rituals.

So anyway.  Here’s the ‘recipe’.

  • Milk
  • Tea leaves of your choice – when we were little this used to be PG Tips so we could collect the monkey cards inside the boxes!
  • Sugar

This recipe makes 4 -5 cups

Put one full glass of water (or two tea cups full) into a saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon loose leaf tea. Add 4- 5 teaspoon of sugar and let it boil – yes yes I know it’s a lot but this is for 4-5 people. Add half a glass of milk (or one tea cup full) and bring it back to the boil on a gentle heat.

Watch it carefully! I have been slapped many a time for letting it boil over and having to start again! Once it’s boiling, turn the heat down further and let it simmer – the longer you leave it, the stronger it will be.

Strain into a glass or tea cup and enjoy with some peace and quiet (like my Dad) or some chitter chatter like my cousin Hetal!  Whichever implement you choose there will no doubt be an aaaaah as you take your first slurp.

Copyright Urvashi Roe_dishoom-6

Rasiya Muthiya

Over the weekend I was teaching at Demuths Cookery School in Bath.  We had a lovely group of students from all walks of life.  I always start my classes with a dish that is so fundamental to Gujarati food –  Kicheree.  It was what I snacked on through my exams, sustained me throughout my pregnancy when I couldn’t tolerate richly spiced foods and is now my protein of choice after the long training runs I’m doing for the London Marathon. My problem with kicheree is that I make too much and even after freezing portions for the week there is some left! Well it matters not because there are so many ways to use it and a favourite of mine is Rasiya Muthiya.

Muthiya are basically steamed dumplings made with all kinds of different veg even beetroot greens like my last post.  Instead of steaming and stir frying lightly you can also cook them in a sauce – rather like meatballs.

 

Rasiya Muthiya

Rasiya Muthiya – my version with kicheree and a coconut sauce

 

I’ve used kicheree as my base today and no vegetables as market day is tomorrow so it’s pretty bare. Because I need any extra protein I can get I have made my sauce using coconut milk so this is a super rich and creamy version which I guess would be akin to an English ‘korma’.

Coconut Rasiya Muthiya

For the muthiya

  • 350g kicheree (or you can use day old plain boiled rice)
  • 6 tbsp chappati flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp coriander and cumin powder – dhanna jeeru
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil. I used sunflower
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • a few curry leaves
  • 1 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp chickpea flour (gram flour)
  • 2 inches ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 green chillies, cut into 1 cm chunks
  • 2 tsp coriander and cumin powder

For the garnish

  • 2-3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped or chives work nicely too
  • dessicated or freshly grated coconut
  • sunflower seeds – optional
  • juice of half a lemon
  • red chilli flakes
  1. First make the muthiya by mixing together all the ingredients and forming a dough.  I do this by mixing first the dry ingredients into the kicheree and then pouring in the wet ingredients and mushing everything in between my hands.
  2. Lightly oil your hands with some oil and then take a tablespoon of the dough mixture and roll it firmly into a ball.  You need to make it quite compact so it doesn’t fall apart during cooking.  This mixture makes about 20 balls.  Set them aside once done.
  3. To make the sauce you’ll need a pan with a lid wide enough to fit all the muthiya you’ve made on the base.  Put the oil in the pan and then heat on a gentle flame until a mustard seed starts to fizzle and pop.
  4. Once it gets to that stage add the rest of the mustard seeds, the cumin seeds and the curry leaves.  Let them fizzle and pop for a few seconds and then add the coconut milk.  Pour some water into the empty tin and then scrape the sides so all the little bits of remaining coconut are not wasted.  Pour this into the pan.  Do that last bit again.  This is your sauce.
  5. Add the chickpea flour and gently whisk the liquid using a balloon whisk until all the flour is evenly combined and there are no lumps.
  6. Turn the heat to a very low simmer and then add the rest of the ingredients.  Whisk again to combine and then place the muthiya gently into the liquid.
  7. Spoon over a little sauce on each of the muthiya and then cover the pan with the lid. Cook for 15- 20 minutes to steam the muthiya through and then squeeze over the lemon juice and serve sprinkled with some coriander and coconut.

I didn’t have any coriander handy today so I used fresh chives from my garden and for even more protein I tossed over a handful of sunflower seeds.

Biting Biting – Muthiya and Chai

There is a term we Gujaratis use often and do far too often.  It’s called ‘biting’. It means snacking, eating little Polpo-esque portions of something to tide you over to the next biting or meal. When you are visiting relatives the first question you’ll be asked will be if you’ll partake in some ‘biting biting’.  If you are going anywhere, then you must taking ‘biting biting’ with you or at least have some ‘biting biting’ before you go.

In my family biting takes the form of muthiya – little steamed dumplings of vegetables, chickpea flour and sometimes leftover rice which are eaten dipped in yoghurt or oil or stir fried to get a little crunch and burn on the skin and then eaten with chai. Patra and dhokra would be other examples of biting. Something substantial that involves just one plate.

What I love about muthiya is that you can really adapt the recipe to suit whatever is in your fridge that needs using up.  On my allotment I have a bounty of beetroot and I hate to waste their vibrant leaves so I used them in this recipe with some red cabbage.  You could also use grated carrots, marrow or courgettes, shredded spinach or chard – any hard vegetable that grates or a leaf that can be thinly chopped.

Muthiya

Muthiya – a great way of using up leftover vegetables

Beetroot Green and Cabbage Muthiya

  • Servings: 6 cereal bowls
  • Time: 60 mins
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

You’ll need

  • 250g cabbage, shredded
  • 300g beetroot greens or spinach, finely chopped
  • 250g gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 250g chappati flour
  • 2-3 tsp salt – I know it sounds a lot but the steaming process removes a lot of the salt flavour
  • 3 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • 1 inch ginger, finely crushed
  • 5 small green chillies, finely chopped
  • red chilli powder to your taste
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 3 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • chopped fresh coriander – to your taste

To make them

  1. Mix the cabbage, beetroot greens, flours, coconut, spices, ginger, chillies, lemon and salt in a large mixing bowl and then using your hands add enough warm water to form a stiff dough.  You need to be able to make small round balls that will hold their shape so add the water a little at a time.
  2. Once you have the right consistency form balls about the size of a golf ball.  My mother makes sausages but I find that the balls are easier to fit in the steamer I have.
  3. Steam the balls for 30 minutes and then leave them to cool completely.  You can eat them as they are dipped in a little oil or with plain yoghurt or follow the next steps to stir fry them.
  4. Chop the dumplings in half and pop them into a bowl.
  5. Heat the oil in a wok and add the sesame seeds and curry leaves.  When they start to fizzle, add the chopped dumplings and toss together so they are all evenly coated.  It’s ok if they stick a little and get crispy.
  6. Add the fresh coriander and serve with plain yoghurt or a cup of chai.

What kind of ‘biting biting’ do you have in your family?