When I was pregnant with my first daughter, there was one food that I craved above everything else. Kichee. It makes no sense as to why I was craving this. It’s simply a rice flour dumpling flavoured with cumin, black pepper and green chillies. I think it was the sticky, comforting consistency that gave me so much satisfaction.
It’s not something I could make for myself at the time because the smell of green chillies would send me into a long coughing fit and give me nausea. My Aunt Sushila would see my car pull into my mother’s driveway and within 30 minutes she’d bring over a plate of steaming hot kichee for me. Handy having her live just across the road!
It’s been a favourite ever since and I’ve never really experimented with the recipe until now. I’m finding that black peppercorns aren’t settling well with me at the moment so I’ve been making kichee with just the green chillies and cumin. But last week I picked a very large bunch of wild garlic. There is a place I fell upon by chance which seems to have remained hidden from other foragers and I got a little carried away with my picking. It works very well chopped into dhal but as I had an inkling for kichee yesterday I thought I’d try it out with that too. It worked a treat! There is a very nice, subtle wild garlic flavour but it’s the colour that most impressed me. The dough was a vibrant green which wasn’t impacted by the steaming process.
The recipe is incredibly simple so these are a wonderful item in your Biting Biting repertoire.
Wild Garlic Kichee
- 50g wild garlic leaves plus flowers for decoration
- 3 small green chillies – mine were about 2 inches long
- 2 cups/480ml water
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1.5/2 tsp salt to your taste
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 cup/160g rice flour – must be the fine flour and not ground rice
- red chilli flakes to garnish
- olive oil for dipping
This recipe makes about 16
- First pound the green chillies and wild garlic leaves in a pestle and mortar and you get a nice paste with no lumps.
- Bring a pan of water to come to the boil. You need a pan which has room for the rice flour to expand so use a large one.
- Once it’s boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and then add the wild garlic and chilli paste, cumin seeds, salt and bicarbonate of soda and stir through so they are all evenly combined into the water.
- Add the rice flour and let it simply soak into the water for a few minutes. Once it’s all absorbed stir the mixture with a wooden spoon on the very low heat to bash out any lumps. You’ll now have a soft dough with a mashed potato like consistency.
- Turn the dough out onto a flat plate or chopping board and leave to cool so it’s comfortable to handle.
- Divide the dough up into 16 portions. I find the easiest way to do this is to roughly roll a sausage shape, divide it in two and then again and again til you have 16 portions.
- Take one portion and roll it into a ball. You may find it’s easier and less sticky to work with if you lightly oil or water your hands. You can knead it lightly in your hand to get rid of any more lumps.
- Once you have a ball, flatten it slightly into a disc and then pierce a hole in the middle. I do this by dipping the end of a wooden spoon in some oil and then using that to make the hole.
- Once you’ve done all the portions in this way, put them into a steamer for 15 minutes to cook. Leave them to cool slightly once cooked and then serve with some red chilli flakes and olive oil for dipping.
Biting Biting – Wild Garlic Kichee with Red Chilli Flakes and Olive Oil for Dipping
More wild garlic recipe inspiration from blogs and websites I like..
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 – a great way of using up leftover vegetables
Beetroot Green and Cabbage Muthiya
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Chop the dumplings in half and pop them into a bowl.
- 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.
- 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?
I’m very fussy about tomatoes. I love the sundried variety but not in pesto. I like the raw variety but only paired with basil and mozzarella and in a ‘cachumbar’ (salad) with sliced onions, red chilli powder and salt. But I love cooked tomatoes. Especially in curry. It’s my go to dinner when I am ravenous but don’t have the patience to wait. I usually eat this with some plain basmati rice or leftover boiled barley or kicheree.
I have used green tomatoes because I like the unusual. You could use cherry tomatoes cut in half or the different coloured heritage tomatoes that can be found at farmer’s markets nowadays. Which ever you choose, make sure they are lovely and firm so they will keep their shape when cooking.
Beautiful green tomatoes
Tomato and Onion (Shak) Curry
Green Tomato and Onion Curry
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 heaped tsp small black mustard seeds
- 1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
- 4-5 curry leaves
- 1 medium onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 250g red or green tomatoes – it doesn’t matter as long as they are firm and tomatoey! Don’t buy the cheap economy ones
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp dhana jeeru (coriander and cumin powder)
- 1-2 tsp red chilli powder – more as you wish
- 1/2 tsp amchur (dried mango powder) – optional but adds a tangy twist
- Handful fresh coriander – chopped
To make it
- Slice the onion and garlic and chop the tomatoes into nice large chunks. About 1 inch is good. Smaller will turn them to mush and you don’t want that. Set aside
- Heat the oil in a wok or large saucepan – not heavy bottomed. This is a stir fry type dish.
- When the oil is hot add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves in quick succession. To test the oil you can pop in a mustard seed. If it fizzzles and pops then it’s ready.
- The seeds will crackle and fizzle and spit up so be careful when you add the onions and garlic now.
Frying onions is one of my favourite smells
- Stir for a minute with a fork (not wooden spoon as this will absorb the spices you are going to add)
- Add the tomatoes and then the rest of the spices and stir until all the spices are well combined.
And then the spices go in and the smell gets even better
- Keep tossing the onions and tomatoes with the fork for a few more minutes to cook the dry spices out and prevent sticking. If it does stick add a little more oil or water.
- Do not overcook. you want the onions to have a little bite and the tomatoes to keep their shape.
- Pour into a serving bowl, top with the chopped coriander and eat straight away. This dish does not keep well so try not to have any leftovers!
I served these on Clearspring Quick Cook 5 Grains but you could also go with plain rice.
Green Tomato and Onion Curry – A simple and speedy supper
What is your favourite way to eat tomatoes?
More tomato inspiration here: