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 – 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?
It’s Sharad Poonam (Full Moon). Look up right now and you’ll see nothing but an overcast sky but on Friday morning when we woke up my girls and I marvelled for a few minutes at the moon. It was like a huge golf ball in the sky shining so brightly in the crisp blue sky before the sun warmed up and shone it away.
Looking up at the moon in winter is a little custom for me and my girls when we wake up. We used to have a little song they still sing to their dollies now.
“Good morning Mister Sunshine. How did you wake so soon? You scared the little stars away and shined away the moon”
The moon also always reminds me of dahi vadas. It’s a random memory but when she was much smaller, my youngest daughter once called them ‘moon bhajias’ because they looked just like the moon. I suppose I see her logic. They are plump and round dumplings made with urad dhal and once smothered in yoghurt they do look a little moon like.
Full moon or no full moon, they are simple to make. Cooling in summer as a dish on their own and perfect in winter for accompanying heavily spiced or ‘garam’ foods to bring cooling balance to the body.
I’ve used cup measures here because it’s easier to remember the proportions of one cup urad dhal to three cups of yoghurt. The spice measures are also a guide.You should use more or less depending on your own palette.
Dahi Vada – Deep fried, moon shaped dumplings made from urad dhal, slathered in yoghurt and spices
- 1 cup urad dhal – white or split black urad dhal
- ½ inch piece of ginger
- 2 green chillies – optional
- ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda
- sunflower oil for deep-frying
- 3 cups plain yoghurt
- Salt to taste
- Handful chopped coriander
- 2-3 tsp garam masala
- 2-3 tsp red chilli flakes
To make them
- Soak the urad dhal in water for overnight or for a minimum of 3-4 hours
- Wash and drain the urad dal.
- Fill a wok halfway with the sunflower oil and set to heat on a slow to medium flame.
- Prepare a large platter with kitchen paper to drain off your vadas once fried.
- Prepare a large bowl of water for your vadas to soak in.
- Put the urad dhal, ginger and green chillies into a blender and grind to a smooth paste.
- Add the the bicarbonate of soda and salt to your taste and mix well till the batter is light and fluffy. It should be a thick puree the consistency of shop bought hummus. Add a little water if needed.
- Take two spoons and scoop some batter into one. Using the other spoon make a quenelle or ball shape – this is your vada.
- Deep fry in hot oil on a slow flame till the vadas are golden brown, for about 10 minutes.
- Drain on the prepared platter of kitchen paper.
- Once all your vadas are fried, pop them into the bowl of water to soak for about half an hour.
- while they are soaking, prepare the yoghurt by whisking it together with some salt to your taste.
- Take your vadas out of the water and squeeze them so most of the water is out.
- Place a layer of yoghurt on your serving platter and then place all your vadas on top.
- Ladle over the rest of the yoghurt and then sprinkle over the shopped fresh coriander, garam masala and chilli flakes.
Do you have any recipes that remind you of the moon?