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..
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?
Patra is one of my all time favourite Gujarati dishes. My Baa (maternal grandmother) used to make them for breakfast when I was little using fresh colocasia leaves and her own spice mix. I was too little to really appreciate her or her patra which makes me so incredibly sad. However, I wasn’t so little that I don’t remember the wonderful smells in the kitchen and the taste of this lovingly prepared dish. Though as a child I would ladle over copious amounts of plain yoghurt to stop the stinging of chilli on my tongue.
I have used homegrown colocasia leaves in the recipe below as I was lucky enough to find a bulb in Burford Garden Centre earlier this year and successfully grow it in my allotment. You can find the leaves in most Asian grocers in packs of 10.
Gujarati Patra – Perfect for breakfast with a cup of chai
- 2 large colocasia leaves
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1.5 level tsp salt
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 2 tsp finely grated or minced ginger
- 2 tsp finely chopped green chillies
- 3 tbsp tamarind pulp
- 2 tbsp grated jaggery
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
- 4-5 curry leaves
- 1 tsp small black mustard seeds
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 heaped tbsp freshly grated coconut
- fresh coriander to garnish (optional)
To make them
- Clean both sides of the colocasia leaf using a wet cloth. Just wipe carefully down all the spines to remove any traces of dust or dirt.
- Carefully thin any thick spines being careful not to rip the leaves then set aside to dry.
- Mix the chickpea flour, salt, red chilli powder, ginger, green chillies, tamarind pulp and jaggery together with a little water to give you a smooth paste which is the consistency of peanut butter. Beat to ensure all the lumps of flour have been removed.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning to suit your palette. If it is too sour, add a little more jaggery, if too sweet add more tamarind.
- Lay both leaves out on a flat work surface and divide the paste between the two.
- Evenly coat each leaf with the paste and then roll the leaf up so you have a long cigar shape.
- Place each cigar into a steamer and steam for 10 minutes. It’s fine to cut the cigar in two if your steamer isn’t wide enough.
- Leave the cigars to cool completely otherwise you will not be able to cut them cleanly as the paste will be too moist.
- When cooled, slice them into rounds approx 1cm thick.
- Heat the oil in a wok on a medium flame. You can test if the oil is ready by adding a few mustard seeds. If they fizzle and pop then it’s ready.
- Add the curry leaves, mustard seeds and sesame seeds in quick succession. Be careful as they may spit at you.
- Carefully add the sliced steamed patra and stir fry gently until some of them start to brown and crisp on the edges. About 5 minutes.
- Stir through the coconut and if your are using it, add some freshly chopped coriander and mix well.
Serve hot with a side of plain yoghurt.
You can also buy tins of ready prepared patra in Asian grocers. If you prefer starting with those, here’s an easy recipe to prepare them.
Have you ever tried cooking with colocasia leaves? What do you use them for?