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..
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.
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?