Ahhh, South India - the region of mouthwatering
dosas, idlis, vadas, and the lipsmacking aroma of
sambars and rasams. We bring to you an array
of the wonderful delicacies from the southern parts of
the Indian Continent.
Though the south indians do use wheat and other
grains in fair amounts, yet rice forms the staple diet
here. An unimaginable variety of dishes prepared with
great care, from rice, have in recent times, become
popular not only in all other parts of India but many
parts of the world. Though some of the delicacies are
fried, most of the items are good wholesome balanced
dishes, consisting of dal, rice, vegetables, etc. all used
in on recipe.
The people in this region, though mainly rice eaters
are not very fond of the basmati or long grain rice. The
rice used is normally ordinary short grain rice, brown
rice and parboiled rice, used for idlis, dosas and other
dishes where the rice batter has to be fermented.
Parboiled rice looks thick, slightly transparent and is
processed before selling in stores. At one time not
available elsewhere, it is nowadays available in many
towns all over India, and even in some Indian
provision stores in other countries like the US, UK,
Wherever soaking of grain is required, or fermenting
of the batter is called for, do not pinch on the hours
required. Only when the soaking and fermenting
processes are properly executed, will the end product
have the required softness, lightness and taste.
Grinding the soaked grain in a stone grinder by hand
will turn out the best end product. This method
though, has become restricted to the traditional south
indian homes these days. An electrical stone grinder
will also give excellent results. If there is not
alternative then an electrical mixer-grinder may be
used, but the result though good, may not be the
same as the former.
Since South Indian dishes required a lot of soaking,
grinding, steaming, etc., to enjoy the dishes, and yet
not be left stuck in the kitchen for hours, plan your
cooking. Do the steaming, grinding, soaking, etc.
while preparing the previous meal. Eg. if you are going
to use the pressure cooker for lunch, might as well
steam the sambar dal too!
Though lengthy the accompaniments and dishes can
be prepared more than 75%, way ahead of time, so
when you are entertaining, there is plenty of time to
spend with the guests.
Along with this week's recipes, please refer also the
weeks on 'dosas', 'chutneys', 'rices' for South Indian
recipes already covered.
The first time may not be exactly superb results, but a
little care and practice, and lots of patience will be
worth their while.