Sunday, July 5, 2015

Akki Sandige (Rice sandige) - home made and a pictorial

Hope all my friends in the US had a good 4th of July weekend and watched fireworks or did other fun activities. Happy 4th to all!
It has been a roller coaster 2 weeks since coming back from the short and exhilarating week in India. Flora has seen enough bags being packed and people travelling all around her, I am sure she is hoping it ends soon and things return to normal. She doesn't know there is a new normal awaiting to happen once our little girl and her big sister goes off to college in 2 months, and this is a trial period for what is coming :-(. We finished the graduation, grandparents left for India after 5 months of stay which jerked us to reality a little and then the next day, DD was travelling on her first 'by herself' India trip without parents. She has been dreaming of this for a while now and we didn't have the heart to stop her. So she packed her bags and was on the flight before we even settled down to the home without the grandparents. The nest seems so quiet and still without her chirping all over, I miss the grunts, whines, complaints, fights and most of all the hugs :-). It has been a little over 10 days and we are already counting the days to her return.
We knew as every parent inherently does that the baby will grow up and will have to find her own way in this world. Ever since she started high school 4 years ago, I have thought about this almost every moment with a tinge of dread but mostly pride at how she has been growing up. But no preparation is enough in these matters of heart. It is not easy to hold back the tears when she calls and says, "Amma, we went to eat this thali meal today and I thought you would have enjoyed all the powders and pickles they put out as part of the meal" but I am happy that the child is thoughtful and the gesture makes me all warm inside. I can tell she is having a good time in India, I am proud of her enthusiasm, courage to go on this trip but we also see the vulnerable little girl as she ends every call with, "Love you guys, miss you too".
With DD out, the long weekend did look really long and threatening to begin with. It is also made by the reality that we have never had a vacation for the last 17 years which DD has not been a part of. We had no plans and with the jet lag worn off, it wasn't like we would sleep the entire weekend either. Didn't feel ready to entertain and when we called up a few places, everything was already booked and not a decent hotel was available. So we resigned to stay home and thought of finishing up the errands that always get piled up on the list but we never get to :-). Good plan but then life has a way of playing tricks on the best laid plans right? First it was the sun, did I tell you he has been shining way too much and too bright & hot that is unusual for this part of the world? It has already gone way above the tolerance limits of most locals here. Sky continues to look completely clear and temperatures stay put at a steady 80+F even after a week now. There is no sign of rains anywhere on the weather map. So with the unexpected extra dose of sun and hot weather, I decided to make some sandiges. Oh, I have already shown you how to make the most popular and tastiest of all sandiges here. What I have today is an equally tasty sandige variety made from rice flour. Very simple ingredients and a little bit of patience, you get to eat these home made delicacies and enjoy them over a year.
Nammamma and doddamma (my mom's older sister) are experts in making these summer condiments. Though a little labor intensive, these are fun activities for the entire family and foster bonding time. I love making them whenever I can. BH chips in too and takes care of all the set up process while I run the cooking side of the job. This dish is an inbetween for a papad (a flat, thin and wide wafer) and a sandige (more rounded, glops) and since there is a rice papad (akki happala) recipe that is different (will feature on the blog sometime), we called this as rice sandige.
With my sandige project occupying the early morning of Friday, I had a good surge of dopamine in the system and we were ready to get out and have some fun :-). Believe me when I say outdoors, fresh air and sun shine can solve most problems in life, the ones that are left behind will be solved with family, love and good food :-). While my sandiges were out drying, I had a very unexpected call from classmates I had not met in over 2 decades. The couple called up to say they were in the area and would like to visit, so we met late at night and that made a perfect ending for a day which had already started off promising.
We did go out for the rest of the weekend to some picturesque mountains, did some hiking and came back home feeling wonderful. Also watched the new Pixar movie, "Inside out" - well made movie about relocations, uprooting - sounded all so familiar to us. Pixar continues to amaze me with their animation skills with every one of their movies, I think their characters emote so much better than some of the human actors/actresses. It  all started with a simple sandige and the positive vibes continued and flowed through the weekend. Now I am ready to get back to work tomorrow. Ah, that reminds me there is a heat advisory in the area with temperatures soaring at 92F tomorrow but it should be alright :-). But I am done with sandiges for this year, rather BH has made it clear he is done. So until next year..
Here is the recipe for the delicious akki sandige, if your weather is still hot, go ahead and make them, store them away for a cooler day later in the year. We brought all the sandiges (yes, I made more than the akki sandige but a couple of recipes are already on the blog - aralu sandige, baalaka)inside today, stored them in separate boxes for each variety. With the heat wave, we are mostly eating drinking buttermilk and salads for our meals at home but since I made a quick vegetable uppittu for the visiting friends, I also fried some of the freshly dried sandiges to go with the leftover uppittu the next day. It was delicious, more than delicious! Rest of them are now stored away until the weather cools down to bearable temperatures (may be in November or December). Stay happy, stay positive, enjoy what life gives you.
What do you need to make akki sandige? 
1 cup rice flour
7 cups water
1 Tsp asafoetida
8-10 green chilies
1 Tsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp oil

Other requisites:
Bright, hot sun for atleast 30 hours (think 80F & above)
a place to dry sandiges (without intruding birds, rabbits or other curious animals :-))
clean plastic sheets or wraps to spread
2-3 Tbsp buttermilk

How do you make akki sandige? 
  • First get the place you are going to dry sandiges clean, make sure it has a continuous supply of hot sun for an entire day and half. 
  • Spread plastic sheets and secure them at ends from flying or folding off.
  • Cut green chilies into half, blend them into a paste along with cumin and keep aside.
  • In a wide bowl/pan, heat 1 cup of water with 1/2 Tsp oil, salt until it comes to a gentle boil. 
  • Take the remaining 6 cups of water in a big bowl, add rice flour to it and using your fingers, mix it well until it is a watery liquid without any lumps. 
  • Once the water starts to boil, add green chilies paste and asafoetida. 
  • Add the rice flour mixed in water slowly into the boiling water while constantly stirring the mixture. 
  • Lower heat to medium and keep stirring for about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens up. It should be pouring (between flowy and dropping). 
  • Switch off. 
  • Sprinkle spoonfulls of buttermilk all over the sheets and using a spoon, scoop out the rice mixture on to the sheet. Leave a mm gap between 2 sandiges. 
  • Once you drop the mixture on to the sheep, flatten them slightly with the back of spoon.
  • Let it dry until the edges start to fold upwards. 
  • Flip them over and let the other side dry completely before storing them in airtight containers. 
  • Once dry, the sandiges become almost half their original size. 
How to use sandiges: 
  • Once the sandiges are completely dry, heat up enough oil in a pan to deep fry them. 
  • On medium heat, check if the oil is hot enough by dropping a small piece of sandige, if it comes bubbling up to the surface immediately, you can start to fry the rest. 
  • Always fry sandiges in batches dropping only a few at a time into the pan so they have space to expand, they usually become double to 2.5 times their dried size. 
  • Enjoy as a side for any meal. 
Notes: 
  • I always remember the flour to water proportion as the # of week days - 1 cup flour to 7 cups water. It is important to start the liquid thin and let it cook to a thicker consistency. 
  • If you like the sandige plain, skip green chilies.
  • For a different flavor, use red chili flakes instead of green chilies.  
  • Stored in dry containers in moisture free, cool places, sandiges stay good for an entire year. 
  • Always take a wide pan to heat oil and enough oil to provide free space for sandiges while deep frying them. 
  • Tip of the day: Put a small amount (1/4 Tsp) of asafoetida in a plastic bag and put it in the sandige container to keep it fresh for longer.