Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kudumulu - a steamed snack full of healthy vegetables

When I got married into a Telugu family and started tasting delicious yet unfamiliar dishes, my thought was like, "Aha, I am going to conquer all of these recipes and make them my own" which I have done to a large extent. But the reality of it is, the Telugu food I have been exposed to represents just one facet of Andhra Pradesh only as is my Karnataka food familiarity. There is so much regional variances and some recipes being very local, you won't even hear about them unless you visit the place. So now I am more cautious when I say I cook Kannadiga and Telugu food, it is more like I cook the food from parts of Karnataka/Andhra. There is so much more to taste, enjoy, learn & blog about :-).
Visiting far away places has become so easy with our virtual tours now. I can search for any recipe and will find atleast a few hits on it on the internet. But then, how do you filter the good ones over the 'ok' ones? I usually let my gut feel guide (I do have a pretty decent gut feel :-))which recipes to go after. I came across this recipe in one of the Telugu food channel program, apparently it is a a popular dish in the Telengana region so amma has no idea and BH had never tasted it (until I made it at home). What attracted me to the recipe was that it seemed like one of those rustic dishes from the villages of India. I am a sucker for simplicity, and the rawness of old recipes. While it sounded promising, I have to honestly admit that I was a little hesitant  to make it as I wasn't convinced that steamed rice flour could result in something delicious. For me, idlis have a coarse & soft texture, I love them with either coarsely ground rice or rice rava. This recipe sounded and looked like idli (with no lentils) and I was not convinced about it the first time I heard of it.
But something with the addition of vegetables and the promise of no soak, no grind yummyness held me back from dismissing it totally. After a couple of weeks of actually churning it over in my head, I decided to give it a try as I was anyway looking for new BF or snack items. Didn't want the family to suffer or grumble if the experiment resulted in a disaster, so put it on my weekend brunch menu. With a safe bet of known khichdi as the main item, I was more than willing to take the risk if the kudumulu didn't make the taste test :-). But here is what happened, we ended up eating the kudumulu instead of the khichdi all the way. The spicy ridge gourd peel chutney on the side enhanced the experience and by end of the meal, I was left with a pot of khichdi and an empty bowl of kudumulu. With such a high rating of approval, I had to sit down and blog about it before I lost the recipe.

This may be a traditional recipe that some of you have grown up eating, for me it is new but will stay on the repertoire. It tastes good even when cold making it an ideal prep ahead breakfast item for a busy week day. I added the rice rava to the recipe since I wasn't convinced about the rice flour alone, the original recipe didn't have it and you can totally skip it. I may not even add it the next time I make this. It is not a soft idli but is very flavorful with the cooked broad beans. The texture is very much like the steamed modaka made on the Ganesha habba, a little soft and transparent but the taste is very different with the added vegetables and the fenugreek leaves. The original recipe on the TV show had the lady add chopped mint leaves but I replaced it with my favorite fenugreek leaves.
Indian broad beans are generally a winter vegetable and I get them regularly as we all love gojju or a simple stir fry with it. With a subtle flavor, this vegetable can make a simple recipe go a long way in the taste arena. These are called chapparada avare kaayi (since they grown on vines which are usually supported by a structure called 'chappara' in Kannada) or chikkudu kaaya in Telugu. These are not the papdi lilva I talk about here, here & here though they belong to the same general category.

What do you need to make Kudumulu? 
1.5 cups rice flour
1.5 Tbsp rice rava
3-4 green chilies (adjust to taste)
1 inch piece ginger
1.5 cup boiled broadbeans pieces
1 cup finely chopped fenugreek leaves
1 cup finely chopped spring onion
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
3/4 - 1 cup hot water
How do you make Kudumulu? 
  • String the broad beans (chikudukaaya/chapparadavare), separate ripe beans and chop the skin into small pieces. 
  • Steam or boil the chopped beans & a pinch of salt in 1/2 cup of water until they turn soft.
  • Make a coarse paste of green chilies & ginger. 
  • Take rice flour & rava in a bowl, add all the ingredients except for water and mix them well. 
  • Taste and adjust salt or green chilies. 
  • Add hot water slowly and using a spoon bring it together into a soft dough. 
  • Grease the idli plates, take lemon sized balls, flatten them slightly and place them in the grooves of idli plates. 
  • Steam for about 10 minutes or until a tooth pick pushed in the center comes out clean. 
  • Switch off, let stand for 5 minutes before removing them from the plates. 
  • Serve hot with a drop of ghee and a spicy chutney on the side. 
Notes: 
  • Choose broad beans that are mature (but not dry or stringy) for this recipe, more plump beans make it tastier. 
  • You can use chopped cilantro or fresh mint leaves in place of fenugreek leaves for a flavor change. 
  • Spring onions add a crunch and subtle flavor, do not use regular onions - they don't taste as good steamed. 
  • Use the water from boiling the beans as this will be rich in flavor.