Friday, January 4, 2013

Ottu shavige - Dreamy white, Indian angel hair pasta with rice flour

Some memories are a full 4D IMAX experience, don't you agree? They have picture, sound, smell and taste. All I have to do is close my eyes to relive those moments. Some other memories leave you searching for details but you can't forget the impact they have had on you. Both are good and needed for a wholesome experience. Since the time I posted my Lemony rice noodles recipe here using a short cut, I have been craving to write about the real deal. What is the big deal, you may ask? It is, it was a huge deal growing up and lot of planning and preparation went into making those melt in the mouth ottu shavige(ottu~pressed, shavige~noodles).

Anna spent a year in Mangalore as part of the usual government transfers while we stayed back in Mysore for schools & other things. Anna used to visit us once a month or so and we would all be eagerly waiting for him to reach home from the bus stand. Once when he came, he had a heavy box on his shoulder and we were all dying of curiosity until he had his dinner and opened the box. He had bought a ottu shavige maker in Mangalore (I don't think it was easily available in Mysore at that time) and brought it with him on the bus and carried it home. Thus started our ottu shavige experiences. This sturdy machine dished out huge quantities of ottu shavige for many, many years until it was retired to a top shelf (to give company to many other 'not anymore used' large family utensils) quite recently.

While Anna didn't really cook on a regular basis, there were days he would enter the kitchen and make something so delicious and spoil us that we refused to eat if nammamma made the same dish equally well :-). Making Ottu shavige was like a festival, it would be on the menu if family was visiting or if there was a reason to celebrate. I have a picture of my parents in our Mysore kitchen both bent around the ottu shavige machine on the floor, nammamma feeding the steamed balls into the machine and moving the plate underneath to ensure the noodles didn't form a lump in one place while Anna kept turning the handle above to produce those thin noodles - well I don't have an actual photo, it is in my heart. Making the basic noodles is only half the job done, and there several options to serve it depending on whether you like a sweet shavige or a savory one. Nammamma usually prepared one sweet kind and one savory kind, look for serving suggestions below.

There are 2 ways of making the ottu shavige, the first one involves preparing the dough, making the noodles and then steaming them which is very popular in Tamil Nadu & Kerala and the second one is where the dough is prepared, balls steamed and then noodles made which is what nammamma does and I follow this 2nd method. If you have the press kind of murukku maker, the first one is better suited and if you are using the rotate kind of murukku maker, the second option works well. I don't have a ottu shavige maker but make do with this fantastic murukku maker I found in my Indian store, if you get the dough right and employ a strong, muscular person in the kitchen you can make this on large scale without breaking a sweat :-).

When nammamma made the ottu shavige, she prepared the rice powder at home. Rice would be washed, drained and set to dry inside in shade until the moisture is gone. Then it is fine powdered and used in Ottu Shavige or Bili Rotti. I buy the idiyappam flour from the store which works perfectly well and skip one step to make it easier. If you have the time and inclination, go ahead and make the rice powder at home, see detailed procedure at the end of this post.
What do you need to make basic Ottu Shavige? 
Serves 4 adults for a heavy breakfast, makes about 6-8 steamed balls
3 cups idiyappam flour** or home made rice powder
4 cups water
1/2 Tsp oil
**I used Nirapara brand and the proportion of water & rice powder works perfectly.

How do you make Ottu Shavige?
  • Heat water with the 1/2 Tsp oil in a big pot and bring it to boil.
  • Add the rice flour and let it cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes while the water boils over the flour and makes it all wet, do not disturb this for the 2-3 minutes. 
  • When water has bubbled over all the dry powder, take a strong wooden spoon and vigorously mix the powder in to the water to form one big mass.
  • Switch off the stove and let it stand for a few of minutes until you can comfortably handle the dough (the dough should not cool off though).
  • Keep a wide bowl of cold water ready to dip your hands in. 
  • While the dough is still warm, dip your hands in the cold water (but do not carry any extra water to the dough)and pinch off tennis ball sized dough, knead a little to make a smooth cylindrical shape, arrange them in a pressure cooker or steamer vessel. 
  • When all the dough is made into balls, steam it in the pressure cooker or steamer for 15 minutes - Do not use the pressure cooker weight, this is similar to making idlis. 
  • Switch off the stove, get your murukku press ready and wet the inside walls of the murukku press with a few drops of water. While the steamed balls are still hot, put them inside the murukku maker and press into strings of thin noodles. 
  • We like this thin and I use the smallest hole plate for the murukku maker, you can change it according to your preference. 
  • Press the shavige into a wide plate, moving the murukku maker around the plate so the strings form a sparse layer and not become lumpy. Transfer over to a big bowl by inverting the plate on top of the bowl and leave it to become cool before you season them. 
How do you serve Ottu Shavige (some suggestions, follow your heart and taste buds)?

Savory variation 1: Lemon Shavige
Heat 2 Tblsp of oil, add 1/4 Tsp asafoetida, 1 Tsp mustard, 1 Tblsp chana dal, 1 Tsp urad dal, 2 Tblsp peanuts, a few curry leaves, 1/4 Tsp turmeric, 2-3 chopped green chilies. Roast them until the dals and peanuts are crisp. Pour it over the ottu shavige, add salt to taste, lemon juice, 2 Tblsp grated coconut and mix gently breaking the long strands ever so softly. 
Savory variation 2: Hasi chutney shavige
See procedure here

Savory variation 3: Chutney pudi shavige
Take a bowlful of the white noodles, add a couple of spoons of home made chutney pudi, 1/2 Tsp oil and a pinch of salt to taste. Mix  it in gently and enjoy.

Sweet variation 1: With Gasagase payasa
Serve the rice noodles with a bowl of warm gasagase payasa. Pour the payasa on top of the noodles, mix gently and slurp it in. 
Sweet variation 2: Ellu-bella
Roast 2 Tblsp of white sesame seeds for 2 minutes. Powder them in a dry grinder, add 2 Tblsp of grated jaggery, a pinch of cardamom powder, 1 Tblsp grated coconut and mix it all with fingers. Add this to the white noodles and enjoy the flavorful sweet shavige.

Others: In Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu, the white noodles are typically served with stew.

Procedure for making rice flour at home for ottu shavige:
  • Wash 2 cups of rice in 2-3 changes of water and drain the water. 
  • Spread a thin cotton cloth inside the room and spread the washed rice on top of it. 
  • Let the moisture go away by drying it in shade for a couple of hours. The rice should feel dry & brittle to touch.
  • Make a powder of this dried rice and sieve it get a very fine powder, take the residue back and run it in your blender. Repeat until all the flour is superfine. 
  • Store it in air tight containers for use in ottu shavige or rotti etc. 
  • 2 cups of rice yield about 2+1/4 cups of the powder.
  • There is a very huge difference in taste and texture between the store bought rice noodles and the home made ones and it is definitely worth the effort. 
  • If you are using store bought idiyappam flour, follow the rice to water proportion on the package. 
  • Do not let the dough become cool before making balls or before pressing them into noodles. This will render shavige hard and also make it very difficult to run the murukku maker. 
  • I don't put salt while making the dough as we usually eat it both sweet & savory, mixing salt later works as well. 
  • As you can see, this is a 2-people task atleast until you get comfortable with it. So make sure you ask for help in the kitchen.


Kannada Cuisine said...

My bucket list topper! I love this combo. In fact this is one of the few things that I craved during my pregnancy :)

Jay said...

awesome recipe
Tasty Appetite

Priya said...

Indian angel hair pasta,wat a lovely name. I love lemon flavoured one anytime.

Priya said...

Indian angel hair pasta,wat a lovely name. I love lemon flavoured one anytime.

prathibha Garre said...

Love otthu shavige very much...I hv mine in d drafts too,need 2 post sometime

NamsVeni Pothas said...

Ottu Shavige very hard preparation and tasty dish with a lemon flavore!! i love it. really i wonder how your parents were preparing this dificult one. Hats Off!!

LG said...

I am drooling buckets here!!! I love ottu shavige :)

Turmeric n Spice said...

The first time I tasted o shavige was after my wedding, I just love it !! Love making it, I use rice flour ( store bought) and it works pretty well ! Lovely post lve reading about you family, do u still have the old shavige maker - family harloom :))

Turmeric n Spice said...

Great post

Nagashree said...

Turmeric n Spice - Thanks for stopping by. I am sure regular rice flour works though I have not tried. And no, the shavige varalu is pretty heavy for me to carry it all the way here :-), may be some day..

sashi said...

As kids it was an exciting time when shavige was prepared at home. We would take turns to use the press and compete to see who would do it the fastest. With an extended family of more than 30, it was a day long process and the festivity was no less than a festival. Food is one of the few things that brings people together.

Nagashree said...

I agree Sashi, food is the best way of connecting, and building memories for life.

Shruti Hassan said...

wow but a lovely dishes!!!