Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rava Paddu - Tangy, spicy, soft paddus for Kids Lunch box menu event

Eat breakfast like a king
Lunch like a prince
and Dinner like a pauper
So goes the saying and there are other equally wise versions of the saying too :-). But how many of us actually follow this healthy tip? I recently heard a discussion on NPR which claimed that all research declaring a heavy & healthy breakfast being a good start of the day was not really proven. Personally, I am not a morning bee and don't feel like eating a lot until I have been active. Breakfast on the bed is a concept I cannot fathom. So for me, day starts after I have been awake for a while and active and only then can I eat something. But I do prefer something solid during lunch time, else it becomes difficult to carry on for the rest of the day with a growling stomach. Though I may rush out of the door in the morning, I always plan and prepare a lunch box for all of us the previous night.
Since it is a lunch box, it most certainly cannot be a coursed meal like you would have it at home. In my opinion (and it amounts to something since I have been carrying lunch boxes regularly for more than 2 decades), lunch box menus need to be self contained with tastes, not contain any juicy or liquidy items prone to spills, able to be eaten cold or hot, and avoid distracting smells or flavors since you typically open it in a public space :-).

Lately there has been a lot of attention around lunch box menus especially kids lunches. I don't remember nammamma working her brain cells to plan a nutritious & balanced entry to the lunch box every day for all of us kids. But we grew up in a different era when physical activity was very common place and we would digest food eaten at any time of the day, so we came back home and had a tiffin in the evening and ate a dinner at night. Over the course of the day all nutritional needs were met. Being a working mom myself, I understand it is not easy all the time to feed your kids a balanced diet and given the rushed week days, it takes some planning to put food into the child's lunch box so it comes back home empty in the evening. Over the years, we moms tend to develop an uncanny sneakiness to get the veggies, fruits and proteins in the food in many unrecognizable forms, but over the years your kid also develops the smartness to identify the disguised things and bring them back untouched :-).
One of my daughter's teachers I liked most was in her 3rd grade, the lady would sit in the class room during lunch time and make sure every kid ate the lunch box contents completely. There was no getting away with left overs from under her watch. My daughter would come home and complain that there was no difference between Mrs.N and her mom :-). I was just happy to see her eat the food. I have just been fortunate that she is not a picky eater.

My blog already has many lunch box friendly recipes (I may need to go back and tag them all appropriately, will get to it sometime) but when I was asked by the Indus ladies for a blog post specifically geared towards kids lunch box ideas, I wanted to do a new post. The first thing that came to my mind was this paddus or punukulu or ponganalu or guntupongalu. This was a rarity at home while growing up because nammamma never took fancy to these cute little things but instead liked turning left over sour dosa batter into uttappams. The first time I ever ate this was when in high school where I accidentally discovered this gem of a dish in a friend's lunch box during the usual afternoon barter. It has remained my favorite and both DD & BH love it too.
I have a multi grain, vegetable laden version of paddus on the blog here. Paddus are typically made with left over dosa or idli batter. But today's recipe is a no-grind version, perfect for lunch boxes and very versatile in that it allows you to make modifications to suit your tastes. You can mix the batter and keep it over night if you are a meticulous planner or you can mix it in the morning and come back to making the paddus after 20 minutes (go brush your teeth and take a bath), it turns out absolutely delicious. Also, this stays soft and spongy (yogurt effect) for a long time making it ideal for lunch boxes.

What do you need to make Rava paddus? 
1 cup upma rava/sooji
1/2 cup slightly sour yogurt
1/2 - 3/4 cup water
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 Tbsp thinly chopped fresh coconut (optional but recommended)
2 Tbsp oil to roast paddus
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tsp mustard
1/2 Tsp cumin
1/2 Tsp grated ginger
1 Tsp chana dal
1 Tsp finely chopped green chilies (reduce or skip if you are making it for the kids)
1 Tsp chopped curry leaves
How do you make Rava paddus?
  • Mix 1/2 cup water, yogurt and salt and whisk it briskly to make a homogeneous liquid. 
  • Take the upma rava in a bowl and add the yogurt mixture to it. 
  • Mix well to avoid any lumps. 
  • Set aside for 20-30 minutes to give rava a chance to soak.
  • Add the chopped coconut & onions. 
  • Make a seasoning of all the ingredients listed under seasoning. 
  • When mustard pops and the dal turns pink, switch off the stove.
  • Check the rava mix and adjust it to be of idli batter consistency (it should drop easily from the ladle but not flow) with additional water. 
  • Add the prepared seasoning and give a mix. 
  • Heat the paddu pan on medium heat, add a drop of oil into each of the cavities and drop the batter by spoonfuls. 
  • Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the bottom layer is golden brown. 
  • Flip them over and cook for a couple of minutes without covering. 
  • Take them out and serve it with any chutney or sauce of choice. 
  • This makes a great lunch box recipe since it tastes good when cool. 
  • You can add grated carrots or finely chopped greens to make it nutritious and colorful.
  • Methi (fenugreek) leaves roasted in a spoon of oil until they wilt and added to the batter provide a wonderful flavor. 
  • I sometimes keep the batter overnight for it to develop tanginess, season it in the morning before using. 
  • I like to add the seasoning just before making paddus to retain the crunchiness of the dal and also to maximize flavors. 
  • Instead of chopped green chilies, you can use coarsely ground black pepper.


Nandita SS said...

Paddu looks very tempting. Awesome post Nagashree :)

Priya Suresh said...

This paddu is my all time favourite, just a plate of this rava padu is enough for me to enjoy rite now for my lunch.

Kannada Cuisine said...

Nice and crispy...i would love a hardy breakfast of these beauties..

Pavai Venkat said...

Very tasty and easy to prepare Nagashree. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I tried them .. taste was good but they came out bit hard. Any idea what went wrong?

Nagashree said...

@Anonymous - I am sorry you got the hard paddus, couple of fixes I can think of - use sour yogurt, it makes it fluffier. The consistency of the batter should be such that it drops easily from the spoon.