Sunday, December 7, 2014

(Akki) Rave rotti - deliciousness is just a few ingredients away

The humble Akki rotti from Karnataka, called Thalipeeth in Maharashtra has gained popularity due to its deliciousness and versatility. Some like it thin and crunchy while others prefer it thick and crispy. You can make akki rotti with different vegetables (grated carrots, radish, chopped dill, cooked avarekalu), go fancy with it or make a bare bones, no frills but extremely delicious akki rotti like my parents make. Ask any kannadiga for their favorite comfort food, I can bet akki rotti would top the list.
Yesterday, we were at a dinner party hosted by a friend and DD decided to make a dessert herself and take it, it was a sweet potato & marshmallow bake and the kids loved it. So a friend asked me if I was training her, to which I said 'No'. The more I think of it, nammamma never 'trained' me either but there was so much cooking and eating in her kitchen, I kind of naturally grew interested in it. I see the daughter doesn't have the same enthusiasm as me when it comes to cooking but some of her experiments are an indication that she can cook to get her out of starvation if a situation arises anytime. And given her impeccable taste to differentiate good food from the bad, I am sure she will cook something good :-). I think that is more than good enough for a starter.

When we were kids, kitchen was mostly nammamma's kingdom. Though we all rushed in and out at various times, gobbling food of all sorts, amma would be the one mostly toiling in there ensuring the never ending supply of food. My father was a foodie (Hmm, apples don't fall too far from the tree :-)), he enjoyed good food and was a good cook himself. But anna's cooking was limited to those rare occasions when amma was out or sick and he had to feed us, the hungry kids. We as kids (atleast I am sure I did) waited for those nights when anna would be in the kitchen instead of amma because he wouldn't make the regular fare of rice, saaru/huli etc instead it would be a treat to have his thick, crispy and light as feather akki rottis. Anna also made a majjige huli to die for, the not too thick, not too thin, creamy consistency of the majjige huli in sour yogurt made us feel at home in an 'amma-missing' kitchen.
But what I loved most and I know all my siblings will nod their heads in unison was his akki rotti. He would mix the dough enough for just 2 (huge) rottis instead of making multiple smaller ones and waste the time in the kitchen. The dough would be mixed with just rice flour, cumin, salt, chopped green chilies and lotsa of grated fresh coconut (Yep, though neither of them owned a coconut grove, my parents used coconuts as if it grew in the backyard :-)). No onion, no other fancy stuff. He would mix the dough, divide into 2 big balls, use the huge aeroplane pan(called thus because it is made from a metal used to make aircraft bodies and distributes heat evenly), pat the ball gently into a thick circle and cook it with lot of patience and love, turning the bandle (deeper & circular compared to a flat griddle) all around so the rotti would come out crisp with a golden color all over, it would be cooked just on one side, no flipping it over and when it came out it resembled a deep dish with golden spots all over the bottom surface.

Once both were done, he would divide them with mathematical precision into pieces and give it to all of us, I can't put into words how much I miss those days and the rotti. We called them biscuit (more like 'bisket' or 'biskattu' in Kannada) rotti. There is a biscuit roti popular in South Karnataka that has no relation to this, I will talk about it another day. Being an ardent fan of akki rottis, I have tried to recreate the magic in my kitchen ever since I started one but it somehow doesn't taste the same as the ones we ate as kids. BH, though never had akki rotti before marriage is a convert and loves to eat his with a cup of home made yogurt. DD loves some avakkayi mixed with yogurt to go with her akki rotti :-)
One of the things I find different with my ingredients is that Nammamma got her rice flour made to order :-), she would take the rice to the flour mill and get it ground into a powder of the right coarseness and I don't have that luxury with my store bought powders. She always says the rice flour for the rotti needs to be very slightly coarse and not a fine powder to give that crisp texture to it. So when I came home with a packet of finer than usual rice rava (it was MTR brand if you are interested), I decided to give it a try. The rice rava doesn't hold together if you mixed it with water directly as there is no gluten in it, so I ended up pre cooking it just a bit. This also makes the rotti turn out lighter. The recipe has no bearing to how anna made the rottis but just the texture of it reminded me of those days. It is an improvisation from what he made, to make up for the absence of coconut, I added a seasoning in the beginning. Also, since a deep dish skillet doesn't work on my electric coil stove, I use a flat cast iron griddle. Made small palm sized rottis just to relive a memory :-). These are very easy and quick to make, taste delicious on their own or with a spicy dip on the side. You can make this rave at home, how to is part of this post.

What do you need to make Akki Rave rotti? 
1 cup rice rava (Idli rava)
1+1/4 cup water
1/2 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 green chilies
1/2 Tsp mustard
1/2 Tsp cumin
1/8 Tsp asafoetida
4-6 finely chopped curry leaves
2 Tbsp oil - divided use

How do you make Akki Rave rotti? 
  • Heat a sauce pan on medium heat along with 1 Tbsp of oil.
  • Add mustard, cumin and let them pop.
  • Add finely chopped green chilies, curry leaves and fry for about 30 seconds. 
  • Add asafoetida, salt and water. 
  • Cover and let the water come to a gentle boil. 
  • Reduce heat to low, and in a steady stream add the rice rava into the boiling water while stirring with a spatula to avoid lumps. 
  • Cover and let cook on low heat for 2 minutes. Switch off and let stand for 2-3 minutes until cool enough to handle. 
  • Take a plastic sheet or aluminium foil, sprinkle a few drops of water and spread it evenly on the surface. 
  • Take an apple sized dough on to the sheet, dip your palms in cold water and knead it into a smooth dough (about 30 secs)
  • Keep your griddle to heat on medium heat. 
  • Pinch off balls of the desired size from the kneaded dough and pat them into a flat disc of about 1/2mm thick. 
  • Transfer one or more of these flattened discs onto the hot griddle leaving an inch or so of space in between to easily flip them over. 
  • Add drops of oil on the surface and cook them for a minute and half or until the bottom layer turns light brown. 
  • Flip over and cook until both surfaces get the desired color and crispness. 
  • Serve it with a dab of ghee (clarified butter)
  • Fresh rava made at home tastes best (then, you knew I say that everytime :-)), if not realistic, use the idli rava from the store. 
  • You can add chopped cilantro instead of curry leaves. 
  • I would keep this recipe saatvik with no onions because it reminds me of my anna's biskattu rotti. 
  • Keep the dough covered to prevent it from drying as you are working in batches. 
  • Some varieties of rice rava may need little lesser or more water, when you are done cooking, you should have a moist dough that comes together. Adjust with a few sprinkles of water or a spoon of rava as needed. 


sashi said...

Nagashree, try with Uppitu rave too. same process

Sangeetha Nambi said...

Love it !

NamsVeni Pothas said...

Akki Roti is my favorite too. thanks for the wonderful recipe.