Sunday, September 13, 2015

Kodubale - gluten free snack from nammamma's kitchen

It has already been 2 weeks since we came back and DD is well into her classes and getting busier by the day. Thanks to all of you who wrote back just to cheer me up last week from my 'missing DD' mood, it means a lot. We have kept ourselves busy and Flora has helped quite a bit with her antics too. On one of her early morning outing last week, she got bitten by something (we still do not know if it was a raccoon she fought or just an anthill she inadvertently put her face in). We have searched high & low in the backyard and there are no traces to confirm our theories either way. She came inside with a bloody lip, teary eyes, swollen and a very sad face. That being a Saturday morning, she kept sticking to one of us for 2 hours before we took her to the vet. After a couple of shots to kill infections and bring inflammation down and loads of TLC, she is now back to normal - being her stupid and lovable self. It was a distraction for both of us as we got busy looking after Flora and reporting her recovery to the little girl :-)
BH & I recently went to a small town in the deep South as we were looking for things to do while DD was getting settled in her college. It was a historical tour of the town which considers itself to be the home of the forever classic 'Gone With The Wind' :-). If you like a well written fiction based on real events and have not read this, please, please read it, I am sure you will enjoy it. Based in the civil war era and American reconstruction, this epic sage of love, loss and war has been one of my all time favorite novels. I devoured this book first time when I was in elementary/high school and have gone back to read it multiple times since then, and I am a fan of the irresistible Scarlett O'Hara as much as I love the cocky Rhett Butler. It was a dream come true to ride through the town where houses and estates from the time stand proud having been restored. Simply put, a classic novel that continues to outlive the time it was created in.
House by the railway tracks that served as the confederate hospital
Though BH has no such affiliation to the book or the equally well made movie that followed it, he was a great sport and patiently waited as I savored my moments in that town and helped me make memories:-). I picked up a couple of keepsakes (thus sealing the fact that I was a tourist :-)), thought the spoons looked cute with their Rhett Butler and Scarlett faces :-). Something cool for the photo props - ultimately it is all about the food blog!!
When I think about food from childhood, it almost seems like a different era. Nammamma is not able to cook anymore, the memories are all there, very fresh, every movement associated with the recipe is etched in the brain but it feels like it is never going be the same again. As I grow older, I realize that some things have changed forever. Probably that was why the recent brush with 'Gone with the wind experience' was more real than fictional in nature :-(
On to food matters now - As little Krishna's birthday followed immediately after my celebration of Varamahalakshmi last week, I made some of the standard items for little Krishna and we sent our first package off to DD after the pooje. These kodubales were on the menu as DD loves them.

Given my (and my family's) love for this dish, it probably should have been on the blog long before now. But somehow I kept hesitating as it never seemed to be the same as my benchmark though everyone who ate it said it was one of the best kodubale they had eaten. Beating or matching nammamma at her signature dish is a tall order. A few months back when I made this, big brother took a bite and just kept eating. The look on his face somehow made me feel very good about those kodubales. And finally satiated, he said, "they taste almost like amma's" :-) and that was all the certificate I was waiting for.

First of all, let me introduce this strangely named snack to you if you aren't familiar with it. 'Bale' in Kannada is bangle/bracelet and refers to the round shape of the snack that you can slide down your wrist  just like a bracelet. 'Kodu' is the horns of animals such as cows or buffaloes :-) and it just refers to how they are shaped. Some people pull the end long enough over the first circle to make it look almost as if it was double layered (reminds me of the spring bangles we wore as kids :-)). The size and shape is purely personal preference.
Although nammamma made these kodubale for a long time and we had all taken it for granted, the first time I realized their importance and greatness was when my uncle (amma's older brother) and family moved to Mysore after a long tenure at the country's capital. Uncle & aunty were coming back to live their retired life after many years of having stayed in the north and nammamma was very excited to have her brother and sis-in-law stay in the same city. My cousins, all of them grown up came to settle the parents down and we went to visit them with a basket of kobbari mithai and kodubale - two of amma's signature dishes. The warmth of the reunion was almost over shadowed by the joy of eating those delicious kodubales for my cousins as they went all ga-ga over those home made beauties :-). From then on nammamma made kodubales for them every occasion one of more of them came visiting. Looking at their excitement made me realize how lucky I was to have them at home all the time :-)

When we made these in Mysore, it was always in multiples of 4 cups (4cups is a standard measure called 'SEru' in Kannada) and more than one coconut was broken and grated. The gas stove obviously was moved down to the floor from its usual spot on the kitchen counter to enable nammamma to sit down comfortably and we kids volunteered to help her with the process. There was akka who always rolled kodubale in uniform size and shape and stacked them in dainty little stacks, little brother who was the muscle man and would mostly knead the dough to perfection as amma instructed and I would do my bit of service by making some kodubale ready. But me & little brother were mostly there to eat everything we could sneak from the raw dough (it is delicious!) to the cooked kodubale unless it was being made for a festival offering in which case eating was totally banned :-(.
There are many versions of kodubale that I have come across - I have a Telugu equivalent called Chegodilu of it already on the blog. I have eaten the small, cute looking kodubale in bakeries in India made mostly from maida (all purpose flour) and dalda (a preferred substitute for butter by the store owners) that have a flaky texture and then there are many version of kodubale made with a mixture of rice, wheat flours (roasted/unroasted) etc. For me personally, nothing, ever can replace the kodubale nammamma makes. And in the days when she made these in bulk, they were the most sought after snacks among the family and friends. These are rich in taste, perfect in texture and crispiness. Here is the kodubale recipe from nammamma's kitchen, make it, enjoy it and treat the recipe with love!

I probably made about 1/4 of the quantity nammamma would make on regular basis. It still took me a couple of hours to get them all done. I have a packet of dry red chilies that are extremely spicy and I am using them in limited quantities. You can use red chili powder instead of the whole red chilies if you prefer. My kodubales are a little lighter in color due to the fact that my chilies while hot are not very colorful.
What do you need to make Kodubale? 
2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup kadle/fried gram/chutney dal
3/4 cup grated coconut
6-8 dry red chilies
1/4 Tsp asafoetida
1 Tsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp hot oil
Oil to deep fry
curry leaves
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)

How do you make Kodubale? 
  • Powder fried gram, red chilies, asafoetida and salt in a blender until fine. 
  • Add coconut to this mixture along with 1/2 cup water and blend to a smooth paste. 
  • Take rice flour in a wide bowl. 
  • Add sesame seeds, finely chopped curry leaves and pour in the ground mixture.
  • Mix lightly with fingers until all ingredients come together, Note: they will still be wet and crumbly at this stage.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a small pan and pour it over the rice flour mixture (the oil should be hot enough to sizzle when it comes in contact with the flour).
  • Let it stand for 2 minutes and then mix everything together. 
  • Heat  oil for deep frying in a wide & deep kadai/pan. 
  • Taste check the crumbly mixture, adjust salt, chili powder to taste. Remember the spicyness mellows down once you deep fry them. 
  • Take a couple of handfuls of the crumbly mixture onto a flat surface or countertop and start adding water little by little. 
  • Cover and keep the remaining flour mixture. 
  • Form a dough by mixing just enough water to get a consistency of that of soft chapati dough. 
  • Knead this dough - here is how you do it, use a light pressure with your top of the palm and fingers and keep rotating the ball of the dough for 3-4 minutes until it feels supple and soft to touch. DO NOT USE THE SQUEEZE-ROLL MOVEMENT YOU DO FOR ROTIS OR BREAD. This requires a much gently touch. 
  • Pinch off a key lime size of the dough, roll it gently into a long pencil, turn the end to meet together, press them together and make a bangle. 
  • Make 5-8 (or as many as your oil pan can hold at a time) kodubales ready in the same manner.
  • Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium and slide the kodubales ones by one into the oil.
  • Curb the urge to flip them over immediately, let them come to the surface on their own (20-25secs) and let them cook for atleast a minute before gently flipping them over. 
  • Let both sides cook well to get a golden brown color before taking the kodubales out onto a tissue lined plate. 
  • Never fry kodubale in a hurry, have patience and the temperature of the oil is key to good kodubale. The oil should immediately form small bubbles around the kodubale when you drop them in but the kodubale takes a few seconds to come to the surface. 
  • If the oil is too hot, the kodubale turns brown quick but will become soggy & soft once it cools down. 
  • If the oil is not hot enough, the kodubale takes longer to cook, develop bubbles on the surface, absorb oil and turn heavy. 
  • Kneading is important to get a smooth dough that doesn't break as you roll and bend them. 
  • The thickness of the pencil and the size of the bangle is a personal preference. The thicker they are, the kodubales take longer to cook and may turn soft if under cooked. If they are too thin, they tend to burn faster or become too crispy. 
  • Coconut is what gives that brilliant taste to this version of kodubale :-), do not skimp on it. 
  • I use saffola or peanut oil for deep frying both of which can withstand high temperatures without going rancid. 
Railway tracks - one of the prime focal points of the battle

1 comment:

NamsVeni Pothas said... of my favorite snack! right choice for a lazy holiday . pictures are nice. I can not prepare at I will buy a small packet of Kodubale. thanks for the nice recipe.