Monday, September 7, 2015

Rice muthia (cutlet?) - Jazzing up left over rice.. and learning to stop hiding in the bushes

It sounds, looks and smells like autumn already around me and I believe it was summer when I was writing my last post. Has it been really that long or is it just that I have been on the border of both seasons? Not sure, anyways it definitely has been a while since I wrote here. 
Things had been busy, no actually crazy busy and more than the 'busy' stuff, it was emotionally tough as we all prepared to drop DD off at her college. I think the day came too soon, BH & I have been back to the empty nest for a week now and having spent our first weekend at home and by ourselves we acknowledge that it is no fun sending your baby away to a place that is 4+ hours flight distance :-(. Then she is no baby but a beautiful, smart, kind and generous young lady looking to carve her own path in life. 

It was great to see her going in there, making friends, figuring out things on her own and finding things of interest to her. Her move in was hasslefree, a couple of additional runs to the stores to fill gaps and she was all set to sleep in her own room on the first day. We saw her the 2nd, 3rd, 4th .. days but for increasingly shorter duration of time as she progressively became busier with her activities. I remember dropping her off at day care on my way to work as though it was only yesterday, here we are dropping her off at college. I also remember hanging around inside the fence of the building so I could watch her while she didn't see me. I saw the chubby cheeks poof up, the bright eyes cloud just so with a few tears before she bravely tawdled forward and smiled at another toddler sitting there. Hiding from where I was, I saw her look around with anxious eyes for familiar faces but always smiling so the other crying children stopped crying simply distracted. The day care girl graduated to elementary school to move onto Middle school and then a Junior High and a High school. All the while keeping her blissful cheer and spreading it generously to those around her. 
She made the umpteen relocations in the last 17 years seem nothing but adventurous by heartily accepting every move and staying positive to the changes. Change is not new to her but what is different this time is facing all of the change by herself. She says she had her first taste of Tofu in the dining hall (after all the threats she issued me when I talked about replacing her favorite paneer with Tofu, I feel cheated :-). she is a drama queen if I haven't said that before), she went with her friends to a farmer's market (I know the apple doesn't fall far away from the tree) and brought vegetables to cook. She has carried a tiny rice cooker with a steamer in it which seems to be working well. She has already made rice twice and had her dinner in the room. The daily doses of chats, calls etc help loads and keep us all informed of how we are doing. Never before have I been so glad to be living in these technologically advanced times which makes physical distance shrink with communication. 

Her classes started last week while we were there and it was just like when we dropped her off the first day at kindergarten - a tight hug, a peck on the cheek and then she walks away without turning back, I have so grown used to that, there were times I used to envy other parents standing next to me as their kids kept waving until the teacher dragged them off while mine just skipped away happily after saying a bye to mom. With God's grace, our 3rd wheel has made a smooth transition over to her own tracks and seems to have settled in well in her new environment and I think it is time for us to 'get a life' like she teases us all the time. 
We went to see a movie last week (don't ask me which one, I don't have a review for you :-)) as there was nothing much else to do and it hit us when the large popcorn bucket seemed menacingly large for the 2 of us and so did the large coke that the three of us always share during a movie. Not to break tradition, we ended up buying a small packet of popcorn and soda and then throwing out the not fully empty packets into trash afterwards. Don't get the wrong idea that my little girl is a glutton, actually it would be me eating most of the popcorn as soon we settled in the theater but somehow last week, my hands had lost the motion and tongue the taste. So we ate what we could and then threw out the rest. 

I appreciate my parents so much more now with this experience not only because of everything they have done for us but especially for the grace with which they handled us kids flying out of the nest one by one without ever letting us feel the extent of pain. There is also the recognition of pleasure and pride watching my little one spread her wings and fly independently but life as we knew for last 17 years has definitely changed. All I know is I am extremely happy to be her mom :-) and will always be. 

Since I missed out doing Varalaxmi pooja the previous week due to the travel, I ended up celebrating it this past Friday. Amma has kinda drilled this idea of keeping 9 items (atleast) for the offering but I was rushed for time and also lack of interest to make elaborate stuff on Friday. I kinda changed the usual menu, cooked rice and made 5 varieties of rice dishes with it, more than 50% done right there with a swish, swoosh and a few spices :-) and then I added 4 other items to make 9. Here is my thali from the pooja day - it had puliyogare, vangi bhaath, lemon rice, coconut rice, yogurt rice, payasa (kheer), kosambari, usali, urad dal bondas and dahi vada. 
I am still getting used to cooking for two and the rice I cooked was too much even after making 5 bowls of variety rice items :-). I pushed the remaining white rice into the fridge and didn't think about it until last evening. When I finally started planning my work week menu, the left over rice in the corner of the fridge looked all lonely and bored. We were both tired of eating rice in all its glory and I was definitely not going to make the same left over rice dishes again :-). So here is a make over dish made from left over rice - but you won't believe it is so since the new avatar entirely makes you forget the source :-)

I had seen this recipe on one of the foodie groups, I wish I had book marked it so I could give proper credits to the original recipe creator. I tried reproducing what I remembered but may have digressed from the original recipe somewhat. That is the beauty of it as it allows you a free reign and you get to customize it. And when I gave them to BH and asked him what went into it, he said it reminded him of muthias. I was going to call them left over rice cutlets because of how I had shaped them but then I don't argue with wise men especially the one that happens to be my husband so we both agreed to call it (left over) rice muthias. The best part is they stay good even after a day and all you need is to pull them out of the refrigerator and give a quick heat up in the microwave. Yummy & tasty, so left over rice doesn't have to be a pain any more. 

Note: if this post seems overly personal for some of your taste, please skip forward to the recipe. I needed to talk about it and I find my blogspace private enough to put my thoughts :-)
What do you need to make Rice muthias? 
2 cups cooked rice (mashed well)
1 cup whisked yogurt
2 Tbsp gram flour/besan
1 cup chopped fenugreek leaves
1/2 cup grated carrots
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion 
2-3 green chilies
1 inch piece ginger
2 Tbsp oil - divided use
1/2 Tsp mustard
1 Tsp sesame seeds
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1-2 dry red chilies
few curry leaves

How do you make Rice muthias? 
  • Mix rice with the yogurt and let it stand outside refrigerator for 4-5 hours, overnight soaking is best for a flavorful muthia. 
  • Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and let them pop. 
  • Add finely chopped onions and saute until they turn translucent. 
  • Add the fenugreek leaves, green chilies & ginger paste and grated carrots along with 1/2 Tsp salt and saute until they turn soft, about 2-3 minutes on medium heat. 
  • Switch off, let it cool and then add it to the rice mixture. Mix them all together along with remaining salt. 
  • Add gram flour little by little - this is a binding agent so go for as little as you need from the 2Tbsp set aside. 
  • Taste and adjust salt, spices as you need. 
  • Pinch off lemon sized balls of the mixture, make a round and flatten it like you would a cutlet. Keep them ready on a plate. 
  • Heat a wide pan or griddle.
  • Add remaining oil into it followed by sesame seeds and pieces of red chilies. 
  • Give the seeds about 30 seconds head start before sliding in the rice muthias one by one in a single layer. 
  • Do it in batches if your pan is small. 
  • Let it cook on low to medium heat until the bottom is crisp and golden brown. 
  • Flip them over gently and let them cook until the other side turns golden brown too. 
  • Remove them onto plates and serve with chutney, ketchup or by themselves.
  • The rice needs to be mushy and soft cooked for this, If your cooked rice is grainy or dry, mash then in your palms to soften them up before adding yogurt. I cover it with a wet paper towel and microwave to soften the rice. 
  • Keeping the rice and yogurt together for a few hours infuses that slight tang in the dish, if you do not want this, go ahead and make them right away. 
  • It is important to cook them on low to medium heat since we add raw gram flour into the mixture. 
  • You can make them cyclindrical in shape but I feel it cooks better and more uniformly if it is shaped like a pattice. 
  • Carrots and fenugreek leaves were my choice but you can add other veggies like grated radish, kohlrabi, spinach etc. 
Special note: 
I added carrots as an afterthought so my pictures look a little off :-)


NamsVeni Pothas said...

wonderful recipe with left over rice. correct use of it. about is the life cycle we all must go through . we wish her all success

Kannada Cuisine said...

Awww...Such a sweet post Nagashree. I have been missing in action for quite a while myself though college is still distant. I still am going to cuddle up with Sunny boy tonight. After reading your post it strikes me that i got to treasure our time together for hey do grow up in a hurry

Nagashree said...

Thanks Smitha, it is always a joy no matter what age they are but enjoy the cuddle times. Give a hug to your little guy from me too. I plan to start visiting my blogger friends soon too and will see you more often.