Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Balekayi Palya


Balekayi Palya. When we visit our parents, one of the first things that get planned (even before we reach their place) is the food! My father takes the lead, asking us for our preference before he goes out to buy vegetables. Considering my mother's fairly vast repertoire of lip-smacking traditional cuisine, not so easy to decide! Also considering my three siblings, their spouses, plus our kids, there are too many palates to please when we all gather. This time around, the popular vote for the meal was for balekayi palya, saaru (rasam), huli (sambar) and rice, the star being the palya. 
Balekayi in Kannada is raw plantain and I have fond memories of eating different types of palya made by my mother. Part of the umm... charm was squabbling over the slightly charred bits of the stir-fry.  We would so look forward to the meal, eat some palya with plain steamed rice, some with rasam and then finally some with curd rice.  Simple meals are often the most satisfying, especially with the mother hovering around, serving generously!

This is not a dish you could make in a hurry as peeling the plantains and grating them can be a bit messy. The grated plantain is mixed with some rawa, wheat flour, spices, oil and salt. Then fried in a generous amount of oil until cooked and crisp. Well worth the effort of course! 

I did not have my standard measuring cups, measured using another cup set which looked a bit suspiciously un-standard to me! Please take this as a rough estimate, remembering that more of wheat flour will make the palya sticky, whereas a bit more oil won't hurt :) Be generous with the spices and you will have a winner!

Balekayi Palya (Serves 8 -10)

Raw firm plantains, grated 7 cups-  (about 5 medium sized ones)
Bansi rawa - 5 tablespoons
Wheat flour - 3 tablespoons (read note)
Salt - to taste
Red chilli powder - 2 tablespoons
Hing - a generous pinch
Oil - 2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup (Yes, this is quite a bit, but necessary! Do not skimp)
Mustard - 1 teaspoon
Urad dal - 1 teaspoon
Chana dal - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric - 1 teaspoon
Hing - a pinch

Method : The plantains need to be raw, green and very firm. If you do buy them ahead, keep them immersed in water as it prevents them from ripening.

Oil your hands, peel and grate the plantains using a fairly large holed grated. A thin holed one may make the palya mushy.

Mix together the wheat flour, bansi rawa, salt, chilli powder, 2 tbsp oil, hing and salt. Mix this lightly but thoroughly into the grated plantains. Heat the remaining oil in a heavy bottomed wide pan. Add the mustard, let it sputter. Then the chana dal, urad dal, hing and turmeric. Once the dals turn golden brown, add the plantain mixture. Mix well, cover and cook on low heat. Do not add any water. Cook till done and crisp, mixing gently 2-3 times in between, making sure you scrape out the palya from the bottom. Take care not to over mix or the palya will be mushy. Turn off the heat, keep covered for a few minutes. 

Serve hot with steamed rice and rasam.

In case you thought I am experimenting with the camera, of course not! It is just me trying to manage a couple of pictures  in the chaos with the hungry clan waiting for their meal!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Baked Rice Pudding With Mangoes

Baked Rice Pudding With Mangoes. In the sweltering heat, with constant power cuts and water supply woes, mangoes are probably the only things that bring a smile on the face of every person living in India. We will gloat over the amazing bargain we got at the local market no end! Can eat the fruit every single day in all possible ways. Gift them when we visit folks and buy fewer mangoes when we expect guests who are sure to bring us some (more) mangoes. Furiously stock up on mango pickles, mango preserves, dried mangoes, mango leather, mango-everything and then mourn the end of the season!

Being such a delicious fruit and a good looking one at that, mangoes have to feature in at least one or two summer posts of every self-respecting food blogger. Gosh, I have a lot of catching up to do here, as I barely have anything mango here. But that thankfully can easily be remedied!  

Let me start with this satisfying, homey, Mango Rice Pudding. It is similar to kheer but the creaminess comes with the eggs and in just 15 -17 minutes.  You may want to try this if anything custard based immediately goes on your must-try list. And do check the whole grain version given below. You could make it with left-over aromatic rice if you have some or with brown rice and lots of dried fruit and nuts as in the original recipe. 

Rice Pudding With Mangoes - Based on Brown Rice Pudding recipe from the KAF Whole Grain Baking Book.


Whole milk ( 3.5% fat)  - 2 cups / 480 ml
Soft, unsalted butter - 15 grams
Eggs - 2 large / 100 grams
Sugar - 130 grams
Cooked rice, cooled - 2 cups ( I used basmati)
Vanilla - 2 teaspoons 
Fresh mangoes for the topping

Method : Lightly butter a 9'' round tin. 

Pre-heat oven to 160 C / 325 F.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar till well combined. Set aside.

 Heat the milk in a heavy saucepan pan on medium heat, till you see bubbles forming around the edges. Stir to prevent a skin from forming. The milk will be hot, but not boiling. Stir in the butter.

Whisking constantly, very slowly, ladle the hot milk into the eggs,  adding just a little of the hot milk at a time. Do not rush this process or the mixture may curdle.

Stir in the rice and the vanilla. 

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 15-17 minutes or till the pudding is set around the edges.  The rest of the surface will look jiggly. The time may vary, be careful here. Err on the side of under baking as over baking will cause the pudding to curdle. 

Remove from the oven, let cool completely. Stir, spoon into glasses and chill. Enjoy the creamy pudding topped with fresh mangoes and sliced pistachios if you like. 

Please note : Do not use low fat or skimmed milk as you will not be happy with the results.

Variation : The original recipe uses 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 cup of dried fruit ( apricots, cherries, raisins and cranberries), 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. If you  try this, you may want to increase the sugar by a couple of tablespoons. 

You can also subscribe to my channel on YouTube. Click to subscribe now!
You can also subscribe to my channel on YouTube. Click to subscribe now!