There comes a time in everyone’s life when they realize that instant noodles and cheap fast food cannot be the sole constituents of one’s diet. No matter how many different ways you try to make Maggi, at the end of the day it is essentially the same and you need a change. Tis a sad realization that comes through much soul searching and meditation. But the result is that you bite the cooking bug, apron up and head into the kitchen.

(Disclaimer: This is almost all going to be Indian food because that’s what I was brought up on and that’s what feels familiar to me :p )

What I intend from this series of articles is to enable a rookie to get back a little taste of home when he’s out on his own. This winter I’m sitting at home so I decided to document all these little things because I’m pretty sure that I’ll forget this stuff and will need to refer back here in a while :p

The first lesson I needed was to make the 3 basic dishes that form a bulk of my staple food at home.

Rice:

white-rice

Of course we have to start with rice. I looked it up and apparently a fifth of all calories taken in yearly by all humans around the world are from rice so it probably makes sense to know how to make it.

Ingredients:

Rice, water

(No surprises there :p )

Recipe:

 

Using a pressure cooker:

  1. Rinse the rice to be cooked in a vessel. Once you’re done cleaning ensure that the rice in the vessel is submerged under water.
  2. Pour water in a pressure cooker at the bottom (source of steam) and place the rice containing vessel into it. Close the lid of the pressure cooker (fitted with rubber gasket) and close till it locks firmly.
  3. Set the cooker on a stove (medium heat) and wait till you see steam escaping from the vent. The time it takes for steam to build up depends on the quantity of rice being cooked and the intensity of heat set on the stove.
  4. Once you see steam escaping from the vent, place the weight on top of the vent in a way that it snaps firmly in place.
  5. The cooker will ‘whistle’ twice and you’re good to go.

Proportions:

1 cup rice – 2 cups water – 1/2 tea spoon salt

Pressure Points:

  • Never forget the gasket on the cooker
  • Forgetting the water at the bottom of the cooker
  • I’ve been told adding lemon at the bottom of the cooker helps to prevent the vessel from sticking (so if someone could experiment and lemme know if that works :p )

If you’re not using a pressure cooker. then go ahead with the water and salt, just skip the extra cooker-related charades.

Dosas:

dosa

The favourite breakfast (and dinner) option of many South Indian moms and once you’re done with this you realise why. It’s so damn simple and it never goes to waste because you cook just what you want.

We’ll divide this into two parts. Making the batter and making the dosas. (If you have readymade batter move on to part two)

Making the batter:

Ingredients:

Parboiled rice (colloquially called ‘Idli rice’), Urad dal, salt

Recipe:

  1. Load it into a grinder and let ‘er rip XD
  2. That or you could use a blender too if quantities are less.
  3. Again everybody says use salt as needed so it doesn’t make sense to add too much now itself. You can always add extra salt at the time of making so it’s cool.

Proportions:

So this is awkward, it varies from place to place and whatever you choose you’ll just get a different texture of dosa.

A good estimate is around:

1.5 glasses Idli rice – 0.5 glasses Urad Dal

Pressure Points:

  • While storing the batter, don’t fill the container to the brim. It may rise leading to an almighty mess
  • Don’t make too much in advance as it gets spoilt (within a week in India weather)
  • Control amount of water in batter to get a thick and smooth texture

Making the Dosa:

Ingredients:

Batter, Salt, Oil

Recipe:

  1. Get the frying pan on the induction stove/gas stove and preheat until a water drop evaporates instantly on touching it
  2. Add batter in shape of a dosa, swivel out from the centre gently increasing radius and let it cook.
  3. Oil the edge of the dosa. This helps when you need to flip it.
  4. Wait till the edges turn golden brown.
  5. Flip it over carefully ensuring that it doesn’t tear. (Ruins the aesthetics doesn’t it :p ) Let this side cook as well.
  6. Taste the first one instantly and add extra salt to the batter if needed

Proportions:

One cup of rice and the corresponding amount of urad dal gives around 15-20 dosas but this figure is liable to change depending on the consistency of batter that you choose.

Pressure Points:

  • Rub the tawa with salt at the start, really helps in flipping the dosas
  • More oil makes it easier to flip over but don’t add too much
  • Be patient and let it cook properly before trying to flip it over. That causes a big mess
  • Heat the tawa on a low flame for a longer time, this leads to more even cooking and less chances of it sticking (Trust me, no idea how, but it works :p)

Chapatis:

The thing that those same South Indian moms make when they finally relent to all the mutiny at home about too much idli/dosa.

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Ingredients:

Wheat flour (atta), lukewarm water, salt (starting to see a pattern here)

Recipe:

  1. Add the ingredients in a bowl and hand knead them to make a soft, supple dough
  2. Don’t add all the water at once, do it slowly as the dough comes together from the coarse mixture.
  3. Divide the dough into many small balls, and cover these in flour. Roughly equally in size and around 2 inches diameter should work.
  4. Roll each one using a rolling pin until they are all thin and ideally round (lot harder than it sounds :p )
  5. Heat using a frying pan using medium heat, ensuring that neither side burns too much.
  6. Keep rotating every few seconds to ensure even cooking

Proportions:

2 cups of Wheat flour – One cup lukewarm water

One cup of wheat flour gives 6 chapatis so choose accordingly.

Pressure Points:

  • When fully kneaded, the dough should be nice and smooth; if it’s too hard, then the chapati won’t puff up. However, if it’s too soft, then it’ll be harder to roll it and it won’t puff up, either.
  • As you see the chapati filling up with air, you can lightly press down on these spots to encourage the air to pass through the entire chapati. This puffiness will make the chapati nice and soft.
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