String Hoppers ,It is melting in the mouth.It is heart warming.It is soul stirring !!!

It is melting in the mouth.It is heart warming.It is soul stirring !!!

After long hours of cooking and a hearty breakfast of String hoppers and vegetable stew ,  followed by a hot cup of ginger tea , I was inspired to write a few lines about the yummy dish I just ate.

I thank myself for being born and brought up in a small village  in the  Kuttanadu region of Kerala with a   moniker ‘’the rice bowl’’ of India for its lush green expanse of paddy fields . Kuttanadu is also one of the few places in the world which does below sea level farming. Rice was abundant and so was the delicacies made from rice.

In my childhood days  with my Grand Ma ,we always had a variety of breakfast items made from  raw rice and rice flour  like  Idli and Dosa, Puttu, Idiyappam (String Hoppers ) , Uppuma (made from broken rice )  and Kanji (Rice gruel)  etc.

Idiyappam  probably got its name from ‘’Idi ‘’ means pounding. Those days rice flour didn’t come in packets from super markets. For all food items  the main ingredient was rice .  Rice was bought from farmers and then it was  de husked  and stored in huge wooden boxes called ”Ari petti”. This  rice taken out as when needed , processed and pounded at home to make different delicacies.

Delicacies like soft  and white Idiyappams  , Kozhukkattai , Adai  and Puttu were made from the finest of rice flour.  The rice was soaked first for eight to ten hours. Then it was thoroughly cleaned in water and sieved by hand to remove any small stones . The cleaned rice is  sun dried for a day. Now the rice is ready for the pounding in  an appliance called‘’Ural’’.

Ural is a cylindrical stone mortar with a five feet long wooden baton with metallic caps on both ends.  Ural was used for de husking and pounding rice, coffee beans , other spices and condiments required in the kitchen.

Women did this work with great expertise and ease.  The baton was raised by one hand and brought down by the other hand forcefully and repeatedly into the cylindrical cavity of ural holding rice. The pounded rice was  sieved to get the finest flour. The whole process had a  pleasing beat and rhythm . Needless to say women of those days were quite  healthier and a happier lot,due to these physical training they did as a part of their routine kitchen work.

I observed most of these works were done in small groups constituting women and children in a jovial atmosphere of abandon. Their happy vibes added so much more flavor to the food thus made.

Here is a simple recipe of String Hoppers and vegetable stew  for my dear readers who may love to try them out 🙂

String Hoppers

Ingredients:

2 cups rice flour (get any brand )

3 cups water

½ tsp salt

2 tsp of any cooking oil / ghee

1 cup grated coconut

 

Preparation

Keep the water for boiling along with salt. Take a kadai and lightly roast the flour on small flame for five minutes. Add the boiling water in small quantities and keep mixing with a wooden ladle.  You can stop adding water once a soft dough is formed. Switch off the gas and add the oil or ghee and mix again . Once the dough reaches a bearable heat knead it well using hands. Now fill the dough in a string hopper maker and press lightly to thin noodles. These noodles are topped with grated coconut and steamed in an Idli cooker for five minutes on medium flame. Hoppers are removed now and are ready to serve.  This  is normally accompanied by a vegetable stew . Grand ma used to serve us  Idiyappam  with a spoonful of sugar. As easy as that.   Today I gave a topping of honey and a pinch of brown sugar to the string hoppers. It is purely my own innovation and tasted absolutely divine.

Vegetable Stew

Ingredients:

2 small sized potatoes

A handful of French beans

1 small carrot

1 medium sized onion (optional)

½ cup green peas

2 green chillies

1 green chilli pepper

1 small piece of ginger

1 tsp crushed black pepper

Whole Spices:

1 small piece of Cinnamon stick

2 to 3 cloves

2 to 3 Elaichi

1 small star anise

2 cups fresh coconut milk

Curry leaves

3 tsp coconut oil

Preparation

Cut the vegetables into squares. Beans can be cut into small elongated pieces. Ginger and green chillies julienne d or cut into thin slices.

Take a cooker and heat the coconut oil.  Add the whole spices first and sauté them for a few minutes. Now add the vegetables  and sauté them till the  vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent.  Add salt and crushed black pepper.  Cook the ingredients now by adding half cup water to a pressure of   one whistle. Allow the cooker to cool . Add the coconut milk and stir well.  Allow to simmer for  a few minutes. Add curry leaves and take off from flame. I am sure the soft String Hoppers and the subtle stew will awe you !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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surekha chandrasekhar

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