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Flapjacks with a side of Flavonoids - Lavender Idlies & Dosais



It never ceases to surprise me how the simplest of recipes I try on a whim get the maximum attention from my Instagram account  Panfusine Facebook page. I don't think I've ever seriously given a thought to blogging about Idlies, but  I did share the interesting trials when I  played around with using silicone Ice cube molds for steaming them. The response was fabulous, and I had 'desi' mothers from all around the world writing to tell me how their kids suddenly thought the previously 'boring & staid' idlies were 'cool' again. 

My 6 year old is in that phase when the silliest of things sets her off into peals of laughter. what started out as a discussion about carrots and the various colors they come in, she suddenly switched over to her favorite breakfast idlies and started giggling about how funny  idlies would be if I made them in the colors of the rainbow, starting with red. Her boy scout of an elder brother started  a lecture on how yucky it would be to add artificial food coloring, when the color moved eventually to violet, it hit me that I had once tried to make dosas  using purple forbidden (the results were rather dark -- literally, -- disappointing).

It turns out that  purple rice is a hand pounded rice that still retains its outer coating with all its healthy essential nutrients in addition to a healthy dose of  flavonoids & anthocyanins, the same purple compound found in blueberries. The presence of this outer coating renders it useless when used by itself in a dosa / idli batter (which relies on the amylopectin from parboiled rice to give it the gel like property that makes the steamed cake so sponge like and soft). I was prepared for some trial and error in the proportions of purple rice I should have used in the batter, but my first guess hit it right on the spot.I had perfect  idlies from a perfectly fermented batter on day 1 and gorgeous lacy dosais the next day.


It turns out that Purple rice used to be grown in South India (around the Tirunelveli/Kerala region) a couple of generations ago and was referred to as 'Mye kuru' arisi (Mye being the Tamil word for Ink)/ Unfortunately, it seems to have lost out in the race with the mongrel hybrid species that abound today. Apparently It is still cultivated on a small scale in the Eastern parts of India.
As for my supply of purple rice, Its either the Lotus Foods Brand (my first taste of this variety of rice) or the generic varieties from the local oriental grocery (much more economical).

Lavender Idlies:

You need:
2 1/2 cups parboiled 'Idli' rice (available at any Indian store, even organic varieties) 
1/2 cup purple forbidden rice
1 cup split dehusked Urad dal (Matpe beans)
1 tablespoon Fenugreek seeds

Combine the two varieties of rice, rinse well (you'll have no way of knowing if the water runs clear, because the purple color bleeds away, so rinse  away, changing the water about 3 - 4 times). submerge the rice in adequate water and allow to rest for 2 - 4 hours.

Combine the Urad and the fenugreek, rinse until the water runs clear and submerge in enough water an let the dal hydrate and plump up.
Grind the rice to a thick smooth paste in a blender. Transfer to a large container. Repeat with the Urad dal, taking care to add sufficient water while blending to obtain a batter which is somewhat fluffy in consistency. (like beaten egg whites). Combine the rice & the urad batters with the salt taking care to mix well using your hands (yeah , its messy, & the batter isn't even worth licking!).

The rule to remember here is that the rice has to blended to a smooth consistency for  idlies, a coarse blend yields flat idlies. And the idli batter can be used to make dosas the next day, but the converse does not work.Cover & place in the oven with the light switched on over night. Alternatively bloom a packet of yeast in warm water and add to the batter. Allow to rest for an hour. Mix well before making the idli or dosai.

For directions to make idlies, please follow this link:
http://www.panfusine.com/2013/11/quick-post-tutorial-on-idlies.html

Idlies steamed in a Tovolo heart shaped ice cube mold

and this link for Masala dosas:


Purple rice goes way beyond just confering its gorgeous color to dishes. its ultra flavorful, and makes a kick ass candidate for creamy desserts like Payasam. you just need to be patient enough to cook it through!

A sure fire 4 ingredient rice pudding, that really doesn't even need a recipe!


 Bon appetit!




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