Friday, May 21, 2010
Coconut-Rice Island in Spicy Chickpea Curry: My Take on Puttu Kadala
This recipe starts with simmering chickpeas in a turmeric broth until tender. Then I made my own masala (spice mix) of coconut, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, chile peppers, cinnamon and cloves. All my favorites. After the chickpeas were done I sauteed some mustard seeds, onion, garlic, ginger and more chile peppers together with the masala I just made. When the onion was cooked I added the chickpeas and enough turmeric broth to cover everything. Then, for the most important step, I let the stew sit in the refrigerator all day so the flavors could mingle and mellow.
For the dumpling, I ground brown basmati rice in the spice grinder and mixed in salt and coconut milk and let the resulting grainy paste sit in the fridge as well. This allowed the rice to soften before steaming. I didn't have the special puttu steamer, and wasn't willing to go and buy one just for this recipe, but I saw on another blog that you can use a sieve instead. I alternated layers of coconut flakes with the rice-coconut milk mixture in my small metal sieve, set it over a saucepan of boiling water, covered it with foil and let it steam for about 12 minutes. I was skeptical about the result. But I gave it a taste and was wowed by the flavor and texture. It had a fluffy consistency like cous cous and that really satisfying richness that comes from coconut milk and just enough salt to bring out the flavors.
I tried to invert it onto a plate, picked up the pieces and fixed it to look like a dumpling, and poured the reheated chickpea stew around like a moat. Am I thinking about making this miniature island again for the LOST series finale? Yes.