Saturday, May 19, 2018

Recipe of the month: Karnataka Speciality - Ragi Rotti (Finger Millet Pancake)

I'm back from my India sojourn! Home visits mean a lot to me - it offers a chance to reconnect with family, make new memories and recharge those drained out batteries 😊

This post is courtesy of my recent trip you guys. Since the past few visits home, I have had the pleasure of savouring these ragi rottis for breakfast. My mom has had some much-needed help in the kitchen since the past three years and hailing from Mysore, these women have re-introduced the rural staple ragi rotti to our Tulu Nadu tastebuds. Having not eaten much of this dish during my childhood, I have to admit, I have taken an immense liking to it now. 

Ragi rotti is a breakfast dish from the state of Karnataka, India. It is most popular in the rural areas of southern Karnataka. It is made of ragi (finger millet) flour. Ragi rotti in the native language Kannada, literally translates to finger millet pancake. While on the subject, don't confuse ragi rotti with ragi roti. The latter is more like a chapati with ragi flour incorporated into the dough. Ragi rotti on the other hand, is prepared in the same way as the more well-known Akki rotti. The ragi flour is mixed with salt and water and kneaded well into a soft dough. While making the dough, chopped onions, grated carrots, chopped coriander, cumin seeds and more can be added to enhance the taste. A few drops of oil is spread over a griddle (tava) and a ball of the dough is thinly patted over it to resemble a thin pancake (rotti). Again, a little oil is drizzled over it and the tava is cooked over medium heat till the rotti turns crisp. Ragi Rotti is served hot and is usually eaten along with coriander or peanut chutney.

So my mum's current cook is a kind, matronly woman from Mysore who makes really yummy ragi rotti. I've eaten them twice before and this visit, I decided that I would jot down the recipe and observe how she makes them. Compared to most ragi rotti recipes that I have come across, she adds an extra step by making a finely ground mixture of roasted chana dal, coconut and green chillies and mixing it with the rest of the ingredients to form a dough. Her reasoning is that it improves the taste and texture of the rottis. I concur! The rottis she makes are soft yet crispy and packed full of flavour. She makes a moreish chutney on the side and slathered with a knob of butter and my mum's fabulous filter coffee, this makes for one dynamite breakfast! 

I've said this before in my previous Instant Ragi Dosa post - ragi has high protein content, is a rich source of minerals, helps control diabetes, keeps weight in check, battles anemia, reduces 'bad' cholesterol and has anti-cancer properties. You don't really need to go looking for any other trendy and overpriced  'superfoods'. This ancient and cheap wonder grain does you a world of good and makes you feel full. This dish in particular is easy to make, nutritious, vegan, gluten-free and tastes wonderful too! That is checking all the boxes for even the most specific dietary needs, don't you think?

So I hope I have convinced you to give this dish a go, especially if you have never tried it before. Let me know what you think 😊

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Baker's Corner: Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti

Look who decided to finally show up on the blog 😝 I know folks....sporadic appearances are no good. Just as I wrapped up a long and eventful holiday to India and was getting into the groove, I will be leaving in a few days for yet another trip to the homeland 😛 What's more is that after I get back from this trip, I have my parents visit to look forward to at the end of the month. But after they leave, I will be staying put for a while (I think!) and don't expect any other visitors (but one never knows!) so that should free up some of my time and energy to commit to blogging. 

Biscotti known also as cantuccini, are Italian almond biscuits that originated in the city of Prato. The word originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning "twice-cooked". It encompassed oven-baked goods that were baked twice, so they became very dry and could be stored for long periods of time. Biscotti are oblong-shaped, dry and crunchy biscuits that can be enjoyed as is or served alongside a beverage (traditionally, sweet fortified wine such as Vin Santo).

Not everyone has a thing for biscotti. They may be considered as glorified rusks to many but modern versions incorporate ingredients and flavours to make them more fancy and interesting. And they are great to dunk in coffee, tea or even plain milk so they can double-up as a mid-morning or evening snack. I swapped the traditional almonds for pistachios and used dried cranberries (which I love!). For flavour, I added fennel powder, cardamom powder and nutmeg to give the biscuits a spice-infused perfume. You may use chocolate, citrus zest, any kind of dried fruit or nut and spice powders such as cinnamon, anise seed and five-spice. 

Don't let the twice-baked tag fool you into thinking these biscuits are fiddly. They are truly simple to make, do not require any special cooking equipment and are easily customizable (you can control the amount of sugar and the flavorings to suit your preference). Moreover, biscotti can last for eternity! Well, not exactly eternity but you get what I mean right? 😆 Since they are baked twice, there is little to no moisture in them and can keep as room temperature for several weeks. I stored mine in an air-tight box and kept them on the dining table and they were gone in no time. These biscuits also make for the perfect edible gifts. 

I'm off to finish sorting, packing and making never-ending lists! I'll be back with more stuff real soon. Meanwhile, if you have absolutely nothing else to do and bored out of your mind, you can always catch snippets of my home trip on Instagram 😛

Ciao 🙋