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Cucumber Pepper Idli

Posted May 14 2009 5:01pm
The markets here are now flooded with deliciously crunchy fresh cucumbers. There is nothing more mouthwatering when the sweltering heat of the summers here hit you. Whenever I see stacks of fresh green cucumbers at the market, I tend to buy them in bulk by the kilo; I simply can't resist them. Cucumbers are very welcome at home and I include it in raitas and salads.

However, thereisthis problem of getting easily tired of the same fare all the time. So while in the beginning cucumber salads disappear pretty quickly off the dinner table, there soon comes a time when it is the last dish to empty, sometimes never emptying at all. There is nothing more sad to contemplate than a leftover salad stashed in the refrigerator. It begins to wither, shedding water and looking not as appetizing as it was earlier. You really know in the back of your head that youmustconsume it quickly but somehow you just can't get yourself to do anything about it.

This happened to me sometime back. A particular salad of chopped cucumber laced with freshly ground pepper found itself languishing in a corner of my refrigerator. I then used it up by adding it to rice rava and making idlis out of them. That was when I discovered the pleasantly delicious flavor that black pepper imparts to idlis. So I made this again, this time using broken wheat. Now it is a regular at the dinner table.

This is how I made them:

I heated a spoon of oil in a pan. I prepared a seasoning by spluttering half a spoon of mustard seeds. To this I added half a spoon each of urad dal and chana dal, also a few broken peanuts. I let these attain a golden color.

To this I then added chopped curry leaves, stirring them. I then added about one tall cup of broken wheat, roasting it along with the seasoning. I let this roast for about five or six minutes on low flame, stirring now and then. Then I set it aside, allowing it to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, I grated one medium-sized cucumber. If it is really tender, I grate it along with the skin, otherwise I peel it first. There are varieties of cucumbers. Some types shed a lot of water when grating them; if you feel this is too much, try chopping them into small pieces instead. Whichever way you do it, don't discard any of the water (it is full of nutrients), collect it all in a bowl along with the grated cucumber. To this add half a teaspoon of black pepper powder. Also add chopped herbs of choice: mint or coriander leaves or dill leaves, whatever is available at the time. Coriander leaves go well with the combined flavors. For variation you can also throw in half a chopped onion.

Once the seasoned broken wheat has cooled, add this to the cucumber in the bowl and mix well, allowing the water to be absorbed. Allow it to rest for about five minutes. At this point you can tell if more moisture is needed to form a batter; most likely it will. So add a bit of low-fat yoghurt or buttermilk (yoghurt, being thicker, is preferred), by the spoonful until you are satisfied with the consistency. The batter should not be runny with water separating out of it. The broken wheat swells, still retaining some separateness but sticking together. If you've made rava idlis from scratch before, you'd be able to tell quite easily.

Let the batter rest for just a bit, maybe 15 minutes or so. I then added requisite salt and a quarter teaspoon of Eno fruit salt to give the idlis a lift at the time of steaming, making them softer.

I then packed the batter into idli stands. I steamed these in my pressure cooker for about 15 minutes. Give a little extra time since broken wheat particles are larger than the normal rava and take a little longer to cook.

Serve this hot with a side of chutney.

This entry goes to three culinary events currently running:

1)Think Spice, Think Pepper:Pepper is one of the oldest and most favored spices on earth, and was once upon a time considered so valuable as to be used as an item of exchange during trade (the original black gold before petroleum came into the picture). It has widespread medicinal value, often used to stimulate digestion. It is also used for symptomatic relief for sore throats. Its special sharp tangy flavor is best enjoyed when freshly ground. TheTSTPevent is being hosted by Divya Vikram ofDil Se. TheThink Spiceevent is Sunita's brainchild.

2)A Fruit A Month - Cucumber:I was never more pleased than when I learned this month's chosen item for the AFAM was cucumber. With soaring temperatures, nothing can be more delectable, except maybe chilled watermelons. TheAFAM-Cucumberis being hosted by Neha of Tasty Recipes.AFAMis the brainchild of Maheshwari.

3)Jivha For Ingredients - Wheat:Roma of Roma's Space is hosting theJFI eventthis month and has chosen whole wheat, the staple food of North India. The monthlyJFI eventis the brainchild of Mahanandi.

Updated April 27th:
  • For the JFI roundup, click here.
  • For the TSTP roundup, click here.
  • For the AFAM roundup, click here.
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