Vegetarian Concoctions

September 21, 2006

Khaman

GUJARAT. The place. The beauty. The people. The language. The festivals. The food. What can I say? I can never get enough of it. I spent most of my growing years in Ahmedabad and Baroda. This place has a rustic charm that you learn to love. The simplicity, straightforwardness and hospitality of the people you learn to respect. The language in its various forms is beautiful. The colors of the festivals especially garba during Navratri is enchanting and the food….oh I am lost for words now. A lot of people from other places do not like the sweet that goes into every food item that is prepared, but the taste grows on you slowly and it stays. In fact a lot of times, preparations do not taste as good without a little bit of the sweet ingredient – Sugar!

Khaman, is one of my favourite Guju preparations – more commonly and wrongly called dhokla in other parts of the nation. Dhokla is very different from khaman and I will blog about it some other time. But for now, here is an easy khaman recipe that I hope you will all make and enjoy. I got this recipe from Tarla dalal’s site and modified it a little bit.

Besan (Chickpea flour)        1 cup

Rava (Sooji)                      1 1/2 tbsp

Citric acid crystals               1/2 tsp

Ginger, chilli paste               1 tbsp

Salt                                   1 tsp

Sugar                                2 1/2 tsp

Baking soda                       1 1/4 tsp

For the garnish

Oil                                     1 1/2 tbsp

Mustard seeds (rai)             2 tsp

Hing                                  a pinch

Green chillies                       2-3 nos

Coriander leaves (cilantro)     2-3 tbsp

Grated coconut (optional)     2 tsp

Seasme seeds (til) (optional) 1 tsp

Water                                  1 cup

Mix all the ingredients except the baking soda. Add about 3/4 cup of water. I usually grind about a tsp of ginger and 1 chilli in 3/4 cup of water since I never buy ginger-chilli paste. The batter should be about the consistancy of dosa batter. Add little more water if required. There are two ways of preparing the khaman, steaming or microwaving. Microwaving is easier but khaman tends to become too dry and rubbery if you keep it out long (2-3 hrs). I would recommend microwaving only if you want to eat it up as soon as you prepare it.

Steaming: Apply some oil to a deep, flat bottomed stainless steel vessel (like a cake pan) that fits into your pressure cooker. Pour some water into the cooker and let it boil up. Once the water boils, add the baking soda to the batter and whip it up. It should froth up. Pour it into the prepared vessel to half the height (about 3/4 inch). Remember, the batter is going to rise up further and it needs some space. If you think the amount of batter is too much for your vessel’s capacity, just do it in batches and make sure you add the baking soda just before steaming each batch. Place it into the cooker at an elevated level making sure no water gets into it from the sides. Close the cooker and let it steam for about 10 minutes. Do not put the weight on the cooker. (This is done just like idlis).

Microwaving: Use a plastic/glass container that has a flat bottom and apply oil it. Add the baking soda to the batter and half-fill the container. Microwave for 4 minutes.

After steaming/microwaving, do the needle test and make sure it comes out clean. Let the khaman cool down and then transfer it to a plate and cut it into large squares. The original recipe by tarla dalal called for 1 1/2 tsp of eno fruit salt instead of salt and soda. Again, if you use eno, add it right before steaming or microwaving.If you have microwaved it, sprinkle some water on the khaman. For the garnish, heat up some oil and add mustard seeds. After they splutter, add hing and chillies and then pour it over the prepared khaman. Decorate with cilantro, coconut and til and you are done.

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