05 September, 2007

Akki Shavige with Rasayana & Menthe Chutney

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Akki Shavige with Rasayana & Menthe Chutney

She was sleeping soundly, smiling in her sleep while she dreamt of chasing colourful butterflies in garden. When the persistent sun shone brightly on her face, little girl with pigtails sighed and snuggled back under the covers, blissfully embracing slumber. The mild caress of heavenly aroma coming from kitchen nudged her gently to open her heavy eyelids. Dragging her feet on cool marble floor with her favourite doll tucked under one arm and blinking her eyes to the golden glow of sunshine streaming from high ventilator and windows, she blissfully inhaled the wonderful aroma of ground coffee beans and spices. The sight of her mother with long hair tied in a loose knot adorned with pearls of water, standing in kitchen stirred the feeling of love and happiness. She ran and hugged her mother inhaling the heady perfume of her herbal soap and shampoo. Mother gently lifted her daughter planting kisses on her daughter’s blushed chubby cheeks and placed her away from heat, close to window where she could see the world waking up to the glorious sunshine. As her mother churned delicious food in lightening speed, little girl watched her dad entering the kitchen with special device to make one of her favourite food. As her dad and mom smiled at each other knowingly, little girl sat on the floor cross legged with a twinkle in her eyes as she watched her dad rotate the noodles presser which turned the steaming rice dough into thin, stringy white noodles. She smiled brightly at her parents looking over the food, simple home food, food that made her happy and content.

Yes, I am talking about my favourite breakfast item, Rice Semige/Shavige. Also known as Sevai or Santhakai in Tamil and Idiappam or Noolappam in Malayalam, Shavige is made from rice and coconut in my native Mangalore and it is usually served with sweetened coconut milk and spicy chutney or sambar. This was the only time when my mother would allow my dad to help her in kitchen as it required an extra pair of helping hand to make these stringy rice noodles. While my mom inserted the steaming balls of rice dough in the Sevai container and rotated the plate kept under the container collecting Shavige, dad would quickly rotate the sturdy handle in clock-wise direction. This Shavige Presser although might look like something out of medieval torture device to some people is a must device in every house-hold in Mangalore. Back in my Ajji’s house she had wooden Shavige Presser which looks quite different to what we have now. Instead of rotating the handle, the wooden one would press down the dough like hand water pumps in rural India. Unlike my Ajji and Amma, I use simple Chakkli Presser to make Shavige. Chakkli presser works fine for two growling tummies and moreover it’s quite easy to clean. But I must add that rotating Shavige Presser is equlivalent to working out those muscles in gym, so will not get enough of arm exercise when using Chakkli press ;)

Akki Shavige with Menthe/Methi Chutney and Baale Hannu Rasayana is my contribution to this month’s RCI-Karnataka hosted by our blog queen Asha of Foodie’s Hope and also to this month’s JFI-Banana hosted by lovely Mandira of Ahaar.

Akki Shavige (Rice Noodles)
Prep Time: 30 mins (excluding soaking time)
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 2-3

1 cup Rice
1 cup Fresh/Frozen Coconut
2 tbsp Oil, preferably Coconut Oil
Salt to taste
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Akki Shavige

Wash and soak rice in 2 cups of water for 4-5 hours or overnight.
Drain and grind this rice with grated coconut and salt to taste adding little water at a time to very smooth paste. Note that there shouldn’t be any lumps and the paste should be silky smooth. Usually my Ajji and Amma make very thin batter of buttermilk consistency but I grind it to Dosa batter consistency which works fine for me.
Apply coconut oil to heavy bottomed kadai/wok covering it well. Pour the batter in this wok and keep mixing this batter in medium flame till all the water evaporates and it turns to a thick lump of dough.
Switch off the gas and start making big lemon sized balls by applying little cold water to stop it from sticking to your hand.
Steam cook these rice balls in a steamer or pressure cooker without putting its weight for about 10 minutes.
Place two steaming rice balls in Shavige presser or Chakkli maker and press the noodles. Place these noodles in a banana leaf or wet cloth and let it cool. This noodle needs to be cooled down to hold their shape. Serve these noodles with Chutney, sweetened Coconut Milk or Sambar. You can also make Tamarind or Lemon Rice Noodles with the leftovers.
Check Shilpa or Aayi's Recipes and Manjula of Dalitoy's recipes for Shavige where they use Shavige Press here and here. And also check here for Viji of Vcuisine's recipe for Vella, Lemon and Ulundhu Sevai using Chakkli Press.

My Ajji and Amma usually served Akki Shavige with Sweetened Coconut Milk or Rasayana and Menthe Chutney. Rasayana (Rasa means Juice/essence/flavour/taste in Sanskrit) is basically a sweetened coconut milk mixed with chopped Bananas or Mangoes depending on seasonal availability of fruits. Freshly extracted Coconut milk is flavoured with Jaggery and pinch of Cardamom and made wholesome by adding chopped bananas or mangoes.

Rasayana (Banana in Sweetened Coconut Milk)
Prep Time: 20-25 mins
Cooking Time: -
Serves: 2-3

1 cup Bananas, quartered and sliced
1½ cup freshly extracted Coconut Milk (big no-no to Canned Coconut milk)
1-2 tbsp grated Jaggery, adjust according to taste
2 Green Cardamoms, skins removed and seeds crushed
1 tsp roasted Sesame Seeds (Optional)
Small pinch of Salt

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Dissolve grated Jaggery in coconut milk and mix all the ingredients.
Serve cold with Akki Shavige or drink as it is.

You can use ripe sweet mango in place of bananas.
Replace coconut milk with milk and add 2-3 tbsp of banana or mango puree to give it thick base.

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Akki Shavige with Rasayana & Menthe Chutney

Methi/Fenugreek seeds are one of the most importance spices in Mangalorean cuisine. My Ajji would soak few methi seeds in buttermilk and make us drink after heavy meals as methi is good for digestion. Read more about benefits of Methi here and here. Menthe Chutney is one dish which is full of different flavours. Bitter methi is ground with creamy coconut and spicy chilli and then cooked with dash of jaggery to give it little sweet flavour.

Menthe Chuteny (Methi Seeds Chuteny)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10-15 mins
Serves: 2-3

1 tsp Methi/Fenugreek Seeds
1 cup grated Fresh/Frozen Coconut
3-4 Dry Red Chillies
1-2 tbsp Jaggery, adjust acc to taste
1 tsp Oil
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
Few Curry Leaves
Pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
Salt to taste
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Menthe Chutney

Dry roast methi and broken red chillies in a pan for around 1 minute till you get nice aroma of roasted methi.
Grind sautéed spices with coconut adding little water at a time to smooth paste.
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard, hing and curry leaves.
Once mustard starts to pop and sputter, add ground paste, jaggery, salt to taste and ½ cup of water.
Cook it on a low flame for 10-15 minutes stirring in between. Serve hot with steamed rice or akki shavige.