19 December, 2011

Indian Semolina Pancakes, Raisin and Currant Chutney, and Kokum Cooler - A This-and-That Snack - A guest post by Susan @ The Well Seasoned Cook

Rava Uttapam (Semolina Pancakes with Raisin and Currant Chutney and Kokum Cooler

This lady friend of mine has very special love affair with legumes. She is the brain behind very popular and wonderful food blog event called My Legume Love Affair or MLLA which will be celebrating its third year anniversary in few weeks’ time! Yes, I am talking about the lovely lady Susan behind the very special and B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L food blog The Well Seasoned Cook (don't you love the name?!). I have known Susan for the past 3 years and I never fail to notice her eye for details which reflects through her stunning food and life photography. It is my greatest pleasure to have Susan here on Monsoon Spice as a guest blogger. Do check and participate in her yet another popular Black and White Wednesday, a culinary food photography event which challenges you to look at vibrant and colourful food in monochrome! Visit her beautiful blog, if you have not already done so, and don’t forget to follow her on Twitter.

Every month or so, I take myself on a journey 10,000 miles away from my home. I get there in fifteen minutes flat without strapping myself into a rocket capsule. My local Indian grocery is but a few towns away via the most congested and convoluted of highways in the U.S. When I step inside the store, I am no longer on American turf, but in a low concrete building pulsing with sitar sounds and piled high with burlap sacks of rice. After shopping there for years, my routine rarely deviates. I always start at the produce, picking up several sachets of curry leaves; handfuls of tiny, twisted green chiles; and a hard, green mango or two. Around the corner, I stop at the wall of dried pulses. Before I round another corner, my little hand basket is heavier by at least five pounds. By the time I've moved on from the flours, my wrist is starting to feel the strain. There is a bag of semolina slumped in the corner of the basket now, with just enough room for something light, dry, and aromatic. I never leave without something light, dry, and aromatic.

The spices are an affair of floor-to-ceiling shelves at least fifteen feet long. It is not a particularly well-organized collection. Cumin seed does not cuddle against its ground self, so my investigation makes many pauses, suggesting me a lost soul among the Indian patrons. But there is method to my slow meandering. I already have almost everything available, but there is always a curiosity among the crinkly cellophane wrappers, and I always take one with me, no matter how puzzling its name or its use. There's tukmuriya (no clue) in my cupboard, and sunda vattal, too. I'm having better luck with black kokum. There's no English translation for it, a plum-like fruit, unique to an Indian evergreen, but as a guest blogger for Sia of Monsoon Spice, I'm know I'm just singing to the choir.

Rava Uttapam (Semolina Pancakes)

Rava Uttapam (Semolina Pancakes)
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins

Serves: 4 people
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Moderately/Very Spicy, depending on number of chiles used, and if seeds and membranes are intact
Recipe Inspiration: Adapted from a recipe in The Everything Indian Cookbook by Monica Bhide 
Shelf Life: Serve immediately; best fresh and hot, but can be briefly reheated next day in microwave after a light brushing with ghee or oil.

1 cup semolina
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup filtered water
2 teaspoons ghee or oil, divided
½ cup fresh coriander leaves without stems
1/3 cup small-diced yellow onion
4-6 fresh hot red chiles, stemmed and slivered, seeds and membranes intact for more heat
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together semolina, baking soda , and salt. In a small bowl, whisk yogurt with water until smooth. Add to dry ingredients, beating well with whisk until batter is smooth. Cover to prevent drying out; reserve for at least 30 minutes. Batter will thicken more over time.
  2. Arrange coriander leaves, diced onion, chile slivers, and cumin seeds in a plate, separate from each other.
  3. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon ghee or oil over medium heat (about 12 seconds). Using a ladle or measuring cup, pour 1/4 cup batter into skillet to form each pancake, gently spreading batter into 4-inch rounds. Do not crowd them. After about 20 seconds, and while surfaces of pancakes are still partially wet, arrange with your fingers a small amount of each of the topping ingredients. Press them in lightly with the back of a spoon. Quickly and carefully flip pancakes over with a turner. Use the turner to press the pancakes into the hot surface. After another 20 seconds, transfer pancakes to plate, covering to keep warm and moist. Prepare each batch the same way. Add second teaspoon ghee or oil when skillet becomes dry (after half the pancakes are made).
  4. Serve immediately with chutney on top, folding pancakes and eating them with your fingers.

Golden Raisin and Currant Chutney

Golden Raisin and Currant Chutney – My own recipe
Makes: Approximately 2 cups
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner 
Spice Level: Moderately Spicy
Recipe Source: My own recipe
Shelf life: 3 days, refrigerated; improves with age/make early in day before serving with pancakes

1 teaspoon flavorless oil
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon kolonji seeds
½ teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
3 whole green cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
2 gloves fresh garlic, chopped, but not minced
2 cup water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons soft, crumbled jaggery, demerara or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced candied ginger root, or plain fresh, peeled ginger root
1 cup dried golden raisins
½ cup dried currants
  1. In a medium saucepan, warm oil over low heat (5 seconds). Add the first 6 spices. Mix and sizzle until fragrant (1 minute). Add garlic. Stir to coat with spices. Add water and vinegar. Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. The chutney will be very watery.
  2. Bring back to boil, then lower again to simmer. Stir occasionally while simmering until 3/4 of liquid has boiled away. (It will take at least 30 minutes.) Be patient; raising heat will risk scorching. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Chutney will turn thicker and syrupy as it cools.

Kokum Cooler

Kokum Cooler
Serves: 4 in ice-filled tumblers
Cooking Time: 2 hours soaking (very dark, hard kokum needs this long to soak); 5 minutes additional preparation
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: No spice heat; flavor is quite sour (vaguely similar to tamarind) when unsweetened; some recipes call for cumin or other spices
Recipe Inspiration: Several general recipes
Shelf Life: 5 days, refrigerated

1 cup dried black kokum
2 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons jaggery, demerara or dark brown sugar, or more to taste
2 cups icy-cold filtered water
Crushed ice
  1. In a small bowl, pour boiling water over kokum, ensuring that it is fully covered. Occasionally crush kokum with potato masher to hasten softening. Color of water will be golden at first, eventually darkening to an amber, purplish pink.
  2. Strain the mixture into a large bowl. Discard kokum. Add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Stir in ice-cold water. Divide evenly into 4 tumblers filled with crushed ice.


  1. A beautiful post by Susan! Those pancakes look divine and they chutney is very tempting.



  2. Oohhhhhhhh it's a wonderful guest post by susan !

  3. Thank u Susan for ur wonderful guest post. The recipe for semolina uttapam or pancake will surely grace many kitchens. N also I'm eager to try ur raisin n currant chutney:)

  4. Have known Susan for a while and love her take on food, and her photography even mre. :)
    Interesting chutney with the Uthappam.

  5. What a wonderful post Susan! I love the chutney and am bookmarking it.
    kokam / cooler is the perfect drink for summer as it cools internally.

    Tukmaria is also called subja or tulsi beej, again cools the body/ internal heat, it needs to be soaked in water for a few minutes.It is added to Falooda. I usually use it like this, Cold milk + Rose syrup ( available in the Indian store, kalverts brand) and 1 tbsp or so of the tukmaria seeds, mix and sip! aaaah!

  6. Beautiful! :) and what a different way to serve sweet chutney with uttapams, we usually do it with savoury chutneys (actually Indian chutneys are all savoury, the sweet ones go by different names). My favourite chutney is tomato chutney - tomatoes and onions lightly roasted with a couple of tbsp of chana dal and urad dal and 3 red chiilies, then ground together.

    The kokum sherbet looks like it has jewels sparkling inside! :)

  7. great post susan! absolutly gorgeous, i d love to have the semolina pancakes right now. I was looking on how to make kokum cooler. we usualy buy it in the market but that one isnt that good. the ones in maharashtra are killer!

  8. wonderful post ,very tempting recipes,specially loved the raisin and currant chutney ..will try this soon..
    Your blog is superb!!!!!fabulous recipes and great cpictures..

  9. wow awesome recipe and luv the presentation....my first time here...and could not stop looking at your recipes luv it!
    SYF&HWS - Cook With SPICES" Series - CARDAMOM (Dec 5th to Jan 5th)

  10. What beautiful colors on the Semolina Uttappam..perfect for the Season! I am a frequest visitor/reader of The Well seasoned cook- Susan's beautiful Blog!!Love it

  11. Sia hope you are having a fabulous time with the dumpling! So good to see Susan here. The peak perfection as always. So delightful to see these cute little things she came up with and the wonderful combination of kokum and the raisin chutney. Photographs are delicious and beautiful!

  12. Wonderful combination of delicious uttahapams with sweet chutney and a lovely drink...perfect breakfast!! And so nice to see someone so far away using the little known Indian gems of ingredients, since I myself have never used kokum..beautiful post!


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