Making Indian rice noodles from scratch sounds, at first, like a daunting task. Actually they are easier to make than wheat pasta! Just a few special items are needed in your kitchen: a special press, a steamer, some muscle and some friends.
A special press is required to make Indian rice noodles, whether it is rice, wheat or lentil flour based and it has many different names: sev sancha, sevai press, murukku press, noodle press, shavige press, and, perhaps, many other names. Many different varieties are available. From the original ones with a wooden plunger that is pressed through a brass tube, to the brass or stainless steel ones that use a crank to push the plunger and the modern steel ones with a trigger to push the plunger. I have seen photos of one model that rests on a stand that, I
think, would make the noodle pressing process easier. Most of the various presses come with several discs with different size holes that can be inserted into the tube to make different sizes and shapes of noodles or sev snacks. You cannot go wrong with any of these options.
I have a simple steel sev noodle mold with a crank. It is inexpensive and is readily available online. I looked at several local Indian grocery stores that carry basic kitchen equipment but could not find one. I quickly gave up and ordered one online from Om India Plaza at Amazon.com. It arrived very quickly and the company was very helpful.
The second item that is needed is a steamer, electric or stovetop. I use an electric steamer with removable trays but any method, including a basket in a pan on the stove works just as well.
When making the noodle dough it must be kneaded after the rice flour and hot water have been stirred together. Let it cool a bit first so you can handle the dough easily. It takes a few minutes to get the right consistency of dough. It cannot be too soft or runny and it cannot too tough or hard. If it is very firm like Play Doh, it will not extrude through the press very easily so mix in a bit more hot water so it is flexible. If it is too soft, knead about a tablespoon of rice flour into the dough to make it firmer.
Spray the inside of the press with a bit of oil so the dough does not stick. Take care not to get oil on the outside of the tube as it will be very difficult to hold when you are turning the crank to extrude the noodles.
The most important part of making good rice noodles is to have some fun with it. I always make them when my kids are home to help mix and knead the dough. They love to squeeze the dough through the press and make creative piles of noodles. Once the noodles have been steamed, they tend to sample more noodles than they leave for serving at mealtime. I can’t complain because we have so much fun together.
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