With summer temperatures hovering at 100 degrees, I am preparing simple meals that can be prepared quickly without heating up the kitchen. I have modified the standard Vegetable Rice recipe to incorporate popular summer vegetables. I include zucchini and carrots that can be found in abundance in many back yards or at farmers’ markets in my Summer Spiced Rice.

Summer Spiced Rice

Summer Spiced Rice is an easy to make, delicious and healthy vegetarian recipe that uses fresh summer vegetables and Indian spices to flavor the rice.

This versatile recipe for Summer Spiced Rice can be served as the main course for lunch or as a side with dinner. I like it with grilled salmon and grilled chicken since their flavors are light.

Summer Spiced Rice can be prepared in about 20 minutes. While the basmati rice cooks with whole Indian spices, the vegetables are cooked and spiced in another pan. I grate the zucchini and carrot, and slice the onion thinly to reduce the time needed to cook them. I add a cup of cooked chickpeas to the pot provide protein and create a balanced meal. While the vegetables cook, cumin, coriander and garam masala are added for a light Indian flavor. One thinly sliced green chile adds a tiny amount of heat to the finished dish.

Summer Spiced Rice with Salmon

Summer Spiced Rice with Salmon

Just before I serve Summer Spiced Rice, I top it with a thinly sliced green onion for contrasting flavor and texture. The zucchini and carrot provide a light crunch against the smooth rice and chickpeas. This dish is it not heavily spiced so it pairs well with any menu.

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.

 

Homemade Indian rice noodles

Homemade Indian rice noodles

 

Equipment

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.

Ingredients for Indian rice noodles and noodle press.

Ingredients for Indian rice noodles and noodle press.

 

 

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.

 

Tips

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.

 

Dough and press for Indian rice noodles.

Dough and press for Indian rice noodles.

 

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.

 

Indian rice noodles ready to be steamed.

Indian rice noodles ready to be steamed.

 

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.

 

Check out my recipes for Sevai and Idiyappam.

 

Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips.

 

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This month I thought I would focus on two of my favorite recipes using rice noodles that are most popular in my household. They are very simple dishes but very tasty.

 

Technically Sevaka (Malayalam), or Sevai (Tamil), is considered a Tiffin, an afternoon snack that is served with tea and, of course, coconut chutney on the side. It can be served any time of the day but I prefer it for breakfast since it has a very mild flavor. It is also fantastic as a main item or as a side dish instead of rice for a simple meal of dal with rice. I serve it as often as I can because I feel as though I am making something special instead of plain rice.

 

Sevai or Sevaka is a popular rice noodle dish in South India.

Sevai or Sevaka is a popular rice noodle dish in South India.


 

Sevai are thin rice noodles that are pressed, steamed and then broken into bits before they are seasoned with urad dal, mustard seeds, dried red chilies and curry leaves that have been fried in a little bit of oil. The best part of making this dish is that there is two ways to make it:

 

  • Easy – Use store bought rice noodles that you simply boil. They can be found at any Indian grocery store and are very inexpensive.
  • Authentic – Make your own rice noodles from scratch using rice flour. Making the dough takes very little time but the process involves several steps. (This is a great weekend activity.)

 

The basic recipe for Sevai can be changed for variety by adding different ingredients, including: tomatoes, coconut, lemon juice, peanuts, cashews, green chiles and spices. Adding jaggery (or brown sugar), ghee or melted butter, coconut, cardamom and raisins, a simple but delicious dessert can be made with minimal effort.

 

Idiyappam (Malayalam) and Noolputtu (Tamil) is a side dish served instead of rice with a curry since it doesn’t have any seasonings or spices. Idiyappam are thin rice noodles that are pressed into Idli molds with grated coconut then steamed. They make a beautiful presentation when many of them are arranged on a plate when served.  They are often called string hoppers because they do, in fact, look like small piles of string. I love to serve them with Malabar Egg Curry or any spicy curry and coconut chutney.

 

Idiyappam or Noolputtu are popular rice noodles in south India.

Idiyappam or Noolputtu are popular rice noodles in south India.

 

Try these recipes soon! They are some of the first Indian dishes my children loved because they weren’t hot and the tiny noodles were fun to pick up and eat with their fingers. Enjoy!

Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips.

 

All text and photographic content are property of KachisKitchen.com and are not to be used without permission of the author.

A few weeks ago I craved a dish that I had banned from my table while I was on a diet last year – Sevai. A very simple dish made with rice noodles, it is easy to make in very little time and disappears quickly. Since I was limiting my intake of rice- and wheat-based carbs, I tried to exclude recipes with these ingredients for the longest time. The result is that I am now craving this tasty dish. Guess what we are having for dinner tonight…

 

In thinking about noodles and Indian food I realized that they play a very important role in this diverse and mature cuisine. In fact they have been part of regional Indian cuisine for over two thousand years in some form or the other. Made with rice, wheat, lentils or cornstarch they are served as a very simple dish or part of something more elaborate, at any meal as a snack, a side dish or even a dessert. The best part of Indian noodles is they are as much fun to make as they are to eat.

Rice Noodles

Rice noodles are found in many Indian snacks, or tiffins. A very simple dough is made with soaked rice that is then ground or rice flour that is roasted, and then mixed with water. A special press is used to make these noodles. Kachi’s mother had an antique brass one with a wooden handle that you would press to extrude the noodles. Mine is stainless steel and looks like a cookie press or a pepper mill with a crank on the top to lower the plunger. Inside the press is an interchangeable disk that gives the noodles different shapes.

 

Idiyappam or Noolputtu are popular rice noodles in south India.

Idiyappam or Noolputtu are popular rice noodles in south India.

Idiyappam (Malayalam) and Noolputtu (Tamil) are small piles of thin rice noodles that are steamed with a bit of grated coconut and served as a snack with Egg Curry and Coconut Chutney. In Kerala, these tasty morsels are considered to be similar to the Appam that looks like a rice pancake.

 

Sevaka (Malayalam) and Sevai (Tamil) are similar thin rice noodles that are pressed, steamed and then broken into bits before they are seasoned with mustard seeds, dried red chilies, urad dal and curry leaves that have been fried in a bit of oil. Some recipes call for the dough to be steamed before the noodles are extruded through the press. I cannot detect a difference in taste so I follow the recipe from my mother-in-law.

 

Wheat Noodles

Needle-thin noodles made from wheat are found across India in side dishes and desserts. In all of the research I have done, I haven’t found that people make these noodles at home but buy them ready-made. They are so delicate that they make any dish special.

 

Vermacelli noodles made from wheat are popular in Uppuma and Payasam.

Vermacelli noodles made from wheat are popular in Uppuma and Payasam.

 

Vermicelli Uppuma is one of the tastiest dishes in all of Indian cooking. The lightly browned noodles that have been fried in ghee then boiled are mixed with a tasty assortment of vegetables and seasoned with mustard seeds, urad dal, Bengal gram dal, cashew nuts and curry leaves. It is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a weekend lunch.

 

Semiya (Vermicelli) Payasam is the most popular desert in South India with the delicate wheat noodles lightly fried in butter before adding them to the sweet payasam spiced with cardamom, raisins and nuts. It is served for the most important dinners including birthdays, anniversaries and other important events.

Lentil Noodles

Sev are noodles made from chickpea flour, extruded through the press with the smallest holes into hot oil and deep-fried to become a crunchy treat. Many varieties are available with different spices and ingredients added to give them unique flavors. Varieties of sev with different seasonings are incorporated into many Indian snack foods like mixture and dal mooth. Sev noodles are also sprinkled on top of papadi as a garnish for chaat and other North Indian street food recipes. Word of warning: These are so delicious that they are addictive and can lead to weight gain. I confess that I love these snacks and eat them too often!

 

Simply changing the disk in the press from the one with tiny holes to one with wide slits or the one with a star shape creates entirely different noodles. South Indian snacks Murukkus and Pokavada are made with a combination of rice and one or more of the following lentil flours: green gram dal, urad dal and Bengal gram dal. Ribbon pokavada are small strips of fried dough seasoned with red chili powder and asafetida. They look just like FRITOS® Corn Chips except they are crunchier and taste far less salty or greasy. Many different recipes exist for Murukkus; mine are made by mixing rice with various lentils, grinding them and adding cumin seeds or asafetida for flavor.

 

Noodles made with lentil or dal flour are fried for popular Indian snacks.

Noodles made with lentil or dal flour are fried for popular Indian snacks.

Fried noodle snacks can be made at home as part of a weekend family activity, however, every Indian grocery store has a full aisle dedicated in Indian snack foods (just like the potato chip aisle at Wal-Mart) with many brands and varieties available. I find that even though I did not include any snack food on my grocery list, several bags of these snacks land in my cart each time I visit the store. The best ones in the world can be found at Grand Snacks in Chennai, India.

 

Cornstarch Noodles

The fourth variety of noodles is made from cornstarch that gives the noodles a transparent appearance. The method for making these noodles is different from the other processes in that the dough is heated during the preparation process and then pushed through the press into a cold-water bath. Since this type of noodle is used in Falooda, a popular drink in India, sugar is added. (Look for more information on Falooda in a post in a few weeks.) Sometimes arrowroot, a starch extracted from a rhizome and available in Indian grocery stores, is used instead of cornstarch to make these noodles.

 

Noodles made with cornstarch make delicate noodles for the Indian sweet, Falooda.

Noodles made with cornstarch make delicate noodles for the Indian sweet, Falooda.

 

In my next post, I will share my recipes for Sevai and Idyappam which are fantastic as main items for breakfast or late afternoon snack, or as a side dish instead of rice with any simple meal with dal. Enjoy!

 

Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips.

 

All text and photographic content are property of KachisKitchen.com and are not to be used without permission of the author.