September 1, 2013

Uppu Seedai

"Do you really have to try it?" is the first question that my mom asked when I asked her the recipe for seedai. Seedai, a crunchy south-Indian savory snack not only look like "little bombs" but act like one too. Yes, seedai is so notorious for exploding in the oil while frying, for various reasons. With few tricks up your sleeve, you can avoid the big mess that these little bombs are known to create.

Even after loads of caution & advice from my mom, I wanted to try my hand at these little wonders. I had no clue as to how my first 'seedai' experience will go, but I felt like 'a kid bursting crackers for the first time'. I cleared out the area around frying pan, dropped the first batch into oil, took back 5-6 steps away from the stove and was watching eagerly for it to burst.... or may be not?!!?!? Though it was a great relief after the first batch came out fine, i was extremely terrified until I finished the last batch of seedai.

Thanks to my mom, for she helped my first-time experience with seedai come out in flying colors. No blasting of seedai, no splashing of hot oil, no bad experience, only teeny-tiny, tasty & crunchy nibbles that I couldn't stop with just one!

- Sieve rice flour (be it home-made / store-bought) twice / thrice to separate odd sized tiny particles. The goal is to have fine, evenly textured flour.
- Sieve urad dal flour also twice / thrice to separate odd sized tiny particles. The goal is to have fine, evenly textured flour.
- Do not roll the balls too tightly. Just roll them gently between your palms into smooth rounds.
- Dry the rolled seedai completely for atleast an hour before frying them in oil.
- I have not tried this personally, but have read in many blogs that pricking every ball with a tooth-pick can help avoid the bursting issue.

Funny thoughts on seedai
If the first ball and the last ball of seedai that you roll are of the same size, you are praise-worthy of your patience, definitely!!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 2-3 hrs
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 100 nos (approx)

Raw rice - 1 cup (I used sona masoori rice)
Whole urad dal - 1/5 cup (a little less than 1/4 cup)
Finely grated coconut - 1 tbsp
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Butter - 1.5 tbsp
Vegetable oil - for frying
Coconut oil - for greasing the hands

Wash & soak raw rice in water for 45 mins - 1 hr.

Dry roast urad dal until golden brown. Let it cool and grind it into a fine powder.

Drain and spread it in a clean cloth / kitchen towel to absorb excess water. Let it dry completely, for about 30 mins. Tip: Drying under the sun is quick & effective.

Using a mixer, grind the rice into very fine powder. Mix to combine 1 tbsp of urad dal powder with rice flour.

Using a sieve, separate finely powdered rice from coarse rice. Sieve the flour twice; Do not press/rub the flour through the sieve. Grind the collected coarse rice and sieve it one more time to filter finely powdered rice. Discard the coarsely powdered rice. I got about 2 cups of rice flour for 1 cup of rice. Tip: Skip all the steps above and just use 2 cups of store-bought rice flour and sieve it twice.

Dry roast the sieved flour until nice aroma wafts and the color slightly changes. Tip: In my mom's words "light-a செவக்க வறுக்கணும்".

In a big bowl, mix rice flour, salt, butter, grated coconut, hing well to combine. Add water little by little and knead it into a smooth pliable dough. Tip: Make the dough just before you are ready to make cheedai. Don't let the dough sit for too long.

Grease your hands with coconut oil. Take a pinch of dough, roll it into a smooth ball on a kitchen towel/ clean cloth. Repeat the same for the entire dough and let the balls dry for atleast an hour. Try to roll the balls in same size as frying time will the same. Refer the video to know how to roll equally sized cheedai.

Heat oil in a frying pan on medium flame, and fry them until golden brown. Tip: Watch out for the boiling sound (தப்பளாக் கொதி in Tamil) to remove them from the oil.

Drain excess oil in a dry kitchen towel, and store it in a air-tight container after it cools completely.

Check out the video to learn how to roll equally sized seedai!

Linking this to Gayathri's Cook Spot - Tribute to my mom - Special Event.