September 4, 2013

Vella Seedai

Vella Seedai is the sweeter counterpart of uppu seedai, usually made for Gokulashtami (celebration of Lord Krishna's Birthday). Unlike uppu seedai, these sweet marbles are hard & crunchy on the out-side, but soft & sweet on the inside. Of all the Gokulashtami snacks that my mom makes, vella seedai is my all-time favorite. Vella seedai usually tastes great from the next day.

My mom's recipe suggests boiling jaggery syrup to two thread consistency and then use it for making the dough. My mom also warned about the balls breaking in the oil (though, not as dangerous as uppu seedai bursting in oil) mainly due to the quality & quantity of jaggery (or) jaggery syrup's consistency.

- Incase, the balls starts to break & dissolve when fried in oil, mix a tsp (or) more (as required) of roasted rice flour with the dough until vella seedai doesn't break in oil.
- Also, before making balls with the entire dough, test fry just one ball in oil to ensure that it doesn't break and then go about making rest of the balls. Helps in saving time & tension.

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 2-3 hrs
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 20 - 24 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 - 2 tbsp
Jaggery - 1.5 cups (grated)
Cardamom - 2 pods (powder the seeds)
Butter - 1 tbsp
Vegetable oil - for frying
Ghee - for greasing hands (if required)

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 tsp 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 changes to brown. Tip: In my mom's words "நல்லா செவக்க வறுக்கணும்". Let it cool.

Melt jaggery in 3/4 cup of water. Pour into a thick bottomed pan, and boil until it forms a thick syrup. To test the thickness of the syrup, drop syrup into a cup of cold water and you should be able to roll it into a ball. When the jaggery syrup has reached the required consistency, add cardamom powder, stir well and remove from heat.

In a big bowl, mix rice flour, butter, grated coconut well to combine. Pour the jaggery syrup onto this mixture little by little and knead it into a smooth pliable dough. Tip: Make the dough just before you are ready to make vella seedai. Don't let the dough sit for too long.

Grease your hands with ghee. Take little 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 an hour upto 12 hrs (overnight).

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.

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