July 14, 2013

Patra Reinvented In a New England Malayali Kitchen

The most recent food find in our kitchen is the use of collard greens as steamer to replace banana leaves. While I was growing up in Kerala, there were many dishes that were made using banana leaves. Banana leaves were used for multiple purposes. Sometimes banana leaf would act as a liner for the steaming vessel, and times rice dough is spread on banana leaf to make steamed dumplings (Ilayada). Some other times we make a basket out of banana leaves and pour fermented rice-lentil batter, and steam to make the steamed rice cakes. We recently thought of using collard leaves for some of these recipes. Every week we get fresh bunches of organic collard leaves from our local farmer's market. So I am exploring possibilities to use collard leaves this way. The advantage of using collard leaves is that the leaf itself is edible :).

The recipe for today though interestingly is not something from Kerala, but is something inspired from a Gujarati recipe. This is Patra reinvented in my kitchen. Patra is something I had tasted at the international family festival in my son's school. The original recipe is made by spreading spiced chickpea batter on Colocasia leaves and steaming them.

Here's the recipe for the reinvented version using spiced brown rice batter on collard leaves.

  • Organic collard greens - 1 bunch ( about 12 leaves)
  • Organic brown rice - 1 cup soaked for 6-8 hours
  • Green chilly - 1-2
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tspn
  • Asafoetida - a pinch
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tspn
  • Sea salt - as per taste

  • Drain and grind the rice with salt, and green chilly adding very little water ( just enough for the blender to run).
  • Add salt and the spices and mix well.
  • Wash the collard greens and wipe them with a kitchen towel.
  • Spread one collard leaf with ribbed face up. Take about 2-3 tablespoons of the rice batter and spread evenly on the leaf. Spread one more leaf on top of the first one and repeat the same.
  • Fold from 2 sides and roll as tightly as you can.
  • Repeat with the rest of the leaves and batter.
  • Meanwhile keep a steamer or pasta boiler ready with water boiling.

  • Steam the rolled collard leaves for about 10 minutes.
  • Let it cool down a little bit before slicing.
  • Slice them into 1/2 inch slices. Serve with coconut chutney.

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