April 14, 2014

Vishu Specials - Vishu Katta & Vishu Kanji

Happy Vishu to all Malayali friends and readers. I am sharing some Vishu specials today. These are not vishu dishes that I grew up eating, but have read about and heard about, and got to know more about them from fellow Malayali bloggers. The internet is so cool that way - you get to know about and adapt traditions that you never knew existed :-). We love almost everything that is made with coconut and here I am introducing two simple Vishu dishes, the Vishu Kanji and Vishu Katta. We love these simple dishes that are served as Vishu breakfast in some parts of Kerala and now it is part of our tradition as well.

Vishu Katta:

This is a simple dish made by cooking rice in coconut milk. Originally made with onakkalari, (raw unpolished rice) which is used for special preparations like this and also as an offering in temples. It is supposed to be served with jaggery syrup, but as my readers know, Quick'n'healthy does not promote sugar unless it is really required. This one tastes very simple and awesome without the addition of sweetness, so my recommendation is to keep it just as it is :)

  • Red rice - 1/2 cup (I used organic Madagascar pink rice)
  • White rice - 1/2 cup (I used organic jasmine rice)
  • Thick homemade coconut cream * - 1/2 cup
  • Homemade coconut milk* - 1 cup
  • Homemade light coconut milk*  - 2 cups 
  • Cumin seeds - 1 Tbs
  • Fresh ginger root - 2 Tbs - chopped
  • Himalayan pink salt - as per taste
  • Virgin Coconut oil - 1 Tbs

  • Wash and soak both rice for 8-12 hours. 
  • Start by boiling the light coconut milk and add drained rice and cook on medium heat. Cook covered paying attention not to burn the rice.
  • Meanwhile toast the cumin seeds on medium heat till you they start popping.
  • Chop ginger fine, heat coconut oil and lightly roast the chopped ginger. 
  • Once the rice is 3/4th done, remove the cover, add toasted cumin, roasted ginger, and 1 cup coconut milk and salt. You can do a salt check by tasting the liquid at this point. Cook on low medium heat stirring frequently.
  • In about 20-30 minutes most of coconut milk should be absorbed. Switch of, add the coconut cream and keep stirring for 5-10 more minutes. 
  • Grease a shallow tray or baking dish with coconut oil. You can also line with banana leaf. Spread the cooked rice evenly into the dish. Leave it aside for 30 minutes to an hour to set.
  • Loosen carefully from the sides and cut it into slices. 
  • Serve it just like that or serve it with a pickle or chutney. Enjoy! 

Notes for coconut milk: 

  • I make my coconut milk with organic dried shredded coconut.
  • Get coconut milk recipe here.
  • For this recipe I make coconut milk in 2 batches, one batch I use as is.  
  • Second batch is made earlier and kept refrigerated so that thick coconut cream is separated on top.
  • You can remove the cream from top using a spoon and remaining will be your light coconut milk.

Vishu Kanji:

Another simple dish is Vishu Kanji. This is made with rice and puliyamara. I tried figuring out what this puliyamara actually is and I am still trying..:) I just know that it is some kind of flat bean. I just use any kind of flat variety of beans that are available here, like cannellini beans, or mochakotta (val) beans. I think puliyamara might even be mochakotta itself. Anyway, the beans are dry roasted, coarsely ground and cooked with rice to make the kanji (rice soup/congee). It is then seasoned with coconut and cumin seeds. I don't think that it can get any simpler than this. It can be served as is with a drizzle of ghee. You can also serve it with chakka erissery (raw jackfruit cooked with coconut and spiced with pepper), jackfruit being in season during vishu time.

  • Parboiled broken rice  - 3/4 cup 
  • Mochokotta (Val) beans - 1/4 cup 
  • Fresh shredded coconut - 1 cup
  • Cumin seeds - 1 Tbs 
  • Sea salt as per taste

  • Dry roast the beans till nice roasted aroma comes and you will start hearing some popping sound of the beans. Let it cool and crush coarsely using coffee grinder of a dry blender. Some big chunks are okay. 
  • Cook the rice and crushed beans with around 6 cups of water. (I use pressure cooker for this) 
  • Once rice is cooked add toasted cumin seeds, shredded coconut and salt. 
  • Serve it warm. Enjoy !!

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