Saturday, December 12, 2009

Weekend Brunch, and Blogging by Mail

Blogging by Mail (BBM) is a food blog event with a difference, where bloggers escape from their virtual world and send each other "real" packages using snail mail.

The incredible Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness hosted yet another version of BBM this month and the theme was to send your five favorite indulgences.

My gift came all the way from Australia, from ms fifkins. All the gifts she chose were local favorites and things unique to Australia, which was so exciting for me. They celebrate native food and support the local economy. I got a set of tea-towels, beautifully embroidered with a green tree frog that is unique to Australia,  a package of pasta in cute kaola shapes and a green tomato spread that I can't wait to taste.

The most unique part of the package were three spices that are completely new to me. One is wattleseed, which smells nutty and rich. The second is lemon myrtle leaf with a heady citrus aroma. The third is a savory herb, dried saltbush flakes. It is going to be fun experimenting with these new flavors!

My own package also traveled a long way, to Finland. See all the coming and goings of the BBM packages here.

Coming to the recipe countdown...

When I need a solid start to the day, a meal that will keep me going for hours on end, I turn to the trusted combination of idli (steamed rice-lentil cakes) and sambar (vegetable and lentil stew). I have recipes for each for these, but there are dozens of ways to steam an idli and hundreds of ways to cook up sambar so there's always room to learn and experiment.

Recipe #22 is Poha Idli, my new favorite recipe for idlis. I first noticed the recipe on Nandita's blog, The Saffron Trail. The original is from Sanjeev Kapoor.

What I love about it:
a) It is the perfect, tidy small-scale recipe. You need wee amounts of ingredients (half cup of ural dal, 1 cup of idli rava) and I can make exactly one batch of idlis in my 16-well idli steamer. This is still enough for two brunches!
b) The grinding can be done in my food processor. The food processor grinds ural dal to a silky smooth consistency, and the idli rava only needs a whirl since it is already ground. This means for a small batch I can avoid using the huge wet grinder.
c) The recipe calls for a small amount of poha (beaten rice flakes) to be added in, and those seem to really get the fermentation going, which is especially helpful in winter.

The only change I make to the recipe is to grind a few fenugreek seeds into the batter.

Here are the soft, fluffy idlis:

And for idli-dunking purposes, I finally got to try Recipe #21: Arachuvitta sambar, which takes sambar to a whole new level by using a freshly ground spice-coconut paste. I used Shammi's recipe. The results were divine. With just a handful of pantry ingredients, you get the most aromatic, mellow, flavorful sambar. The few extra minutes spent making the coconut paste are completely worth it!

The great thing about making a sambar with fresh coconut is that I don't feel like a separate coconut chutney is required; this seems like a 2-in-1 deal.

And with this satisfying brunch, we were ready to head off to the holiday concert in the botanical garden.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend too!


  1. Ooh- the swap sounds like such fun!
    It's been aages since I've made idli. Must make some sometime. Arachuvitta sambhar is my favorite kind of Sambhar( along with Bangalore/Udipi Sambhar- have you tried Padma's recipe?:

    Have fun at the concert!

  2. Idli Sambar always hits the spot!!!
    Poha idli is a must try now.
    Have a gr8 weekend!

  3. Those are some lovely presents! And i completely agree wuth you about the 2-in-1 deal :). Hope you had loads of fun at the concert!

  4. So glad you liked the package! I hope you can indulge in some cooking with the spices!

  5. Your food gift package looks so interesting, itsn't it wonderful to learn and taste foods of different regions? A sunday breakfast at my ayee's many years ago meant idli and sambar...mmm.

  6. Idli and sambar sounds like a yummy combo! Craving for some now.

  7. Right now, I am eating a bowl of Idli-sambar too! Its perfect fot this cold weather.
    The gifts that you've received sound very intersting, cant wait to see how you will be using them Nupur!

  8. I just made aruchhaivittai sambar on the weekend when I had some friends staying over and it got polished off! there's something about freshly ground spices and the combination of coconut I guess....
    I don't put too much coconut though...just enough to give it a nutty flavour.

    Those are some lovely gifts indeed. I have those very same spices lying around somewhere - a gift from an Oz friend...I used a bit but never followed up.

  9. Lavanya- I did try that Udipi sambar months ago and loved it; I must make it again.

    sanjeeta kk- Thanks.

    Manasi- Yes, the poha idli recipe is wonderful.

    musical- Oh, we did, the concert was a singing chorus and it was magical!

    Fiona- Thanks again for your gifts!

    Namita- Nothing makes a weekend feel relaxed and special like a idli sambar brunch!

    Divya Vikram- It is the yummiest combo :)

    Mona- I'm frantically searching for recipes to use these unusual spices :D

    Miri- You are right, you don't need a whole lot of coconut to give it that special flavor.

  10. Hi Nupur, been many times on your blog but never put a message, this time i couldn't stop my self after seeing the recipe about poha idli. love the poha and idli, this is good combo for me! I will try it on coming weekend for breakfast

  11. hi there,could u post a pic of ur food proccesor as mine doesn't grind soaked dal to a smooth paste.its a kenwood brand,any suggestions?

  12. Nupur,

    Lemon Myrtle leaf makes a great tea. You can add the whole chai spices such as cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom and cloves to it as well.

  13. hi
    I will surely try this recipe , i am always lazy when it comes to making idlis for the time it takes for fermentation but i will surely try this out...

  14. This is great ...
    I saw the recipe you referred to. I would just fry the ingredients in oil instead of dry roasting them. And also fry some of the shallots along with them ... this sure enhances the taste ... try it! :)


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