It always makes wonder how the name 'Ishtoo' got popular in Kerala and presume as an attempt to sound like the English, when they named this mild curry, Stew..probably!
Amma wanted to make idiyappam and ishtoo for breakfast, the dish which evokes the reminiscences of our childhood days, the day sis and me were busy packing off from Kottayam. She had a hard time on the day with unannounced power cuts and least help from her daughters ;), well, she never expects our help as well but later by the end of the day her maid turned up and promised solid help to make the dish, which turned out to be our 'pack-away dinner' in Ernakulam!
I managed to click a few pictures in the middle of packing and running up and down the town for the last minute shopping and today, exactly after 3 weeks, since we left home, I drafted the post and rang amma up for the recipe..
Kerala Idiyappam (Serves 4-6)
Ready made rice flour / idiyappa podi (She used Matha. Double Horse, Eastern and Nirapara are also good brands)- 1/2 kg
Boiling water- 3 1/2 - 4 cups (more or less) or as needed to make a soft dough.
Salt - 1/2 - 3/4 tsp or to taste
Grated coconut- 1 cup
Boil water in sauce pan and add to the flour in a large wide vessel while mixing to form a dough with the stem of a ladle or so. Add water little by little adding salt to the flour and knead to an ultimate soft dough.The amount of water varies according to the quality or the rice powder.
Lightly grease the idiyappam press mould and put in one portion of the dough. Sprinkle 1-2 tbsps of coconut shavings on a a piece of greased banana leaf. Press out the dough to form circular mounds over the shavings.
Place the leaf carefully on the perforated plate of the steamer..
and steam for about 10 minutes till the iddappam is cooked; with the steamer closed with its lid :)
I badly wanted to capture the steam n oye oye, I made it!!
Idiyappam stands or an idli stand can be the substitutes to the perforated plate lined with banana leaf. A pressure cooker, without the weight, can be used for steaming instead of the traditional 'appachembu' or the steamer you see here.
Ensure idiyappam is cooked.
Topple gently on a tray or a flat plate and serve steaming hot with Potato Ishtoo.
To serve 4 , you need,
Potatoes - 4 medium, peeled & cubed
Big onions - 2 medium, cut into squared slices
Green chillies - 4 to 5, slit lengthwise
For the coconut milk,
Grated coconut - 4 cups, loosely packed. You may need 1 big or 2 small coconuts.
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Finely minced shallots/small onions- 1-2 tsps
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Salt to taste
* Dried and liquid variants of coconut milk are widely available in the market, these days. Prepare thick/thin milk according to the package/can instructions . The traditional way of preparing coconut milk, added to the curry enhances the taste and flavour to a large extend and hence I always resort to this method!
Extraction of coconut milk
Place a half of the coconut shavings in the blender with about 100ml (1/2 cup) of warm water. Process for about 20 seconds. Repeat with the other half with another 100 ml. Strain the milk using a filter or a double layered cheese cloth. Squeeze to finish off extraction completely.The milk you thus get is the concentrated milk or the 'onnam pal'/ first extract. Set this aside in a separate bowl.
Repeat, with added 200 ml of water to the coconut. Pulse to strain out the second extract / 'rendam pal'.
Another 200 ml of water pulsed will result in the third extract / 'moonam pal'.
Combine 2nd and the 3rd extracts.You may have, more or less, 3 cups of milk. Transfer into pan and boil potato chunks in this.The liquid part should at least 2 inches above the pieces. Be careful not to bring to a complete boil but simmer instead, stirring every now and then. Add the onions, green chillies and salt let cook until soft. Do not bother much if the milk curdle a bit coz it's natural. Once the vegetables are cooked, switch off the stove and add the first concentrated extract.
Heat coconut oil in a separate pan, crackle mustard seeds, caramelise the minced onions, throw in the curry leaves. Pour this over the curry. Close with a lid until served with steamy idiyappams.
Variations- You can add pieces of carrots and minced ginger while simmering the vegetables, the original Ishtoo additions!We generally avoid both as they suppress the divine flavour of coconut milk.
You may avoid the seasoning part by drizzling the coconut oil and stirring in the curry leaves.
Ishtoo serves well with Appams too!