"I write more particularly for those who have not been brought up as farmers-for that numerous body of patient toilers in city, town and village, who, like myself, have struggled on from year to year, anxious to break away from the bondage of the desk, the counter, or the workshop, to realize in the country even a moderate income, so that it be a sure one."
If that does not a strike a chord for a lot of people I will be very surprised. It might be 2010, but what Edmund Morris so eloquently expressed in 1864 is still very much true. The book is out of print but can be read electronically from the link provided above.
A life of a farmer and a farming for someone stuck in the drudgery of a desk job might seem very appealing, peaceful almost. But there is no dearth of people warning about the hard life of a farmer and they are to be taken seriously.
It has been giving me great pleasure reading this book. I'd sure love to chuck my desk job once for all :)
I have for today 2 recipes that are simple but down home and comforting. One is ragi idli and the other is khichidi. If you want a bit of variation from the regular rice idlis try using whole ragi for a colorful, fluffy and soft idlis. As opposed to the dosai batter which does not require fermentation, the idli batter has to be fermented.
As for khichidi it is a variation on the Kongu version of arisim paruppu saatham and the South Indian favorite ven pongal. Amazing how the very same main ingredients but a change in the spices can give totally different but equally tasty results. I had this khichidi as prasadam after out Sunday Geeta classes and could not wait to recreate them at home.
Whole Ragi idli
For the batter
1. 2 Cups Whole Ragi
2. 1 1/2 cups of Rice
3. 1 cup of Urad dal [if you are using a ratio of 4:1 rice:urad dal, stick to that while using ragi + rice]
4. 1 tbsp methi seeds
1. Soak the above overnight. [I will explain why soaking overnight is a good idea]
2. Grind the ragi first remove to a container, followed by the urad and methi seeds and finally the rice. Add water as required to get the grinder/blender moving.
3. Add salt and mix it to a consistency of pancake batter, pourable but not watery.
4. Let it ferment overnight.
To make idlis
1. Grease the idli mould with sesame oil or ghee and fill with batter.
2. Put in a pressure cooker (without weight) or a idli steamer and steam for 10-12 minutes.
3. Let the steam abate, remove and serve with a chutney of choice.
1. Soaking overnight: Soaking overnight especially in the cold winter months helps the batter to ferment relatively easily. Grind the batter in the morning and let it ferment till the next morning. Summer months the batter should ferment by evening.
2. Fermentation: If you have a conventional oven or microwave over with a light, turn on the light and leave the batter inside for 8-24 hours and the batter will rise. If it does not, remove the batter container outside warm the oven, turn off heat, put the batter back inside and leave for another 2-3 hours.
Khichidi is mixture of rice and dal seasoned with pepper, cumin, ginger,green chilies and curry leaves. The rice is not cooked mushy like arisim paruppu saatham or ven pongal but in a such way that the rice and dal still retain their shape. The khichidi had that texture and that is the way I attempted to recreate. Split moong dal is generally used I used a combination of split moong and split cow peas. I am in a swoon over the taste. Use only ghee that is not an option but a requirement.
Khichidi - Rice with lentils
1. 1 1/2 Cups or rice (Ponni Raw Rice) - 4 Cups of water
2. 1/2 Cup split moong dal with skin
3. 1/2 cup split cow peas (thatta payar)
4. 4 green chilies slit and deseeded if needed
5. 10-15 curry leaves
6. 1 tbsp pepper-cumin powder + turmeric powder
7. 3 tsp ghee
8. 2 tsp cumin seeds
9. Salt to taste
1. In a pressure cooker heat the ghee and season with cumin seeds
2. Add the slit green chilies and curry leaves and saute for a few seconds
3. Add the pepper - cumin - turmeric powders and let it sizzle
4. Add the water and let it come to a boil, add the salt.
5. Add the rice, dals and let it come to a boil
6. Close the lid and let it cook for 8 -10 minutes (do not have to wait for the whistle to come, depending on the rice being used determine the optimum time to cook before it becomes mushy)
Serve with beetroot raita.