You're never out of options when hunger strikes in the 2010s and need an instant fix. But a lot of these instant snacks come with their share of artificial flavours and stabilisers, a given with processed foods. Before the age of instant noodles and home delivery aggregators, you needed to think on your feet to quickly craft a snack or meal for an unexpected visitor or to satisfy your own hunger cravings. And most times you had to work with available ingredients. Rava dosa is one such dish, you don't need fermented batter in this case. And then there's the Mor Kali, a quick fix in many homes in Tamil Nadu.
This dish combines two ingredients - rice flour and curd. It takes its name from the Tamil word for buttermilk - 'mor'. It's quick and very simple, especially once you get the method right. Just like most kids today, I never fancied eating dishes that didn't sound interesting. I only ate the mor kali after my mother dubbed it as salt cake. Rice flour cake is probably a better description given the main ingredient. Rice flour and curd is a popular mix for a simple face pack that is believed to be a good anti-tan fix. This mix is also used for an instant dosa of sorts. Blend curd and rice flour with chopped onions, tomatoes and coriander, and you have your dosa mix ready. It's almost as easy as the prep for a besan chilla, crafted with besan flour in many parts of India.
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The mor kali requires even less work than making a rava dosa or a chilla. The key is sour curd that needs to be slowly mixed with the rice flour to create a light batter like mixture without lumps. While it's best to leave the curd out of the refrigerator for about six hours for the sour taste, I've discovered that adding a small quantity of lemon juice as you whisk the curd is a great shortcut. Once you have your mixture, you 'temper' a few flavouring ingredients in oil, then add water before you add the rice flour mixture. The trick is to make sure that the mixture doesn't get lumpy or stick to the pan as it cooks in quick time.
Sesame oil or gingelly oil is ideal for this dish but you can substitute it if you don't fancy the flavour. The other trick I learned from my grand aunt in Mumbai (see recipe) is to use 'mor milagai' that translates to buttermilk chili. These chillies are flavoured and dehydrated before being preserved and then fried almost till they are charred. It's a popular accompaniment for curd rice. These chillies add tang and spice to the dish but you can also use dried red chillies.
Indian Cooking Tips: Here's How To Make Mor Kali Or Rice Flour Cake
Recipe by: Mrs Kalyani Raghavan
- Rice flour: 1.5 cups
- Sour curd: 2 cups
- Water: half cup
- Salt: to taste
- For the tempering:
- Gingelly oil / sesame oil: 1 table spoon
- Urad dal: 1.5 teaspoon
- Mustard: three-fourth teaspoon
- Curry leaves (chopped): a few leaves
- Asafoetida: a pinch
- Crushed buttermilk chillies (fried) or dried red chillies: 2 - 3
- Grease a deep dish or plate with gingelly oil.
- Whisk the curd and add slowly to the rice flour. Make sure they are no lumps. Add the water to the mixture. Keep aside.
- 'Temper' the ingredients in the oil. Add a small quantity of water after you temper the ingredients and let it boil. Pour the rice flour mixture into the pan and stir constantly on a low to medium flame for about 5 minutes. You will know the dish is done when it doesn't stick to your fingers.
- Pour it on to the dish. You can have it piping hot or let it cool for a few minutes, slather it with some idli powder mixed with oil (optional). You can cut them into bite-sized squares once it cools down slightly.
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