Friday, September 17, 2010

Tips on Teaching and Cooking South Indian Food (Idli/Dosa/Chutney)

Next month, I will be teaching a series of classes on Indian cuisine in Rochester, NY. You can see the list of classes here. In the meantime, if you're interested, you can see this video I made from a class I gave earlier this year on South Indian Cooking. In this video I show how I prepared for the class- all the cooking gadgets, utensils, pots and pans I required to manage the class along with the food items and tips and tricks for giving Indian cooking classes and cooking Indian food. Enjoy!

Tips on Teaching and Cooking South Indian Food (Idli/Dosa/Chutney) from Authentic Journeys on Vimeo.

Video Transcripts
I recently gave a series of cooking classes- the first in my life! ;-) In this video, which I shot before the class, I share how I prepared to teach this class, all the utensils and food items I had to bring and some tips on how to cook some Indian dishes with American gadgets (in case you can't find the Indian gadgets in your town!). I hope this video is helpful to those who want to teach class or simply learn a little about setting up an India-inspired kitchen and wanting to learn how cook Indian food.

Following is the written transcripts of what I say in the video!

Welcome to Authentic Journeys with Jennifer Kumar
Indian Cooking Class April 2010: Preparing to teach South Indian Cooking Class
(Dosa/Idli/Coconut Chutney)
Brighton (Rochester), NY

HI everyone, I'm Jennifer Kumar from Authentic Journeys and Hope you're having a great day.

It's actually Vishu. Happy Vishu to everyone who knows what that is. It's actually the new year celebration for Keralites in southwestern India. It's kinda fitting that it's Vishu and I'm gonna be teaching a South Indian cooking class today - dosa/idli and coconut chutney. I'm gonna show you a little bit about what I did today and how I prepared. I think the video is gonna be a little bit long, but hang in there. Let me know what you think at the end.

This week's class doesn't have as much stuff because I prepared the dosa batter at home during the week. Of course, I need my utensils; all these different things. And oil. I'm gonna introduce the students to sesame oil (1). That's what this is. This was pretty popular to use in Chennai; among many of my friends. Some people say it's mostly amongst Brahmins. I like to eat it with my dosa podi(2), which is a powder mixed with oil that you dip your dosa or idli in. Some people call it 'gun powder,' because it's so hot.

I like to use this silicone brush to actually dip in the oil and put on the pan. It actually ends up using less oil. One of my Indian friends taught me this. I have a few different pans here because students might try their hand at making the dosa. The two in the back that are square are non-stick pans. This front one is a cast iron skillet, which I acquired recently. I prefer the cast iron, it uses a lot less oil. And, as you can see, the other two pans – especially this one, it kinda doesn't lie flat anymore. It doesn't heat evenly for that reason, too. Non-stick even though they claim it uses less oil, I use a lot less oil on the cast iron. It's glistening oils because it's... seasoned. I think that's what they call it. You're not supposed to wash the cast iron with water and soap.

These are some of the other ingredients I have for today. This is grated coconut (3). You can buy it in the frozen section. There’s many different brands, but somehow I like this brand the best: Daily Delight. It’s my favorite. I’m not getting paid by the company to say that, I just really like this brand… when I try other brands… well, maybe I like the packaging…

This is a traditional tempering pan that’s used in South India. Maybe it’s used in other parts of India. It’s kind of a little bit shallow, but not that deep, and a little small. It’s used to temper or pop mustard seeds and other kinds of spices: curry leaves, green chilies, dhal, lentil pieces… You can see my reflection in there…It’s pretty funny.. HI! ;) So, yeah, I got this from India. It’s one of my favorite things. I use it a lot. Salt, of course. This is mustard seeds. This is salt. That’s chenna dhal. This is gonna be used for the coconut chutney. All these ingredients are for coconut chutney. This is curry leaves inside the packet. The Indian store I went to around here in Rochester gets all of their vegetables on Thursday, and today is Thursday. If you’re ever gonna give an ethnic cooking class think about ahead of time when do the stores around you get their ethnic vegetables because they ran outta green chilies. I couldn’t get any today, so the coconut chutney isn’t really gonna taste 100% ethnic, unfortunately, but I have to go ahead with the plan. I bought ready-made coconut chutney. I personally haven’t tried this one, this is Lakshmi brand. I picked this one over another brand because they actually use green chilies. I read the ingredient list. Another brand in the Indian store of coconut chutney used jalapenos, which I suppose you can use but it would give a slightly different taste. These are urad dhal pieces, the white ones, and dried red chilies. That’s for the coconut chutney.

Now, these are the dosa batters that I’ve ground this week. It’s kind of hard to open with one hand. It’s kind of puffed up and then de-poofed. I hope it doesn’t loose it’s taste. I’d been grinding idli batter all week. Actually, these two plus another one for home. The nice thing about the plastic containers is you can actually see where it rose. It rose then it de-poofed, so.. hmm… I hope it doesn’t affect the taste.

These three little containers here are for the students to look at the idli rice closer, the urad dhal, and the methi or fenugreek seeds. These are the three ingredients used to make the dosa batter.(4) They can open it up and touch and feel all the ingredients and they can see what it looks like, because we’re not gonna be grinding them here. Of course, my trusty Magic Bullet…that’s gonna be [used to] grind the coconut chutney.

And, over to this side, this is the idli… all the stuff to make idli (5). Now if you made idli, and you see this, this is the traditional thing to make idli on, the idli stand [and put it] in a pressure cooker like that. There are idli pans that you can buy in India that are slightly different than this, but this is the way that I do it here in America. I have this idli pan. But, you know this kind of this is hard for many Americans to acquire, so I found some other ways to show how to make idli. One is in this egg poacher pan, which is pretty handy. These things actually come out and you can oil it. You don’t actually have to put that much oil on it as those [the traditional idli pan]. These are a non-stick surface, and in this case, non-stick does actually require less oil than, say, the non-stick pan as compared to the cast iron pan. As you can see this is a deeper idli, and a smaller, rounder idli, where this is not as deep, but the circle is bigger. So, for these I actually leave it in the pan for a little bit longer. So, if I leave this in for 15 minutes, I leave that one in for twenty minutes. And, this is the third way. This is a silicone strainer, or steamer that goes into the bottom of the pan to steam vegetables, and these are egg poachers; silicone egg poachers. I have two different sizes. A bigger size and these kind of smaller sizes. These are actually used as dipping bowls. With these I leave them in about 20 minutes, and they turn out pretty good. I have to do these (the bigger ones) separately from these (the smaller ones), but I can put this in a regular sauce pan, American sauce pan, but I have to make sure the lid is a glass lid with a hole that allows the steam to escape. I forgot to bring that. But, a lid that’s similar to this – with a hole on top, so the steam can escape, like in that set altogether.

Now, these are gonna be introduced to the students. These are different kinds of dosa podis: a general one on the left and a sesame one on the right. We can get these in our local restaurant called Mysore Woodlands, but you have to ask for it. They don’t automatically give it to you with the dosa, so some people may not know about it. So, I’ll show ‘em how to use it; eat it. And, these are some snacks. Kerala Mixture with peanuts and chick pea flour fried snacks mixed in there. This is murrukku. This is a deep fried snack made from rice and lentil flours with red chili and cumin and some other spices. They can try that. This is actually a sweet from North India called Soan Papdi. Somebody had asked about this last week. This came out of a box that I already had at home, so they might like to try that.

One thing is that I’ve always looked to other bloggers and been like, ‘Wow they do stuff on the internet, then they get to do it in real life!" Well, the recipes that I’m using for both of these classes, the previous class was palak paneer, and today’s the dosa, I put on my blog already like sometime last year sometime. So, I guess I been preparing for this class without knowing about it. So, I get to translate the stuff the stuff that I’m doing online to my offline life. It’s pretty exciting, and I’m pretty excited. I’m really happy to have this opportunity. I thank the students for it, I thank the Brighton Continuing Education Department for hiring me to do this job, and… you … for watching this video, of course! Leave your comments, questions, feedback; anything you’d like. I’d like to be in touch with you. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

(In this video, I will answer a few questions-
Can idli be made without a pressure cooker?
Can dosa be made on a cast iron pan?)

Related Posts: See the recipes I used to give this class-

Coconut Chutney - Dosa- Idli Photologue