Coconut chutney

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As far as the idlis go, I was supremely lazy and used MTR’s most excellent instant idli mix. A few changes: I used buttermilk instead of water or yogurt, and added some ginger paste to the mix. I had to thin the batter down a bit with water, though, because the buttermilk left it too thick.

Coconut chutney

My mom’s recipe. Ma, if you’re reading this, you rock, and the chutney was incredibly tasty. And so, so simple.
You need: 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut; 2 green chilies (jalape├▒os, serrano, whatever you like – add1 if you don’t want it too spicy); salt to taste.

How to: If the coconut is the dessicated variety you get in the bulk foods section of Whole Foods-like stores, put it in a bowl, add 1/2 cup of water, and zap it for a minute. Mix well. If you’re using fresh, you’re less lazy than I am, congratulations ­čÖé

Chop the green chilies and throw in a food processor with the coconut and salt and some water, if necessary. Add the water a little bit at a time, and mix well before you add any more. Coconut chutney is deceptive, and you’ll suddenly have too much water if you’re not careful. Blend well.

Heat a little oil, and drop in some mustard seeds and some shredded curry leaves. Let them splutter and add it to the chutney. Mix well.

Refrigerate. It should keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.

Oh, and by the way, I used a microwaveable idli steamer, which I think you can get online, though I bought mine in a dinky but darling store in Sarojini Nagar in Delhi. I have, previously, used little microwaveable bowls and put them in a plate with a little water and zapped them for five minutes. This does work much better, though. The tomatoes and curry leaves I put into the steamer’s batter bowls before I poured the batter in. I’ve seen this in udipi-type places back home, thought I’d try it. Looks pretty. I might try other things next time, cashews, cilantro, maybe even be brave enough to try to make rava idli from scratch!

Coconut laddoo

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A laddoo is a round sweet.

You need: one can sweetened condensed milk, 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut.

How to: Keep 1/2 cup coconut aside. Mix the rest of the coconut well with the condensed milk and warm lightly (very lightly – it should not boil). Let it cool and thicken. Form it into balls and roll it in the remaining coconut. Refrigerate.

Coconut burfi

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Dessert. Kind of like fudge, but not quite. Burfi, in the North, is often made with milk or a milk product, and is usually covered with vark – very thin silver or gold foil. This one can be dairy-free.

You need: 1 cup grated coconut; 3/4 cup sugar; 1/4 tsp cardamom powder; a pinch saffron (optional); 1 tbsp ghee or oil; 1 greased pan.

Note: If you’re using frozen grated coconut, you’ll need 1/4 cup water. Cane sugar is okay.

How to:

Put the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan. If you’re adding water, add it now, and let it boil.

Add the coconut. Keep stirring in a clockwise direction. Or anticlockwise, but in one direction only. Don’t stop stirring at any point, even briefly.

It should start mixing together to a fudge-like consistency. If it isn’t, it might be too dry. If it smells like it’s burning, it was too dry. Start over, and add water (I learnt this the hard way).

Add the cardamom and saffron after a couple of minutes. When the mixture starts foaming (or looks cooked to you) add the ghee or oil. Keep stirring.

Drop a bit of the mixture onto the pan. If it doesn’t spread, it’s done. If it does, let it reduce a little more.

Scoop it into the pan and spread it evenly. Let it cool. After about 15 minutes, while it’s still soft, cut it into squares. You can also add chopped nuts to the top while it’s still warm.

Mistakes I made that you can avoid: the first time, too little water, and I let it burn. The second time, I think too much water (I used 1/2 cup), and perhaps I took it off the stove too soon. Also, I used too much cardamom. 1/8-1/4 tsp is more than enough.