Sunday, March 27, 2011

Layered Challenge

Recipe: Chatti Pathiri for the Vegetarian Soul


Call me Layer-o-phobic if you want, but cooking anything with layers intimidates me. Be it a layered cake or kerala porota or even puff pastry. Dishes with layers is just not my forte! (The only layered dish that works out for me is the dum biriyani. But that's because it was a perfect recipe handed down to me by my mom)

This month's Kerala kitchen challenge made me a little nervous - it had 12 layers (gulp!) And not only that, I had to come up with a veggie version of it - no meat, no eggs. I was thinking if I should sneak out of this challenge (he he..). After some encouragement from fellow bloggers (thanks Magpie!), I finally decided to give it a go - all 12 layers of it! And the rest (as they say) is history.




This is definitely a yummy and stylish dish. The different flavours mingled in a way I never imagined, thereby  creating that perfect harmony. The original recipe is from the very talented food blogger Ria. Thank you Ria, for introducing this wonderful dish to us - the dish called chatti pathiri. Or in other words, 12 layers of coconut-milk soaked crepes with yummy filling in between

The recipe for the crepe called for eggs. But since I was making the specially customized veggie version, I didn't use eggs. I also knew from prior experience that the mixture of all-purpose flour and water (minus the eggs) will be very rubbery when cooked. Hence I added a little bit of baking powder to make the batter a little light.

For the veggie filling, I made a dry gravy with mushrooms. I also added fried brinjal in alternate layers.



I was unsure of the baking time and if it should be baked covered or uncovered. I decided on covering it and  popped it into the oven for 30 min at 180 degrees C. But even after 30 minutes, there was still some kind of  liquid in it. So I kept it for 10 more minutes. After that, I panicked as I thought the bottom would have been burnt by now. Hence I pulled it out of the oven and inverted it into a dish. The dish looked done, but it did not have the nice roasted top as Ria's and Magpie's had.

After a few seconds of scratching my head wondering what to do, I finally flipped it back in the roasting tin  and placed it on a medium low flame on the gas (this time uncovered). After 5 minutes, a nice roasted smell came wafting through the kitchen. Now I was sure it was done. Sure enough after inverting it into my serving dish, the top of the chatti pathiri had a beautiful golden colour.

So here you go. The veggie version of chatti pathiri.

CHATTI PATHIRI FOR THE VEGETARIAN SOUL
Adapted from Ria's recipe for Chatti Pathiri with a chicken filling. Click here to check out her recipe


Mushroom gravy filling: 
If you do not eat mushrooms, you can use potato, paneer, peas, corn, tofu, fried/grilled brinjal etc instead

Mushroom (chopped) - 600g (mushrooms let off a lot of water and reduce in size when cooked, hence it is better to chop this into not-so-little pieces esp if you enjoy biting into those juicy mushroom pieces)
Onions (chopped) - 3 medium sized ones
Ginger (finely ground) - 1 Tbsp
Garlic (finely ground) - 1Tbsp
Green chilli (chopped) - 1 or 2 (as per individual preferences)
Coriander powder - 4 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 and 1/2 tsp (or as per individual preferences)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Tomato (chopped) - 1 medium sized one
Coriander leaves (chopped) - 1/4 cup
Curry leaves - 5 nos
Salt to taste
Oil for sauteing the masala (I used coconut oil for an authentic taste) - 3 Tbsp

Heat the oil in a frying pan or a thick bottomed skillet.

Add the chopped onions and green chilli into the oil and fry till the onions become transparent. Add the ground ginger and garlic and lower the flame. Stir continuously for another 2-3 minutes or the raw smell of the ginger and garlic is not present anymore. Then add the curry leaves.

Keep the flame low and add the coriander powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder and keep stirring continuously for another 2 minutes till a nice roasted aroma starts coming (or till those of you with sensitive noses start sneezing :))

Add the chopped tomato and increase the flame to medium. Stir occasionally till the tomato pieces mix well into the gravy. Adjust the salt.

Add the chopped mushrooms and mix well. Stir occasionally. Do not add any water as the mushrooms will begin releasing its moisture. Keep this on a medium flame till the mushrooms are cooked and have reduced in size (after releasing all of its moisture). Add the chopped coriander leaves and stir.

Let the gravy simmer till the excess water has evaporated and till the watery gravy has thickened leaving just a little gravy coating on the mushrooms pieces. Check the salt once again.

Note: This makes a lovely side-dish for appam, idiappam, chapati and rice.

Brinjal filling:


Brinjal - 500g
Chilli powder - 3 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Water - 2-3 Tbspp
Oil for deep frying

Cut the brinjal into round slices.

Make a thick paste with chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and water. Spread this paste evenly on the brinjal slices.

Heat oil in a frying pan. And deep-fry the brinjal pieces. Place the fried brinjal slices on a paper napkin to soak up the excess oil.

Alternately, if you have time, there is a healthier option. You can grill the brinjal pieces till they are cooked through and their raw taste is gone.


Crepes:

Maida (All Purpose flour) - 2 cups
Water - enough to make a lose batter (not too lose as well. So start with 1 cup water and then add more if the mixture is too thick)
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
A non-stick pan of 8-9 inches diameter

Sift together the baking powder and the AP flour. Add water to it and mix well. Add the salt and pepper. 

It gets a little time consuming to remove all the lumps in the batter with your fingers. So to speed things up, just give this a whiz in the blender. Or else, you can also pass this through a strainer to get rid of the lumps. (I personally vouch for the blender method).

Heat a non-stick pan or around 8 -9 inches diameter. Put a drop of oil in the pan and spread it evenly with a kitchen towel or a tissue.

Pour a ladle full of batter into the non-stick pan. At the same time keep rotating the pan so as get a thin and even layer of batter. Cook covered and on a low flame for a couple of minutes till the crepe is cooked.

Do not flip the crepe. Just take it off the flame and place it on parchment or butter paper. 

Make 12 such crepes. 
Do not place the cooked crepes on top of each other. As they tend to stick to each other and tear.


Assembly:


Crepes - 12
Filling
Coconut milk (thick) - 1 and 1/2 cups
Coriander leaves (chopped) - 1/4 cup
Salt to taste
Ghee or butter - 1tsp
A pan or roasting tin of around 8-9 inches in diameter.


Take the roasting tin and place a layer of aluminum foil on just the bottom. If you are using a non-stick pan, you can safely ignore this step.

Spread a tsp of ghee/butter all over the inside of the pan and on the aluminium foil (if using).

Mix the coconut milk with the chopped coriander leaves and salt.

Dip a crepe into the coconut milk and then place in the bottom of the pan. Spread a thin layer of mushroom filling on it. Dip another crepe in coconut milk. Place this over the mushroom filling. On this crepe, spread a single layer of fried/grilled brinjal slices.

Continue doing this till all the crepes and fillings are used up. Alternate mushroom filling and brinjal filling between the layers.

Finally pour the remaining coconut milk over the layered crepes.

If using an oven, then preheat it to 180 degrees centigrade and pop the roasting tin into the oven, covered. Bake till all the coconut milk is absorbed by the crepes and the sides are dry. It took me 40 minutes. To get that golden brown top, after the 40 minutes of baking place the roasting tin on a medium low flame for another 5 minutes.

If you are not using an oven, you can just place this roasting tin covered on a medium low flame till all the coconut milk is absorbed and the sides begin to get dry.

Run a knife through the sides to free it from the pan. Flip the chatti pathiri onto a serving plate and enjoy!




Though this recipe is really long, it is pretty easy to make (trust me!).

And so, I have conquered one more layered dish (phew!). And a really wonderful one at that. I'm glad I tried this :)

This tastes so good that I feel as though I'm eating something gourmet :). This dish is definitely a crowd-pleaser! I'll be trying the non-veggie version of this dish as soon as I can :) 

15 comments:

  1. It has come out well !!! It is fun cooking in layers !!

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  2. Thanks :) Yeah now it feels like fun! Though after my disaster with kerala porota, I'm a little vary of cooking stuff with layers :) The chatti pathiri, on the other hand, is a definite winner!

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  3. Beautiful Sarah! Hats off for veganizing it! I wouldn't have the guts to try crepes without eggs!
    You are right, I layered it on the stove in a saucepan (uncovered) Both me and my husband love mushrooms and eggplant-especially crispy and caramelized so I am sure we will love your filling! What a delicious combo!
    The Kerala Kitchen is proud of you :)

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  4. spoonfulofdelightMarch 28, 2011 at 8:05 AM

    Thanks Magpie! You sure made my day :)

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  5. Thanks so much for trying, Sarah!! It's looks delicious!! Way to go,gurl!

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  6. spoonfulofdelightMarch 29, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    Thanks Ria, I'm on cloud nine !!!

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  7. This look so tempting.I wanted to try this but didn't get time.But now I got the veggie version from you so can just copy you.

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  8. spoonfulofdelightApril 2, 2011 at 2:34 AM

    Hi Vidhya... this is much easier than it looks. do try it! Just make sure your crepe batter is at least as thin as a godhamb dosa batter. so that u can make thin crepes. This dish comes together like magic!

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  9. Excellent attempt Sarah.
    I feel I should try a savoury version like yours. It looks very inviting and the use of baking powder seems ingenious. Its is because of the baking powder that the crepes look the way they do- fluffy.
    NIce attempt, really.

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  10. spoonfulofdelightApril 5, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    Thanks Anita :) The savoury version was very yummy! The original crepe batter had eggs and since the most of my family is going through a no-egg, no-meat lent, i had to exclude the eggs from the crepe recipe. I've had prior horribly rubbery experinces with just maida and water crepes. Hence thought of adding baking powder. I guess that's what made the crepes nice and soft :)

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  11. hey ! ur pathiri luks awesum.... im definitely gonna try it out..... keep up d gud work..

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  12. spoonfulofdelightApril 5, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    Thanks dear! It's pretty easy to make as well. Do let me know how it turned out.

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  13. I like the idea of layered jellies and puddings - too lazy, though, to make it! Unless I'm totally jobless.

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