Sunday, January 17, 2016

Avalakki Huggi - simpler, lighter and quicker version

I haven't talked to you all in a couple of weeks now, so here is a belated New Year wishes and an 'after the fact' Happy Sankranthi. I actually posted my new Year post when we were holidaying with family. Thank you to all of you who wished Sattvaa on its birthday and also for the new year wishes. We had taken a week off from work at the end of the year and went away to immerse ourselves in the imaginary world of Disney characters :-). It was fun to relive the fantasy for a few days, DD had perfect company with her cousin and it was great to relax and enjoy the holidays with extended family.
We also went to a celebration of a rare occasion and mingled with more family before heading home to start the new year. BH's uncle is 80+ and the family decided to celebrate in a very traditional way. This special birthday is called 'sahasra chandra darshana' (person who has witnessed 1000 full moons in his or her life time). A very intimate and personal celebration where the elderly couple were such great sports made it all the more special. Grand kids were so happy to see the grand parents redo their wedding ceremonies. Wishing Atta & Mavayyagaru continued happiness and togetherness. It was a great ending to 2015. DD is back at school and we are getting back to the routine of work, home and other activities until the next break!
Hope you all had a good weekend to taper off the festivities of Sankranthi :-). May the festival of harvest extend throught the year and spread prosperity all over. In some parts of India, the festival is celebrated over 3 days. Since we are back to being the empty-nesters this week, and also with 15th being a week day, my offering was the mandatory (self imposed though) ellu bella which the family loves and a khara pongal on Friday. I made the ellu-bella last weekend so DD could carry some with her, it was a test of mettle not to eat it until the offering was done :-). As we had a lot of rice (and lot more stuff) over the last couple of weeks and holidays, I switched gears to make this easier, simpler and tastier version with avalakki (beaten rice) and I am presenting the recipe of avalakki huggi here today :-)
At home, we call this dish 'Huggi'. Pongal is a word used in restaurants. . I always feel that Huggi is a more succulent version of pongal. There is something in that word too that describes the dish better, well, I accept I am just being partial :-). It is not watery but the consistency is richer than pongal and beaten rice makes it stay that way even after the dish cools down. This makes it a perfect lunch box option. Nammamma made this for breakfast or for dinner on the days when rice was not preferred due to religious reasons. When made during Sankranthi, huggi inevitably had the seasonal field beans or avarekalu added to it, I didn't have time to go scouting the grocery stores this time, so skipped it. If you have it on it, go ahead and add a handful of cooked avarekalu to the dish.

What do you need to make Avalakki huggi? 
2  cups avalakki/beaten rice - thick variety
1 cup moong dal
1 Tsp black pepper corn
1 Tsp cumin
1 Tsp mustard
2 Tsp oil
1 Tsp ghee
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
6-8 curry leaves
1/8 Tsp turmeric
3 Tbsp coconut
3-4 green chilies
1 inch piece ginger
How do you make Avalakki huggi?
  • Wash, pick any dirt and cook moong dal with 2 cups water until it is soft but holds shape. You can do this in pressure cooker, switch off after 1 whistle or cook in an open vessel, take care not to burn it. 
  • Wash avalakki in running water and add enough water so it comes on top of the avalakki in a vessel and let it soak for 15-20 minutes. 
  • Coarsely grind black pepper and cumin seeds using a blender or mortar and pestle. Keep aside
  • Grind coconut, green chilies, ginger and 1Tbsp cilanto into a smooth paste, use 1/4 water if needed. 
  • Heat a big, heavy bottom pan on medium heat, add oil into it. 
  • Add mustard and let it pop, add crushed pepper and cumin, roughly torn curry leaves and roast for 30 secs. 
  • Add cooked moong dal along with its water, salt, turmeric and let it come to a gentle boil. 
  • Add soaked avalakki into this along with ground coconut paste. 
  • Mix well, test for taste and adjust as needed. 
  • Add ghee in drops all over the pan, give a good mix and let it all cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes. Avalakki needs to lose its raw smell and get mixed with the spices. 
  • Switch off and garnish with remaining cilantro and roasted cashews.   
  • Use thicker variety of avalakki so it stands the heat while it cooks with the rest of the ingredients. The thinner ones tend to become powdery and mushy. 
  • Use of ghee enhances the flavor in the dish, strongly recommended not to skip it.