Kadumbuttu (Coorgi Rice Balls)

Kadumbuttu, Coorg, Kodava, Rice, Rice ball
Kadumbuttu tower

A little on the late side, but finally here’s the recipe for the kadumbuttu to go with the pandi kari as promised in my last blog post.

Kadumbuttu, like pandi kari are typically Coorgi. They’re usually made with broken rice which are simply grains of rice that have fractured into smaller pieces during the milling process. They are separated from the full sized grains before packaging for sale. The small size of the broken rice means that it cooks a lot faster and can be used when a stickier texture is required.

Broken rice is generally thought to be inferior to whole grains and consequently has always been cheaper. As a result, a variety of tasty rice dishes evolved to make use of this readily available, cost-effective staple. In addition to Indian cuisine, it is also frequently used in Vietnamese cooking. In the UK however it’s rare; I’ve seen it being sold by Tilda, but only in 10kg bags! So unless you’re planning on some kind of rice ball festival, you’ll have to make your own – a pretty easy process that involves grinding basmati rice in a food processor after washing.

I’ve made my kadumbuttu plain, but I’ve also seen them flavoured with cardamom and grated coconut. As well as the pandi kari, they also go well with chicken and fish curries. A vegetable curry with a thick sauce would also work. In fact, we ate some leftover ones with a vegetable stir-fry last weekend!

Kadumbuttu (makes approximately 14, enough for 2-4 people depending on appetite)

150g basmati rice
500ml water
¼ tsp sea salt, or to taste

Wash and rinse the rice 2–3 times. Drain thoroughly. Place in a food processor and grind until coarse. You want approximately 4–5 fragments per grain. Keep aside.

Boil 400ml of water with the salt in a heavy based pan. Keep another 100ml of boiling water on the side.

Once the water is boiling, add the broken rice, reduce the heat slightly and keep stirring until you have a soft, sticky dough like consistency and the rice is cooked to al dente. Add more boiling water if necessary to get the right texture; I used the full 500ml. The rice should take 5–10 minutes to get to this stage. Take off the heat, cover and let it rest in its own steam for a further 5-10 minutes.

Once rested, uncover the pan, wet your hands with some lukewarm water and spoon some of the rice dough into your palm (wait a little longer if the rice is too hot for you to handle). I find gently squeezing the rice in one palm and then quickly juggling and squeezing it between both my hands works pretty well at getting a dense, round ball. The kadumbuttu should be about 1½ inches in diameter. Continue until all the rice dough is used up, wetting your palms for each ball to prevent them sticking to your hands.

Place in a steamer for 20-25 minutes, after which they’re ready to eat with pandi kari. Any leftover kadumbuttu can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days and re-steamed when you’re ready to eat them.

Tinned Pilchard Curry

Pilchard, rtinned, canned, fish
Our favourite pilchards

Curry made from tinned fish? Yes, it sounds weird I know, but don’t dismiss it too quickly. It’s so full of flavour and has an almost umami vibe that it easily makes it one of my top comfort dishes.

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Homemade Masala Chai

Tea, chai, Indian
Masala Chai

This is my go-to drink when I’m hungover, got a cold or just feeling a bit run down. The sweetness and the spice are the perfect combination to help perk me up. Back when we were in London we usually only drank it at the weekend as making it at work was never possible. Here in Mumbai, as I am fortunate to be working part-time, I drink it unsweetened the days that I am home, and have the sweet version as an occasional treat from a roadside chai wallah – it always tastes better when someone else is making it!

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Mawa Penda

Mawa peda penda mithai
Diwali penda

I’m excited. It’s Diwali on Wednesday, my first here in India. Mumbai is a hive of activity, homes and shops are decorated, the streets light up colorfully at night and there’s a general air of festivity.

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Goan Mackerel Curry

Mackerel Goa Coconut Chilli
Goan Mackerel Curry & Rice

I wonder how Goans – or any Indian for that matter – made their masala pastes so smooth before the invention of food processors? No doubt they used a pestle and mortar, but I’m betting they never got it as smooth as they do nowadays. Those dry chillies are a nightmare to grind to a paste by hand, believe me I’ve tried. The reason for my ire? I’ve been trying out various recipes for Goan fish curries and have found that my ancient food processor is no longer up to the job of anything much. That’s not to say I haven’t been able to produce a masala. Just that after half an hour of whizzing around in the processor it doesn’t go beyond finely ground. But that’s not going to stop me from posting this recipe. It’s too good not to and I don’t want you to miss out on the tanginess and spiciness of a traditional Goan fish curry. Just try to make your masala paste smoother than mine!

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