I thought to present yet another favourite recipe of the South,especially of the Tamil Iyers who are renowned cooks and who relish this delicious snack with enthusiasm.
Cheedai(pronounced Cheedãi) by the Palakkad Iyers and Seedai by the Tamil Nadu Iyers are crunchy and crispy balls which form a favourite snack with tea or coffee for a week after special occasions like Janamashtami or Diwali after the snack is offered to God and then distributed amongst family members.This is a tricky recipe – has a lot of rules to be followed to perfection but the end result is something you cherish and want to hold on to extremely delicious moments as you pop these babies into your mouth!
Ingredients & Quantity
- 2 cups rice flour
- 4 tbsp Urad Dal flour
- 1 tbsp White Sesame seeds(safed Til)
- 4 tbsp grated Coconut(use fresh if possible.If you do not have fresh Coconut then take 4 tbsp desiccated Coconut and mix 2 tbsp hot water into it.Keep aside for 30 minutes and use for the recipe)
- 4 tbsp butter(white butter preferred)
- 2 tsp Salt(or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp Asafoetida(Heeng)
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'Recipe theme of the week'
- Plan in advance before making Cheedai as this is a very methodical recipe.You need to have everything at hand including clean and dry measuring cups for measuring the flours.
- Measure all the ingredients in the EXACT proportion otherwise you would end up with Cheedai which are stone hard or which are chewy both of which are not applicable at all.
- Everything from the mixing bowl to the flours and measuring cups should be absolutely dry and water should be added after mixing the dry ingredients.
- At the time of adding water and making the dough,the rule of absolute patience needs to be followed.We need a tight dough and water has to added approximately a tablespoon at a time!
- The Oil should be heated on medium.Do not make the Oil very hot.
- The Cheedai needs to dry for at least 15 minutes before you fry them.Ideally I keep it for 30-35 minutes as this time is ideal.Please do not over dry as they would crumble in the hot Oil.
- Sieve the flours at least once as any hard particles would make hard Cheedai and also cause the Oil to splutter.
- Use a very clean and washed towel preferably the thin cotton ones available in stores like Nalli.Never use the Turkish bath Towels as they will not function as effectively.If you do not have such a towel then use a cotton kitchen towel
- Do not dry the balls under a fan as they will completely dry up and disintegrate in the Oil.Dry them in open air and the shade.Do not dry them under sunlight as well as they would sweat and completely spoil the show.
- After frying allow the balls to cool naturally.Do not dry them under the fan as they might turn soggy especially in humid areas.
- Never roll the balls for more than a second to get “perfect balls”.There is a scientific reason that air gets trapped inside and will lead to the balls “jumping” in the hot Oil and splattering it around.Roll them roughly and as round as you can make.If the dough is perfectly kneaded then you can make perfect balls in just 1 second.Do not go beyond that in rolling the ball.
- Use butter for the dough(white butter preferred).Do not use Oil as it does not give the rich taste of butter and makes the balls hard.If you do not have white butter then use the store bought salted one and decrease the amount of salt slightly in the recipe.
- Fry the Cheedais on medium heat throughout.One batch takes approximately 10-15 minutes but its well worth the effort!
- Do not make the Oil too hot.Keep it on medium heat.
- Do not add a lot of water while kneading the dough.
- The Cheedai needs to slide into the Oil and not dropped as it might splash the hot Oil on your body.Please be very careful.
- If ever the Oil starts spluttering and splashing around immediately switch off your stove and cover the pan with a lid.
For beginners it is advisable to keep a small tube of cooling Ointment for burns.If you get a hot splash/splashes of Oil on any part of your body,immerse the part in Ice water for 5-10 minutes and apply the Ointment.
I know by this time many of you would fear making this at home.Its up to you.If you are a die hard foodie you will try this out.It requires patience and practice so its worth making it and relishing the taste.I take it like this – Our Grandmas used to make it 2-3 times every year(even more) so if we make it once or twice taking out some time from our hectic schedules it would be both keeping the traditions alive and paying silent tributes to our ancestors who defined the meaning of food in our lives!