Tiffin Time - Coconut Sevai
When I was growing up, we usually did not eat breakfast in the mornings. A big glass of milk usually fortified with a malted "powder du jour" - Bournvita, Ovaltine, Horlicks or Complan depending on whose advertising seemed most attractive at that time and also on what the majority of the kids in the neighborhood were drinking. I used to detest, simply detest those horrible mixes and still shudder at the sight of Complan bottles lined up in the stores. I think my mother must have tried every powdered mix available in the hope that I might take a liking to at least one! No such luck! I hated them then and I hate them now!! Mornings were blissful only after I got old enough to graduate to drinking tea in the mornings! Ahh chai !
So, anyway, breakfast being such a simple or non-existent affair, the highlight of the day was "Tiffin". We would usually eat tiffin around 3 or 4 in the afternoon and because there was plenty of time to cook tiffin, all sorts of exotic creations would make an appearance every now and then in the midst of the humdrum grub like idlis and upmas. Cutlets, vadas, pakoras, kachoris would be the stars of the show in these afternoon tiffins.
Today, I often put together a similar show for Tiffin, usually as a stand-in for dinner or lunch. However, the star of a show often needs a supporting cast. That's where the "Coconut Sevai" comes in. It provides a pleasing counterpart to the fried, spicy stuff and can still shine in its own right. It is really easy to make with convenient packets of dried rice noodles from the asian stores and takes 10 mins from start to finish.
I make several varieties of sevai - coconut, lime, tamarind, sweet with jaggery. My favorite however, is coconut.
Flavored with fresh shredded coconut, studded with crispy fried cashew nut pieces, spiked with tangy salt-cured chillies and fragrant with corriander and curry leaves - can you resist the allure of coconut sevai?
1/2 packet dried rice noodles
1/2 cup fresh/frozen grated coconut
handful of cashew nuts
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp udad dal seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
4-5 salt cured chillies
2-3 green chillies
a sprig of curry leaves
cilantro leaves for garnish
salt to taste
The rice noodles are cooked very similar to pasta - in lots of generously salted boiling water.
- Boil plenty of water in a large pot
- When the water comes to a rolling boil, salt generously
- Add the rice noodles. They cook very quickly, so watch carefully and take off the flame when they are almost cooked. They will continue to cook as they drain.
- Drain well and let cool a little.
- When the noodles are slightly cooled, I like to make criss-cross cuts in the mass of noodles with a sharp knife so as to break them up a little bit.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan.
- Add the mustard seeds and when it barely start to pop, add the asafoetida, cashewnuts and the salt-cured chillies.
- When the cashewnuts are fried to a golden brown color, add the shredded coconut and the curry leaves and green chillies.
- Fry for a few seconds.
- Add the rice noodles and mix well.
- Add salt to taste.
- Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and serve.
This is wonderful with coconut chutney or tomato-onion chutney, sambhar or mor kozhambu.