Ooooh! Sandavai! I remember the fresh 'Eat-me-right-now' smell that comes when my mother steams the Idlis for making this kind of Idiyappam. I have no clue why, we, people from Kongu Naadu area of Tamilnadu, call it Sandavai, instead of the well known name, Idiyappam. This is not an everyday dish - It takes some time to prepare it and so it is usually a delicacy or a special-occasion dish. Many people make Idiyappams using different recipes, but you goto a house in Kongunaadu for Idiyappam, you'll know, the smell is totally different, because of the coconut and cardamom used while grinding the batter and while steaming it. Remember the 'Eat-me-right-now' smell?
In our community, this is one dish, which HAS TO BE SERVED as the first meal, to the new bridegroom ('maapillai' in Tamil), when he goes to visit his in-laws, for the first time, after the wedding. It usually is a pain (you'll know why, soon) to make this special dish for a lot of people, but since it's just the two of us and since we both, are crazy Sandavai fans, we make it often. These days, I've been posting some 'Kongu cuisine' recipes, because I've been missing home crazily. Now, I guess, I'll just make this into a series of Kongu cuisine. I'm giving the recipe for 2. This recipe doubles, triples very well. :)
Parboiled Rice - 2 cups (I use Parboiled Ponni rice)
Freshly grated Coconut - 1/2 to 1 cup (dried/dessicated just won't do! Sorry!)
Cardamom pods - 5 (just the seeds, not the skin)
Salt - 1/2 tbsp
Wash and soak the rice for 3-4 hrs. While grating coconut, be careful not to use the red colored skin near the shell. This will change the color of the Idiyappam. (See mine! The color has changed, I forgot to scrape of the red colored skin!). Grind coconut and cardamom seeds in a blender/mixie to a fine paste. (This is important, a modern Idli grinder like Ultra/Sowbhagya will not grind cardamom seeds and coconut fine enough to pass through tiny holes of the Sandavai press). Add the coconut paste to the rice and grind them together in a Idli grinder (Look at Indira's Idli Grinder) to a thick batter. The consistency should be thicker than Idli batter. It tastes GREAT if the Sandavai is made right away, as soon as the batter is prepared, but for time saving purpose, I prepare the batter the previous night and put it right away in the refrigerator before it has the slightest chance to ferment.
Grease the idli plates or line with a wet cloth, and pour batter on the idli plates. If the batter is thin like Idli batter, it will overflow. So, remember! Thick batter it should be. Steam the idlis for about 9-10 mins (I always use a timer). Grease the inner sides of the Idiyappam press / Sandavai nazhi (Look at Shammi's Sandavai nazhi and her sevai) and put 2-3 idlis in it. Keep cold water in a bowl, nearby, to dip your hands into, often. The idlis will be very hot and it has to be pressed hot. If it cools down, it is really hard to press the Sandavai. When you press, you'll see yummy strings of rice noodles coming from the bottom of the press.
This is traditionally eaten with coconut milk or sugar+ghee+banana (I hate this! but, most of my relatives go crazy for this combo). In the above picture, I served it with Tomato Kurma. But, the best combo for this type of Sandavai/Idiyappam is Potato Kurma or Chicken Curry or Prawns curry. The Potato Kurma is made exactly like the Tomato Kurma, substituting tomatoes for boiled and slightly-mashed-into-small-pieces of potatoes. It goes wonderful with this Idiyappam or dosas.
Remember? I said, it's painful to make this for a lot of people - That's people, it's so yummy that people just can't stop eating. And it's very labor intensive because you have to manually press the Idiyappam for all those people. But well, the taste compensates for everything! :)