Indian Cooking Challenge: Ariselu
This month’s Indian Cooking Challenge is ariselu. Ariselu are a sweet dish prepared mostly during festivals and special occasions. I never prepared ariselu before and would not even have attempted, but for the challenge. Thank you Srivalli for choosing this for this month’s challenge.
Ariselu are prepared by making a dough using rice flour and jaggery syrup. Rice flour used here is made by soaking rice in water overnight, shadow drying it for few hours and then ground to powder. Rice flour preparation is similar to the rice flour used for sakinaalu, a very popular snack from northwestern part of Andhra Pradesh or Telangana region of the state. My aunts in the US use chinese rice flour (Rice flour sold in chinese stores) to make sakinaalu here. If this chinese store rice flour can be used for sakinaalu, I thought why not use it for ariselu as well! More over, I do not have patience to grind my own rice flour at home and here, we don’t even have the luxury of sending the rice to a mill to pound it! The ingredient list on the chinese rice flour says rice and water, so bought one packet to make my ariselu.
Srivalli gave us two recipes to choose from. The first recipe is the authentic recipe which is a little tricky to prepare. The tricky part of the recipe, at least to me is the syrup preparation. The syrup should be a three thread consistency and I am very bad that making syrups. Whenever I make Julab Jamun or any dessert that calls for syrup, I cook it for x number of minutes until the required consistency syrup is formed and more over, it was only one string syrup. I never made three string syrup before and was little intimidated by it. The second recipe just asked us to cook the syrup until lot of bubbles are formed.
Although I don’t know how to make three thread consistency syrup, I took the challenge very seriously and went ahead and tried the first recipe. Everything seems to have come out well and I thought I learned how to make the syrup. As I added the flour, it looked perfect and the aroma of the syrup and the cardamom powder made me hungry. Could not wait to taste the dough and the ariselu! Once I finished adding all the flour, the dough which looked perfect started to harden and became a big solid ball or rock! I could not even break it with my hand.. My first attempt at ariselu was a disaster. The dough was so hard that soaking it in water ( the pot in water) also did not melt the dough. I had to boil some water in the pot to melt the dough or the sweet rock that I prepared, to clean the pot!
The next day I attempted again to make ariselu but this time I went for the second recipe. The recipe and the instructions were very clear. My dough turned out perfect and it was as soft as a baby skin! The dough was smooth, soft and perfect to make the balls and roll out to flat discs to make ariselu. The jaggery I used is paku bellam, I think it is paku bellam based on Srivalli’s jaggery picture. My jaggery packet says South Indian Jaggery and it looks like paku jaggery.
- 1 cup Rice Flour (bought it from Chinese store. Regular rice flour doesn’t work)
- ½ cup jaggery
- 2 tsp desiccated Coconut
- ¼ tsp Cardamom Powder
- ½ cup Water
- 1 tbsp Sesame seeds
- Oil for deep-frying
- Poppy Seeds
- Cut the jaggery into small pieces and add the water.
- Cook on medium flame until the jaggery melts. I strained the jaggery syrup to remove all the scum and impurities from the jaggery. Add the cardamom powder.
- Once it starts boiling, add coconut. Continue to boil it until lots of bubbles are formed.
- Reduce the heat to low, add sesame seeds and gradually add rice flour one spoon at a time, stirring it well until the mixture mixes well in the syrup. Continue adding the flour until a smooth dough is formed. I used all the flour. I turned of the heat before adding the last spoon of flour. Add all the flour and mix well. A smooth , soft dough should form.
- Srivalli says “the beauty of this dough is, you can store and use whenever you want. If it becomes too hard, just add about 2 tsp of water along with 2 tsp of sugar. Get it to boil, while you keep stirring it. The mix should become soft again. When you handle it, it should come together as a soft dough.”
- Divide the dough into 8 equal balls.
- Heat a pan for deep frying the ariselu.
- I used a ziploc bag to make the ariselu. Grease the bag with oil and place a dough ball on the sheet and press it with your fingers to make a circular disc like poori. Need not press it as thin as a poori.
- Press all the balls into round discs and put them aside. I made all the ariselu before beginning the frying process. By now the oil should be hot to deep fry the ariselu.
- Fry one at a time. Fry both sides until dark golden brown. I fried them on medium heat. Remove them and drain them paper towels and sprinkle some poppy seeds when the arise is still hot. This step, adding poppy seeds is not in the original recipe.
- I made my ariselu very thin. I realized it after frying a few; I found them to be very crisp. I remade the remaining ariselu little thicker and they came out soft and perfect. They were soft and crunchy, just as I remember eating them back home! I did not take a picture of the remade ariselu to show you how thick they ought to be.