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In this A-Z Journey Through Telangana Cuisine, for ‘S’ I have a traditional Telangana snack, sakinalu. Sakinalu are deep fried, round concentric shaped snack prepared with freshly ground rice flour. This is one of the first recipes to be cooked for this BM, along with chegodi back in January, when I was visiting my mom in India. Also, this was my only choice for S. Though this was prepared long ago, this is the most procrastinated post of this marathon. Even last night, I sat down to draft & edit pictures for the post and I ended up editing other pictures that were not even going to be used this month and for this marathon. I wanted to write so much as these sakinalu are so dear to us. In the eleventh hour, it was so overwhelming to pen down what all I wanted to write. Wish I had drafted this post in bits and parts, whenever I remembered what I all I wanted to say. I will try to do the best I can. The other reason I lost my enthusiasm in this post is bad pictures. As I mentioned in my chegodi post, though I carried my high end P&S camera with me to India, I just wasn’t in a mood to take any pictures for the blog. I ended up taking these pictures with my iPhone, after almost a week after we prepared the palaharam (snacks).
Sakinalu are one of the most liked traditional snacks and as far as I know, these are prepared only in Telangana region. There might be a similar version of these in other regions but I have never seen anyone make such thin concentric circles of sakinalu as we do in Telangana. I have seen some recipes online and the sakinalu are not as thinly made as they are supposed to be. Actually, even some of the sakinalu that we made are not as thin as they use to be years ago.
Most often prepared sakinalu are salty, white, plain sakinalu that are not spicy. My favorite though are karam sakinalu that are spiced with ripe red chilies paste. Karam sakinalu have slightly thicker rows of circles. No matter how fine the chili paste is ground into, the dough becomes slightly coarse due the paste. This is the reason rows of karam sakinalu are slightly thicker than plain sakinalu. These are usually eaten as a teatime snack, sometimes for breakfast if the lunch is going to be served early or if not in a mood to make breakfast 🙂 Basically, these can be munched on any time of the day. Plain sakinalu can be served with some pickle; tomato or mango pickle. I prefer dipping plain sakinalu in tomato pickle. Karam sakinalu do not need any dipping as the sakinalu are already seasoned with chili paste. When we were kids, I loved powdered sakinalu. Old people usually prefer powdered sakinalu as they do not have to chew them.. 🙂
Sankinalu are a must preparation for Sankranti and weddings. It is customary to give sakinalu to groom’s family, who then distributes it among their relatives. This tradition of giving sakinalu to groom’s family is called saare. Apart from sakinalu, other snacks & sweets such as karijalu, boondi laddu, karapoosa are also given. I might have missed mentioning a few more snacks. Saare palaharam (snacks) is usually big in size. Each sakinam (singular) can have anywhere from 21+ rows depending on the family tradition and 1 kg / little over a pound of rice flour will yield only 3 – 4 sakinalu depending on the size of the saare sakinam. Laddus are as big as a big oranges and karijalu as big as an adult’s hand. You get the drift of the size of each snack for saare. However, nowadays some people prefer small sakinalu and request the bride’s family to send small sakinalu as it is easy to pack, distribute and taste better than the saare sakinalu. This has become a lot easy on the bride’s family as making one saare sakinam takes at least 15 – 20 minutes and depending on the family custom, at least 100+ sakinalu have to be sent to groom’s family. However, nowadays a lot of home run business have come up who make these sakinalu and other traditional snacks on order.
I found a video on youtube of one such home run business. In this video, saare sakinalu are featured. If I am not mistaken, this is the same place my mother-in-law use to order palaharam and they make very tasty palaharam. As far as I remember, the place where my MIL use to order was the first home run business Telangana palahram (snacks) of such kind and magnitude in the city and there was only one in Nacharam, Hyderabad area back then, in 2003 or 2004. Since this place is away from the main city, my MIL use to place order for rest of the family members (her sisters and nephews) as well, pickup the order and then distribute it. This place is about 20-30 minutes drive in no traffic from our place and it is closest to our place compared to rest of the family. Video is in Telugu and for those of you who do not know the language, the lady says they have 30-40 workers to make various palaharam (snacks) and they try to deliver as fresh palaharam as possible. Even if the order is placed a month ago, they prepared it on the same day or couple of days before the delivery date, if it is saare palaharam, as preparing saare palharam is time consuming. Please do check the video from 16 minutes point to see how big the saare sakinam is and how it is transferred from the surface to hot oil for deep frying using a flat plate. To check the size of the saare sakinam, you can also watch for few seconds from 5 minutes point.
I cannot roll or make sakinalu. This past December when I was in India, I asked mom to make some for the blog. Since Sankranti was approaching, she decided to make it few days before Sankranti. I requested cousin A to help with the preparation. Sakinalu are a time consuming preparation and requires lot of patience. I asked amma to make a small batch, with just ¼th or ½ kg of rice. As I mentioned in chegodi post, cousin A is very quick in the kitchen and she insisted on making sakinalu with 1 kg rice. As I mentioned above, basic sakinalu or tella (white) sakinalu are seasoned with salt. These can be made spicy by adding fresh red chili paste. Another variation is green chilies paste. I wanted only one flavored sakinalu but cousin A divided the dough into two and made red sakinalu using red chili paste and green or slightly greenish sakinalu with green chili paste. She kept a side small amount of dough for white sakinalu as well but those were handful and we finished most of it even before I could take pictures. I was left with slightly burnt plain sakinalu. I am posting the picture anyway, to give you an idea how plain sakinalu look. When I took the pictures, I did not notice that man in the news paper. It looks so odd and that is another reason I was not really enthusiastic with the pictures for this post. You will have to tolerate that man again, in my blackeyed peas garelu (chekkalu) pictures, when I post it next month.. I some have managed to crop out the face from below image, hence the image has a weird angle.
We made three types of sakinalu:
Tella (white) Sakinalu – are seasoned with salt and no chili paste or powder in plain/tella sakinalu. These are commonly referred to as sakinalu.
Karam Sakinalu ~ Erra (red) Sakinalu – the recipe is same as plain sakinalu but for addition of pandu miram (ripe red chili paste) to spice it up. When fresh, ripe red chilies are in season, chilies are ground to paste with salt and stored in the fridge for up to a year or even longer and used whenever required. Below is the video of my cousin shaping karam sakinalu.
Pachi Mirchi Sakinalu – The recipe is same as plain sakinalu but green chilies paste is added to spice up sakinalu. Green chilies are ground to paste with some garlic cloves. Finely chopped kothmir ~ cilantro and green onions are also add to the flour before making a dough and mind you, very few finely chopped leaves are added, as it gets difficult to shape the sakinam if there are many coarse ingredients in the dough. These spicy sakinalu were not very common when growing up. It was always tella sakinalu and karam (red) sakinalu.
In the recipe below, I gave the basic tella sakinalu recipe followed by what needs to be added to make spicy sakinalu. I also elaborated the steps in the preparation to give some extra details and my preparation section got very long. It is not that complicated though it is time consuming. The steps involved are making fresh rice flour, make the dough, shape the sakinalu and deep fry. That’s it!! Below is a video of my cousin shaping a spicy green chilies sakinam.
Before getting to the recipe, here are a few legumes, vegetables and dishes starting with ‘S’.
Senagakaya /senakaya – Hare Bhoot or Choliya (Hindi) ~ Fresh Garbanzo Beans / Fresh Green Chana
Senaga Pappu – Chana Dal
Sorakaya / Anyapakaya – Lauki (Hindi) ~ Bottle Gourd
Shakkara – Sugar
Sarva pindi, Senaga pappu koora (chana dal fry), senaga pappu (this is baked version of chana dal), sorakaya pachadi (bottle gourd chutney), sorakaya koora, sorakaya sogi or masala sorakaya, sorakaya pulusu, soogi pachadi/thokku(mango pickle with sesame seeds being the base), shorva, senagakaya ginjalu (green garbanzo saute), senagakaya annam (green garbanzo pulao)
Soogi – is a generic word used to vegetable curries where the dominating ingredient of the masala is sesame seeds. Sorakaya and beerakaya are the two vegetables that are commonly used. This is nothing but masala sorakaya and masala beerakaya respectively.
Soogi is also referred to mango pickle where the base of the pickle has more sesame seeds than the other mango pickles. This is also called noogaya pachadi.
Shorva – is one of the most common prepared stews or gravy in my family and relative circles, though this is not common across Telangana. Sometimes, even Telangana people don’t know what I am talking about when I bring up shorva. When growing up and until I started blogging, I never really looked into where and how this dish might have made into our households. My theory is that it is an adaptation of shorba of Hyderabad cuisine and over the years was modified to suite the palate of local Telugu people. Over the years, shorba became shorva. Shorba is a Persian word for stew or soup and shorwa in Afghani. It was introduced to the locals either by the Qutub Shahi rulers of Golconda or the Nizams of Hyderabad and my guess is the latter. Shorva is such an integral part of our (my family and relatives circle) daily cuisine that I can’t ignore mentioning it just because I am doing Telugu Telangana Cuisine. Some form of shorva is prepared in almost every household who prepares it, at least 2-3 times a week. In our family, this is the go to recipe for breakfast if rotis or pooris are on the menu, if there are unexpected guesses and have to make a meal in a jiffy or a great side dish for bagara, pulaos and even biryani. Most often prepared vegetarian version of shorva is tomato shorva, which I shall talk about in detail in tomorrow’s post and chicken / mutton for non veg. You can check the shorva recipes have in this space, here.
Preparation Time: 1 ½ – 2 hours (if one person is preparing and excludes the time required to pound fresh rice flour)
Yields: 40 depending on the size, thickness and number of rounds
Note: Except for rice flour and sesame seeds, measures for rest of the ingredients are approximate
Basic ~ Plain ~ Tella Sakinalu –
- 5 glasses Freshly Ground Biyyam Pindi ~ Rice Flour
- 3 glasses Nuvvulu ~ Sesame Seeds
- 1 – 1 ½ tsp. Jilakara ~ Cumin
- 1 tbsp. Oma ~ Ajwain
- Salt to taste
- Oil for deep frying
For Karam ~ Erra Sakinalu
- 2 tbsp. (approx.) Fresh Red Chilies Paste for ½ the recipe listed above.
For Green Chilies Sakinalu
- Green Chilies and Garlic Cloves Paste, to taste
- Cilantro ~ Kothimir Leaves + Green Onions, finely chopped about 2 tbsp for ½ the recipe listed above
- Soak rice for 3 hours. Discard water and put the rice in a strainer for 10-15 minutes to drain away any remaining water. Grind the rice to powder/flour in a mixie. Sieve the rice and grind coarse rice again and sieve. Flour is ready to be used. Here in the US, rice flour from Chinese store can be used. Make sure the ingredient list has water and rice on it. 1 kg rice = 4 glasses of rice = 6 glasses of rice flour and 1 glass rice flour = 1 ½ US measuring cup rice flour
- Wash sesame seeds and let drain.
- In a wide bowl take all the ingredients except water and oil.
- Mix the ingredients until well blended. Taste flour mixture and adjust salt to taste. If you can not really make out, sprinkle some water on a small portion of the flour mixture and taste it. It is easier to season the mixture when dry. If making spicy sakinalu, add red chili paste or green chili paste in this step.
- Add water and make the dough. It should be a soft and not very watery dough.
- Spread a thick cloth on the floor or on a dining table where you would be making the sakinalu.
- Take some dough in hand a make a small human kind of figure, one dough ball as head and slightly bigger one as the body, as in the collage above. It is customary to make such figurine with the dough, apply sindoor (vermilion) and turmeric powder to it. First sakinam is made around this figure. This figure is considered to be goddess Gauri. Once the sakinalu are prepared, this Gauramma (goddess Gauri’s figurine) is put in the rice dabba (box) or in tulasi (holy basil) plant.
- Take a small gooseberry size dough in your fingers. Facing your fingers towards the surface, roll the dough between fingers and make round circles. Check the videos above to see how the sakinalu are made.
- Repeat above step to make rest of the sakinalu.
- Once the sakinalu are dry, you will know when the sakinalu are dry, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, heat oil for deep frying. For this quantity of sakinalu, I would suggest making all the sakinalu before you begin deep frying. I forgot to note how long it took but it took about 30 – 45 minutes for my mother and cousin to make all the sakinalu.
- Using a flat plate, lift the sakinalu and transfer to oil. You can stack 3-4 sakinalu at a time and then slide the whole lot into oil at once. You can check the first video at 16:30 seconds to see how the sakinalu are transferred to plate and then slid into hot oil.
- Depending on the size of the pan, you can fry more than one sakinam (singular) at a time. To maintain the same temperature of oil, always keep the flame on medium high to high. If the oil is very hot, reduce the flame.
- After dropping the sakinalu in oil, wait for them to float in oil and then turn the sakinalu around. Keep turning the sakinalu for even frying on both sides. Fry until done. You can do a taste test to figure out how long to fry when you fry the first batch. Using a garela pulla (a metal skewer like gadget which is used to remove any deep fried food that has hole in the middle, such as garelu (vada), chegodi or sakinam), line all the sakinalu on the rod and remove from oil. Place this rod on a vessel to let the oil drips down into the vessel. If you do not have a garela pulla, a long metal skewer can be used or a wide slotted spoon will work as well. Once oil is dripped, place these on paper towel or newspaper to drain any remaining oil.
- Repeat the last three steps to fry rest of the sakinalu.
- When sakinalu are completely cool, store in an airtight container. These stay fresh for at least 2 weeks at room temperature and for months in the fridge. However, if storing in the fridge, bring them to room temperature before savoring.
- Measuring Glass – The glass used is equal to ¼ kg of grains.
1 glass of rice = ¼ kg of rice
1 ½ glasses of rice flour = ¼ kg rice flour
1 glass rice flour = 1 ½ US measuring cup rice flour
- Rice Flour – Here in the US, we can use the rice flour sold in Chinese stores. The ingredient list on the packet should read rice and water. This rice flour works for sakinalu and some of my aunts use it to make sakinalu here. This rice flour also works for ariselu.
- Sesame Seeds – The ratio of sesame seeds to rice flour in weight is 1:2. In glass measure, it is 2:3 sesame seeds to rice flour, as 1 ½ glasses of rice flour = ¼ kg rice flour
- Dough – If the dough becomes very sticky due to excess water in plain sakinalu dough, cover it with a dry cloth or roll it on dry cloth. The cloth will absorb excess water. If this happens with karam sakinalu or green chilies sakinalu dough, the only option is adding more flour. Usually cloth can not absorb as much moisture from spicy sakinalu dough. This is according to my cousin A.
- Time to Prepare Sakinalu – Cousin A says, if one is make sakinalu very fast, that is rolling and circles with dough between fingers, then it would take about 30 – 45 minutes max for 1 kg rice. If one is a bit slow, it can easily take one hour. On regular kitchen stove and depending on the size of the pan, it takes about an hour to fry all the sakinalu. She said she is making some sakinalu tomorrow and if possible, she will try to time the preparation and let me know how long it took her to make sakinalu with 1 kg rice. Will update the post when she gets back to me.
This day in 2012: Guacaole
This day in 2014: Kadugu Yerra from Pondicherry
This day in 2015: Flax Seed Whole Wheat Blueberry Mini Muffins
Events: This post also goes to A-Z Challenge for day 19, letter ‘S’.
So far in this A-Z Journey Through Telangana Cuisine,
A for Attu Tunukala Koora
B for Biyyapattlu
C for Chegodi
D for Dondakaya Barada
E for Ellipaya Karam
F for Fenugreek (Menthi) Aaku Pesaru Pappu Koora
G for Garela Pulusu
H for Hyacinth Beans (Anapakaya) Annam
I for Iguru, Goru Chikkudukaya Iguru
J for Jonna Rotte
K for Kudumulu
L for Laddu
M for Makka Gudaalu
N for Nethichamili Muddalu
O for Odappalu
P for Pappu & Pachi Pulusu
Q for Qimah Vundalu
R for Royyala Koora