Sunday Special! Sheviyo Ani Kunkdachi Kadi (Stringhoppers/Rice Noodles & Chicken Curry)

This is probably the billionth time that I am writing the word 'favourite'. How else do I describe Sheviyo - Mangalore's very own steamed rice noodle? Called as Stringhoppers in English, it's closest cousin is the Keralite Noolputtu/Idiyappam which according to me are slightly thinner noodles - more like a hybrid between the cooked vermicelli & the Sheviyo. The Keralite version of this delicacy is made by using rice powder and the process of creating these delicate strands of flour requires a handy, portable cylindrical machine similar to the chakli maker. Batter is poured into it and a handle is wound to compress the batter which comes out of a fine slotted steel disc placed at the bottom of the cylinder. The Noolputtu is then steamed in a steamer and served hot with a dash of grated coconut. Yum! (Did I tell you I totally LOVE Mallu food as much as I love Mangy food? - I have loads of great Mallu friends and I have been tasting their food since my college days).

Sheviyo is made by reversing this process. Instead of rice flour, rice grains are soaked & ground to a thick paste which is then formed into lumps and steamed till done. These lumps are then quickly passed through a larger apparatus called the 'Shevgo' in Konkani. If you are wondering where to buy the Shevgo, well, it's available in a few 'Mangalore Stores' outlets in Mumbai. I picked up mine for about Rs.800 a couple of years ago & it was well worth the investment even though I use it just a couple of times a year - as it needs an extra person for steering the wheel :-) For those of you who live outside India and cannot carry one abroad, I suggest you pick up the chakli maker which has 5-6 steel discs with different kinds of shapes suitable to make chaklis and sevai & other Indian dry snacks. The slotted disc will be handy to make the Sheviyo provided you add unsteamed batter & then steam it like the Noolputtu (DO NOT make the mistake of stuffing steamed batter into a tiny chakli maker - it will get stuck forever like glue - this is a tried & tested attempt that flopped which compelled me to make the wise investment of buying the Shevgo :-)

The Chakli Maker

The Shevgo requires two people to maneuver. One who puts the freshly steamed lumps of dough into the cylinder (almost like a copper lota) with fine slots at the bottom and the other person who helps compress the dough by turning a handle - tough job I must say, but it's fun too as Sheviyo making time always helps strike up a great camaraderie between these two people even if they are the worst of enemies :-) The Sheviyo which begin to form into noodles and get squeezed out of the cylinder are quickly collected in a dish. Authentically, in Mangalore instead of a dish halved strips of the Banana tree stem are used which helps to retain the long strands of Sheviyo without having to break them. Fun isn't it? I wonder who thought of this great practice, either ways, we must give credit to the great minds who knew to make use of everything from their gardens. What seems amazing & mind boggling for us tissue paper users was common practice in those golden days.

The Mangalorean Shevgo

While the most popular way of eating the Sheviyo is with a chicken/mutton gravy (which are usually of a thinner consistency than regular gravies), one can enjoy them dipped in Sweet Coconut Roce (coconut milk flavoured with cardamom & palm jaggery (surai god)). Leftover Sheviyo is re-steamed the next day and converted into a savoury upma by tempering it with mustard, kadipatta etc. So you see, Mangalorean 'Poli' (steamed/fried rice items like sannas, appams, panpolo(neer dosa), bakri, mutli etc) are versatile as there are many ways to eat one dish - sweet, savoury or plain - take your pick!


Recipe Source: My mum
Makes 8-10 'ghos' (portion of sheviyo derived from each compress)
Serves 6-8 people

You Need:
1. Soak rice for a minimum 2-3hours and grind it to a fine paste with as little water as possible - adding 1-2 tbsp of water only if you are using a mixer grinder that refuses to co-operate. Try to retain as thick a batter as possible (it should not be runny)
2. Make 4-5 portions of this thick batter and place them onto a cloth/bairas
3. Place a Tondor (steamer) with sufficient water on full flame and bring it to a boil. Place the cloth with the portions of batter into the steaming vessel and steam for 15-20minutes when the dough looks transparent
4. Prepare the 'Shevgo' by greasing the weight & compress cylinder with some cooking oil.
5. Open the steamer & remove one ball/portion of steamed dough & place into the cylinder. The weight needs to be positioned to hover right above the cylinder & the handles of the Shevgo need to be turned to release the weight rolling down into place. Press tightly to release Sheviyo, collect them immediately from below & roll back the handles of the Shevgo to repeat this process
6. Place Sheviyo on a Kurpon (disc woven out of reed) to cool off.
7. Serve Sheviyo with Chicken/Mutton curry or with coconut sweet roce (recipe to follow)

Chicken Curry
Recipe Source: My mum-in-law
Serves 6
You Need:
1. Dry roast the ingredients (dry chillies, coriander, pepper, mustard, jeera, onions, garlic) one by one on a hot tawa. Powder the dry ingredients (minus the onions & garlic) first if you are using a mixer grinder and then add the onions, garlic, grated coconut, tamarind & garam masala. Grind to a fine paste using a little water
2. Boil the chicken with 1 onion sliced (toss it in the pan with the chicken, no need to fry it first & all that jazz) and salt and a little water if required. Cook until chicken is done.
3. Add the ground masala to the chicken & bring it to a boil.
4. Heat a small pan, add ghee and when its smoking hot toss in the 1/2 sliced onion, reduce the flame to avoid burning. This is the Fon/Tadka/Tempering - Add this to the chicken gravy and serve hot!

1. If you don't have both the varieties of the chillies just use the Byadge variety or even Kashmiri chillies will do (although the final dish may not taste 100% authentic Mangalorean). To tone down the spice remove the seeds from the chillies. If you are serving this dish to kids you may want to use not more than 6-7 deseeded Byadge chillies - this is what I do these days!

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