“Nesel Adde”/Steamed Cucumber cake( Mangalorean style)
Have you ever been nostalgic about a smell,something that brings memories flooding…well my home today smells of that nostalgic divine cucumber cake called “Nesel Adde”( in Tulu,my native language).Summer holidays in childhood meant a visit to Mangalore, where my Dodda’s/Grandmom’s lived in two different villages, both exceptional cooks,with a heart of gold,their biggest joy was in feeding the grandkids who came down for holidays and true to the word, each grandkid did complete justice to the deliciousness that was created in their kitchens.What does this “Nesel Adde” remind me of?…..well, we would play hide & seek around the house amidst the grains/brown rice stored in traditional “mudi’s”/brown rice stored in hay, creaky old wooden doors,antique cupboards and large copper vessels and all through the hiding this delicious smell would waft through the house waiting for snack time…the temptation was too strong to just reach out & grab a piece,yet we were not done with the game…happy memories…. when all you had to do was play outdoors amidst the fields, come home to delicious hot meals & yummy snacks , then go out and play again.Never did we stop to think what ingredients went into the great food my Dodda made, we could just list our favorite food on landing at her place & magically it appeared on the table, such was their love.Today as I walked into the fresh market ,I saw cucumbers of different sizes & shapes & what should kick in , but an instant memory…..nothing like hunger pangs to set up the motivation factor & here I was churning the magic potion to revisit my ancestral home again.I smiled to myself as I added a handful of “bajeel” or beaten rice to the recipe, just like my Dhodda would have…those days they never believed in measurements, it was always a handful of this and a handful of that, so today I practiced the same and it turned out just right smile emoticon…we need to give those fancy measuring cups a break , really!!
Traditionally, this magic potion is stirred in a traditional copper vessel & kept on burning coal, hence it has also got another name ” Ghenda da Adde” meaning Cake made on burning coal.Since that was not possible at home here, I resorted to the steamed version, minus the golden brown & the burnt taste it would have acquired had it been placed on burning coal, the taste was still the same…for those of us who have relished it, will understand that though it’s not much to look at, it can warm your very soul with its taste…yup, history revisited!
Rice- 2 cups ( parboiled/idli rice suits well)
Methi/fenugreek seeds- 1/4 tsp
Cucumber- 1 large( peeled and diced)
Onion- 1 large (finely chopped)
Fresh coconut gratings- 1 cup
‘Bajeel’/Beaten rice- a handful
Ghee/Clarified butter- 1/2 cup
Jaggery – 4-5 pieces ( adjust to taste)
Salt- to taste
Cashew nuts- 8-10
1.Soak rice with methi seeds for 3 hours.
2.Then grind rice,methi seeds, cucumber, coconut,beaten rice & jaggery to a coarse paste without adding any water, since the water from the cucumber is enough to grind the rice & the other ingredients.
3.In a pressure cooker, add the ghee & heat it, when warm, swirl it around gently along the sides( this makes it easy to remove the cake later, since it would not stick to the sides) add the cashews & raisins.To this add the chopped onions and sauté until browned.
4.Now add the ground mix to this & stir well adding salt to taste.
5.Put the lid on the pressure cooker, but do not place the weight on top, instead invert a tumbler/steel glass on top where the steam escapes to retain moisture.
6.Let it cook for an hour, on simmer.
7.Then remove lid gently along with the tumbler/ steel glass and then gently poke the cake with a toothpick to check if its done.If the batter does not stick to the toothpick, it is mostly done.Remove from heat & let it cool.
7.Once it’s cooled down, gently invert it on to a plate, cut & serve as desired.
Note: Make your ancestors proud, the food they fed you is reaching yonder shores with their signature aroma…..nothing sealed with love goes a waste EVER!