I had posted the recipe for sannas previously, but it somehow got lost in the blog. So I decided to repost, as I have received several requests for the recipe for this popular and delicate rice cake/ bread. This time I even have pictures!
Sannas are popular all over Mangalore, and are traditionally eaten with pork sorpotel or chicken curry. They taste awesome with a chicken curry as they soak up the curry beautifully. The original recipe uses palm alcohol (toddy) in order to ferment the rice mixture, but as toddy is not available in this country (its highly illegal too ;-)) I use a yeast mixture. You really do need a very powerful blender to grind here as the rice needs to be ground really fine, until you cannot feel any coarseness in the batter and its as smooth as cream.
There is a difference between the idli and sanna. The idli is coarser, while sannas are softer and fluffier. Sannas can also be served at breakfast with a coconut chutney.
Sannas are traditionally made with a kind of rice called 'boiled rice'. The name is misleading, as the rice is not really boiled. Its a kind of rice that resembles arborio rice, but is not arborio either. You can buy this type of rice in the UK and other Western countries in Asian specialty shops [ask for Idli Rice]. This rice is soaked with basmati rice, cleaned urad dal (white black gram, duh! available in most Indian shops) and beaten rice (called poha, which is optional, if you use idli rice), and left to ferment overnight.
The idlis are cooked in small steel ramekins called gindlan, and steamed in a tondor, which is not available in the UK as yet. However, you can use thin ramekins and a three tier normal steamer as well. The shape may not be perfect, but they'll taste just as good.
Recipe: 1 1/2 cup 'boiled rice' [Idli Rice] 3/4 cup basmati rice 1/4 cup beaten rice (optional) 1/4 cup cleaned white urad dal 3 tablespoons white sugar or to taste 1 - 2 tsp salt or to taste 1 teaspoon yeast dissolved in a tablespoon of warm water Water for grinding the batter
In a bowl, soak the idli rice, basmati rice, urad dal and beaten rice (if using) for roughly 4 hours. Drain all the water out.
Using a powerful blender, grind the soaked mixture, sugar and salt, using enough water to achieve the consistency of very thick cream. The trick is to start with less water and increase it as you go. If the resulting mixture is too thick, you can thin it to the needed consistency by adding water later. If the mixture is too thin, add rice flour to thicken it. Best to avoid having to do this though.
Pour the batter into a large bowl (leave enough room in the bowl for the batter to rise by about a third) and stir in the dissolved yeast.
Leave the batter in the bowl, in a warm place to ferment and rise. Leave in a fridge overnight, but if you're rushed at least 4 hours in a warmer place.
When you are ready to steam your sannas, prepare the ramekins or gindlan by greasing them very well with vegetable or coconut oil. This step is important, as the sannas will stick to the ramekins otherwise. Then pour a little batter into the ramekin (about a third of the way). Leave room in the ramekin for the sanna to rise.
When you have about 6 ramekins prepared, pop them into the top two tiers of the steamer or your tondor, and let them steam for 8 - 10 minutes. Check by poking a toothpick into a sanna, if its doesn't have wet batter sticking to it, its ready.
Carefully take out the ramekins and leave them to cool completely in a water bath with ice in it. Once cold, turn the ramekin upside down and the sanna should slide out easily. If it doesn't carefully run a knife around it to loosen and push it out using your fingers. Wash and oil the ramekins again and make a few more batches until the batter is all used up. The batter keeps in the fridge for up to two days, and sannas freeze very well. Just microwave for about 30 seconds to get back their softness.
Serve with any kind of curry or chutney. Or make sannwiches for breakfast (slice sannas in half, spread with jam, sandwich... my little girl adores these!!)