Sannas (Goan food)
Some Goan curries just don’t taste right with anything other than sannas – these little rice and coconut steamed things. I have never attempted them before but was surpised how easy they were to make. In Goa they are made with toddy (the sap of the coconut tree (I think), which is also the basis for the very special Goa vinegar). Toddy is tapped early in the morning, before sunrise as it ferments very easily. I remember being made to drink some of it on early mornings when we were on our twice annual holiday in Goa. Any that was left over was used in the cooking or set down for vinegar. I am sure I would like the taste of it a lot more now that I am an adult.
Thinking about what I could use to replace the toddy effect in the sanna batter, I decided to give some of my sourdough starter a try. Afterall it is natural yeasts, slightly sour and has the rising effect that bakers yeast (which is what people who don’t have access to toddy use) would deliver. (Ok I admit that the real reason I thought of sourdough is that I was in the midst of a sourdough obsession.)
The process and ingredients were pretty simple. The day before you want to make these, soak three cups of basmati rice in water for a few hours and then using a little coconut milk for liquid grind the rice to a fairly smooth paste (you don’t want it totally smooth). Don’t add too much liquid while grinding the rice, you want the batter quite thick – like a cake batter. When the rice has almost reached the required level of fineness, add in one grated fresh coconut and grind for a few more minutes. Most people use a lot less fresh coconut, but I figured that since I had the coconut (bought and grated just for this) I would be extravagant with it. And I like them to have a fairly strong coconut taste. Add a teaspoon or two of salt, a tablespoon of sugar and half a cup of sourdough starter (or a tablespoon of yeast). Mix well and leave it to stand overnight so that it ferments slightly and rises. The batter will get light and airy when it has risen enough. Put a tablespoon or two into little bowls that you have oiled well, and steam for about 10 minutes. You end up with a slightly sweet (from the coconut) with a hint of sourness, fluffy little cake that goes perfectly well with a really hot, spicy Goan curry.