Khotto & Mudo are two very traditional Mangalorean Konkani dishes that are prepared on auspicious/special events be it religious festivals or weddings, engagement parties and even during death anniversaries. Khotto is basically idlis ( rice-lentil cakes) that are made in moulds/cups made out of jackfruit leaves while Mudo is idli made in a cylindrical mould made out of some leaves that grow in the wild. It is believed that these are basically leaves of a plant that bears these flowers called "Bingaru".
Mudo is usually available during rainy season or the festival season in South Canara region. I cannot speak about elsewhere. If you are aware of other places that use these, please do share with us. Khotto, however is available all through the year as jackfruit leaves are available all year round. Most people have jackfruit trees in their backyards or somewhere close to them, so it is easily accessible to them. The problem however is that not everyone knows how to put the four jackfruit leaves together to make the Khotto cup/mould. I recently was in India on vacation and had a chance to videotape my mother making Khotto out of the leaves. I am going to share that video with you as soon as I have had a chance to edit it.
The batter used in both Khotto and Mudo is the basic idli batter except that during festivals, the rice in the idli batter is replaced with sooji or varai / samo. You can find the recipe for the same here. Just replace the rice with samo. The difference however is in flavor in each of these due to the leaves that are used. Each one imparts a distinctive flavor and smell to the idli which can only be understood by someone who has eaten them. It is truly a specialty. When I went home this time, I refused to eat mere idlis. I ate all the mudos and khottos that I could. Khottos and mudos take longer to cook due to the volume and density of each one of them depending on the size. Mudos take even longer than khottos to cook.
For the mould ( Khotto):
Jackfruit leaves: 24 medium leaves
Thin wooden skewers: 50 in number
For the mould ( Mudo): get readymade ones.
For the batter:
Urad dal: 1/2 cup
Cream of wheat( sooji): 1 cup
Water: 1 to 1 1/2 cups to grind urad dal
Salt to taste ( approximately 3/4 tsp)
Method:For the mould ( Khotto): See the pictorial below:
For the batter:
Soak Urad dal for at least 3-4 hours.
Wash sooji/cream of wheat thoroughly . Take it in a heat-proof bowl. Boil 5 cups water in the idli steamer/ pressure cooker, with the steamer plate in it. Place the bowl with the cream of wheat in it . Close the steamer/ pressure cooker and cook it for 10 mins on medium flame. Turn off the flame. Take the bowl out and let it cool down to room temperature.
Blend urad dal in a blender/ grinder , adding water little at a time until it rises to 3 times the volume you started with. Make sure you give the motor of the blender some rest in between. The consistency of the ground urad dal should be fluffy and light ,not runny.
Pour the blended urad dal in a big bowl/ container.
Now mix the steamed and cooled sooji ( cream of wheat) with the urad dal , cover and let it sit overnight to ferment. If living in cold region, you can keep it in the cold oven/ microwave overnight.
Next morning add salt to the batter and mix well.
Ensure that the batter has fermented well. You can know this when the batter has risen a little in the container. The consistency of the batter should be slightly thicker than the usual idli batter.
Putting it together :
Boil 500 ml of water in the idli steamer or pressure cooker with the steamer plate in.Fill the khotto/ mudo with batter until 2/3 full and steam in the idli steamer / pressure cooker ( without using the weight) on medium- high flame for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Mudo may need another extra 10-15 minutes before they are done. Turn off the heat and let it cool down in the steamer for another 10 minutes before taking them out of the mold.
Once completely cooled, you should be able to gently shake the mould and bring the steamed Khotto out in its entirety without breaking it and re-use the mould for another round of steaming. However, if you are apprehensive of breaking the Khotto, you can peel the mould and remove the Khotto out. In this case, you will no longer be able to re-use the mould.
Serve the khotto/mudo hot with sambar/ chutney or both.
Cooking made easy:
Usually for auspicious occasions, rice is not used for making Khotto/ Mudo. Instead sooji or varai ( samo) is used. For daily purposes, you could use idli rava ( rice rava) or soak and grind rice to make batter, as explained here.
Tip for healthy living:
Idli/ Khotto when served with coriander chutney or Sambhar becomes a complete meal with the essential portions of protein ( urad dal and tur dal), sooji/ rice rava( carbohydrates) and the vegetables in the Sambhar or the greens in chutney providing essential minerals and vitamins.
Food for thought:
What you do today can improve all your tomorrows. Ralph Marston