Recipe - Sanaas

Sanaas are beautiful, spongy rice cakes made in Goa to accompany spicy curries like Sorpatel and Vindaloo.

Like the South Indian Idli they are made with a special type of rice, which is soaked, ground and then fermented. In the case of the idli the Urad dhal creates the fermentation whereas with the Goan Sanaa, toddy is used. Unfortunately, this is not always available so in the recipe below we have used yeast.

How long you allow the batter to ferment is crucial. I’ve had my fair share of failures with this as the weather varies so much in Melbourne. So I find a fool proof method is to place the mixture in an oven that is heated. This takes the guesswork out of wondering whether the batter is ready to steam or not.

Using the original method involves soaking the rice overnight and this takes planning and time so sometimes I make it with Rice powder (the outcome of this method tastes a lot like a Chinese rice cake).   Here are the tried and tested recipes. You will not have disasters, I assure you.

WHOLE RICE METHOD – makes 14 to 18 Sanaas

  • Soak 2 cups Goan Red Rice or Idli Rice (available at any Indian store) for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to grind, turn on oven to 50 degrees
  • Drain the rice then grind with ½ cup fresh/desiccated coconut and 350ml coconut water (add a little at a time). Set aside some of this coconut water to swirl out the ground rice from the mixer into a glass bowl.
  • Empty the batter into a glass bowl then stir in 1 teaspoon dry yeast and 2 tablespoons sugar.
  • Place rice mixture in warm oven and turn on the timer for 3 hours (if you leave it in longer you will get a fermented taste).
  • In the meantime, oil moulds (usually vaatis- see picture - are used for this but you can use egg poaching cups or an idli steamer.  Another option is to use any shallow pie dish).
  • When the timer goes off, stir 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Use a ladle and half fill the moulds with batter.
  • Steam for 13 minutes
  • Use a knife to lever the rice cake out.

 

RICE POWDER METHOD

  • Heat oven to 50 degrees
  • Mix 200ml warm water (20 secs in the microwave) with 2 teaspoons dry yeast and 2 level tablespoons sugar
  • Set aside till it starts to froth
  • When ready add 400ml coconut milk and 2 cups rice flour to the yeast mixture
  • Mix thoroughly
  • Turn off oven
  • Place rice mixture in warm oven and turn on the timer for 40 minutes (if you leave it in longer you will get a fermented taste).
  • In the meantime, oil moulds (usually vaatis are used for this but you can use egg poaching cups or an idli steamer.  Another option is to use any shallow pie dish make and slice into wedges when serving)
  • When the timer goes off, stir in 1 /2 cup desiccated coconut and 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Steam for 20 minutes

NOTE: Best served fresh, but these tasty rice cakes lend themselves to being frozen.