Steamed foods are suited for everyone as they do not use oil and none of the nutrients are lost. When we boil vegetables, we tend to throw away the water and thus in the process tend to throw away most of the nutritional content in the veggie. And when we fry them, we use oil and because of the heat some of the nutrients are broken down which again leads to loss of nutrients. But steaming foods guarantees you 100% nutrient content with zero fat and is immensely healthy. Since, a lot of people are now becoming diet conscious there are a lot of steamed dishes that are becoming popular.
The South Indian cuisine mostly consists of steamed foods and thus are the healthiest considered against the dishes of other cuisines. The process of steaming is the easiest as it does not require you to sweat it out in the kitchen. There are a lot of electronic steamers that come with a timer, so you can just switch it on and relax. Steamed food are the most famous in Thailand, China and Korean cuisine and you will probably find them at the top when you search for the most popular steamed dishes.
Below are some of the dishes that I find are the best when it comes to steamed foods in India.
What are we waiting for? Let’s go!
This is the first dish that comes to my mind when I think of steamed dishes. Idli is the signature dish of the South Indian cuisine. These steamed cakes are the best when one considers steamed food and health. This particular dish is made using a fermented rice batter that is poured into moulds that are specially designed for this particular dish. In a typical South Indian household, this dish is eaten for both breakfast and dinner and is usually paired off with coconut chutney and sambar.
How can one forget momos when there is a talk of steamed food going on? This Taiwanese dish which is gaining popularity all over India is liked by both elders and children alike. These are considered the ideal snack in the north-eastern part of India. It is so popular among them that it has become the must have dish when one visits these parts of India. I particularly am biased for the one stuffed with cabbage and like to have them with spicy chutney that is solely made of chilies. It is so hot that even if you just taste it with the tip of your tongue you will feel the burn.
3 Steamed Seafood
Seafood when steamed tastes the best. How many of you will agree with me, that I don’t know, but this technique helps to keep all the juices of the seafood within it and helps to preserve the nutrients. Steaming seafood is becoming a popular method all over the world, not just in India. There are various dishes with seafood and some of them include whole steamed fish, steamed fish with Pak Choi, steamed oysters, Bhapa mach and many more. Many times root veggies and leeks are added to the dishes to give them that extra flavoring. There are so many recipes; I think that I may have to write a whole new article regarding them.
4 Palak Vada
For those who don’t know what Palak means it is none other than Spinach. I love spinach and maybe can even compete with Popeye (gosh! how I miss that Cartoon!). So this is a recipe that I found was very good considering the fact that Vadas are actually deep fried in oil. But these hot steamed vadas are so good and it would give the good old recipe a run for its money. I actually found the recipe online and found them to be good. Try them once; you will surely not believe it.
Finally, I decided to add a north Indian dish to the list and that is none other than our all-time favorite- Dhoklas. Now I think that my North Indian, especially Gujarati readers are happy. Okay, so about this dish. This dish is prepared using rice and split chickpeas. These are soaked and then made into a batter, fermented and finally steamed. It can be had any time but my favorite time is to have them as evening snacks along with a cup of tea or coffee. It is an ideal party snack.
6 Corn Panki
For those who don’t know what a Panki is,don’t worry I’ll tell you. Panki is a dish where a batter is steamed between banana leaves. This method gives the dish a typical sweetness due to the banana leaves and also increases the nutrient content of the dish. Corn Panki is nothing but a batter of corn, semolina and few spices that are steamed between banana leaves. This is a purely Gujarati dish and like Dhokla, this dish is also an all time favorite and quite old.
7 Cabbage Jowar Muthias
Muthias is another Gujararti snack. They are a type of steamed cutlets. This is a great hangover dish as cabbage has been associated with hangover for many centuries and the Greeks used to use them for the medicinal properties that they possess. Cabbage in this dish adds nice crunch to the dish. Since Jowar is also added in this dish, it can also be considered by those who are extremely diet conscious. Jowar is many times associated with reducing weight. Steaming and Jowar, this dish definitely gives you a double benefit.
Now who doesn’t love the standard steamed corn? Everyone does. And if they are then mixed with salted butter and pepper, it is like cherry on the cake. I love corn. Especially the steamed ones as it helps to the keep the juices of the corn within it. If they are boiled, the juices just flow out along with the water. There are many flavors which are available in shops. The recently added flavor was the barbeque flavor. I swear these corns will be the death of me. They are responsible.
9 Moong Dal Panki
Another Panki dish that has found its way into the list is the Moong Dal Panki. Moong Dal is considered one of the most nutritious of pulses given the high protein content in it. So for all the protein lovers out there, I present to you the ultimate dietary protein supplement cum snack, The Moong Dal Panki. And since it is steamed in banana leaf it is nutritious and delicious.
10 Ela Ada
Ada is one of the signature Kerala dish. Like Panki, this dish is also steamed between banana leaves. In this dish rice flour is kneaded into dough and filled with coconut and jaggery filling and then steamed between banana leaves. It is also given as ‘Prasadam’ meaning ‘offering’ in many Lord Ganesha temples of Kerala. It is also considered as the ideal tea-time snack by the Keralites. This recipe gives you a complete taste of the Gods own country.
11 Chocolate Pudding
Chocolate Pudding is actually native to Britain, but now it is becoming extremely popular among the affluent families in India. There are actually two types of chocolate puddings. One is the custard version and THE other is the steamed version. Both of these are popular. It is somewhat similar to the Christmas pudding. But no worries it still tastes good.
12 Honey Sponge Cake
I love cakes and I am biased to the honey flavored ones. As for the matter of sponge, well, everyone likes sponges. Sponges are tricky to make because of the tedious work of folding the batter so that the air bubbles in the batter do not pop. In this particular dish, the sponge is steamed which gives it that extra softness owing to the water in the steamer. Combine it with some sour cream for the best experience as the sour cream reduces the extra sweetness in the cake.
This particular dish is not that well known but is famous in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The savory version is famous in Kerala whereas the sweet version is popular in Tamil Nadu. Puttu is a simple dish of steamed rice flour along with grated coconut. It can be given any shape and it depends upon the utensil used. In Kerala, the tube-shaped Puttu version is famous and is eaten with a curry of chickpeas. In Tamil Nadu it is considered more or less a snack and is eaten in the evenings. It is not only made with rice flour but also many other flours. Puttu is just steamed flour.
There are many types of custard but the one here is obviously steamed. Basic custard recipe involves milk, eggs and corn flour. The flavor can be determined by us. The standard one is the vanilla. The custard batter is then poured into moulds and steamed in a double boiler or any other method. One famous version of custard is the Crème Brule where after the custard is cooked it is given a generous coating of sugar and is then blow torched. This gives the custard a crackling crust. Try it, its scrumptious!
So here I come with another South Indian dish and that is the Idiyappam. Idiyappam is a dish involving rice flour which is kneaded into dough and then later passed through an Idiyappam machine which squeezes out the dough into strings (alike noodles). These strings are then placed on a plate and steamed. They are usually paired with sweetened coconut milk or coconut shavings and sugar. It can also be eaten along with sambar. It is the Indian version of Noodles.
16 Ammini Kozhakatai
These are actually the south Indian version of a dumpling. In this dish the standard kozhukattai dish is given a new dimension by tossing it in spices. They are another ideal snack item. (I have mentioned them a lot, isn’t it? * gives an endearing smile* bear with me please.). We will talk more about kozhukattai ahead in the article.
17 Steamed Chicken
I know chicken can also be steamed. But it does not taste as good as fish does wth this style of cooking. But it is tender. Chicken can be steamed whole or as pieces and tastes bland compared to fish but is still good enough to make the list. There are a whole lot of recipes involving steamed chicken. Google them up and enjoy. (I’m just too lazy to mention them here.)
18 Bhapa Aloo
Bhapaa in Bengali means steamed. So the name of this dish literally translates to ‘steamed Potato’. In this dish, the potatoes are steamed and then cooked in a curry of coconut and spices. It thus gives a typical Bengali dish. Have fun eating this addictive dish.
As I mentioned earlier, that I would be back with more information on kozhukattai and here I am. There are many dishes involving kozhukattai. Basically kozhukattai is a small rice flour ball steamed. There is another dish which is somewhat similar to Ela ada except that it is not steamed between banana leaves and is steamed just like that in a steamer. It is tasty, mind me! Another is where the kozhukattai is put in a sweet broth made of milk, coconut and jaggery. It makes it Paal Kozhukattai. There are a lot of other dishes do try them.
Patra is a Gujarati dish made with Cola cassia leaves which are called ‘Arbi ka Patta’ in Hindi. In this dish the leaves are layered with spices in between, rolled and steamed. They are later cut and served. It is an overwhelming dish and since it has leaves in it, it is also healthy. So do try them.