I'm probably making a digression from this competition in the sense that I've chosen to make my rice noodles from first principles (or scratch). I had never tasted rice noodles from a package until I came to this country. As a kid, it was always a rare treat for me and I would look forward to the day when my mother would haul out the 'tram engine steering wheel' (as my dad fondly used to refer to the antique brass noodle press ). Rice would be soaked, ground to a smooth paste and cooked into a sticky pasty dough. the dough would then be shaped into spheres the size of a tennis ball, steamed to perfection and then pressed through the noodle press to collect into a beautiful birds nest on a plate. Each portion of 'sevai' (say-vvai as rice noodles are called in Tamil) would then be served up with a 'more kuzhambu' (a stew made with coconut & buttermilk) and stir fried amaranth greens. Given that the whole process was a laborious one, there were never many opportunities to experiment with other pairings and this dish pairing remains a nostalgic classic in many South Indian homes.
There is a marked difference in texture between fresh made & store bought rice noodles. The concept of 'al dente' does not feature in at all since the noodle is never hydrated to begin with. The fresh noodles are springy to the touch and have a chewy yet soft texture.
& Yes, you do need an extruding tool ( which can be found in an Indian grocery store under the name of a 'sev press') to even try making the noodles. —Panfusine
Sift the rice flour and salt in a non stick pan set on a medium low heat. Gently drizzle the boiling water, vigorously stirring the mix . Keeping the heat at the same medium low setting, Add the oil, keep stirring the mix and Allow the rice paste to thicken into a ball of dough. (the dough should be a sticky pasty consistency, and not too gritty). Transfer to a bowl coated with oil, cover with a wet kitchen towel and allow to cool (to the point where it can be handled with the bare hands)
Fill a wide pan with about 1/2 inch of water and place a steamer basket. Place a piece of aluminum foil (which has been brushed with oil) over the steamer. Using a greased ice cream scoop, fill the extruder (with the appropriate mold) with the rice dough and squeeze the noodles onto the aluminum foil. Cover and steam for 10 minutes. slide the portion of noodles off the aluminum foil onto a plate and keep covered. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Coconut & yogurt sauce
Combine the first five ingredients (pigeon peas, rice, cumin, coconut & arbol chile) with minimal water and grind to a smooth paste.
Whisk the masala paste with the yogurt, salt and water until the mix is smooth and lump free and set aside. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the mustard, Urad dal, fenugreek and the arbol chile. When the mustard sputters, the fenugreek, chile and the lentils turn a golden brown, add the tomatoes and saute until soft. Add the yogurt mixture and making sure that the mix does not come to a boil, heat until the sauce loses its 'raw' aroma. Add cilantro and remove from heat.