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The Back Burner: Got leftover rice? Make muthias

Written by Pooja Pillai
| New Delhi |

Published: August 8, 2020 12:50:30 pm

Muthias are a filling and healthy snack, and make excellent use of leftover rice. (Photo: Pooja Pillai; designed by Gargi Singh)
There’s a lot you can do with leftover cooked rice, but one of my favourite ways of using it up is to make the Gujarati snack known as muthia. These steamed and tempered savoury dumplings are traditionally made using jaada lot (coarse wheat flour) and besan (chickpea flour), although pearl millet (bajra) flour, sorghum (jowar) flour and semolina (rawa) are also frequently used. Typically, one also adds vegetables like grated bottle gourd and onion, bittergourd and fresh fenugreek to muthias. All in all, they make for a very filling, healthy and tasty breakfast or snack.

I don’t usually make muthias unless I have leftover rice because it’s a nice break from having to use that rice to make the usual lemon or tamarind rice (I’ve also sometimes used leftover khichdi). The only thing to be careful about when using leftover cooked rice is to have the right proportions of the other ingredients, but the starch from the rice can make the muthias very sticky. I’m also not very fussy about the vegetables that I use to make them; carrots, peas, cabbage, green beans – they’ve all found their way into them. This morning, since there was one sad-looking beetroot lying at the bottom of the vegetable tray, I decided to use it.

I suppose it’s clear from all of the above that muthia, for me, is a fairly improvisational dish. I’m not fussy about the proportions (except to be careful about the rice vs. flours balance), and I flavour it anyway that I like. This creative leeway that the dish offers is what makes it a personal favourite.

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I’ve provided the required quantities for the ingredients listed below, but they’re all indicative. Use this recipe as a starting point to develop a dish that suits your preferences and convenience.


1 cup – Cooked rice
½ cup – Whole wheat flour (regular whole wheat flour of the kind used to make rotis is perfectly fine, although you can use the coarse variety)
½ cup – Jowar flour
½ cup – Besan
1 cup – Grated beetroot
2 tbsp – Green chilli-garlic paste
½ tsp – Turmeric powder
1 tsp – Cumin powder
1 tsp – Coriander seed powder
½ tsp – Amchur powder
2 tbsp – Oil
Salt, to taste
snack recipe, breakfast recipe, leftover rice recipe, leftovers, Gujarati recipe, muthia, methi muthia, dudhi muthia, karela muthia, beetroot muthia Shape the muthia dough into sausage-like rolls and steam for 10-15 minutes. (Photo: Pooja Pillai)
For tempering:

1 tbsp – Oil
1 tsp – Mustard seeds
1 pinch – Asafoetida
2 tsp – White sesame seeds
1 sprig – Curry leaves
2-3 – Dried red chillies (optional)

For garnishing (optional)

Freshly grated coconut, chopped coriander leaves

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* Mix all the ingredients (except those to be used for tempering and garnishing) with water, as required, and make firm, but soft dough. Portion out pieces that you can shape into sausage-like rolls.

* Steam for 10-15 minutes on medium flame, until cooked. You can check by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the muthias are done.

* Once cool, the muthias will be quite firm. You can now chop them into bite-sized pieces.

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* Heat oil and add the tempering ingredients, beginning with mustard seeds, the curry leaves and red chillies (if using), asafoetida and finally sesame seeds. Switch off the flame as soon as you’ve added the sesame seeds. Pour this over the muthias and toss to coat all the pieces in the tempering.

* Serve with any chutney of your choice, with a hot cup of tea on the side.

[The Back Burner is a weekly blog that will talk about all things food (with recipes, of course)]

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