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Freshly extruded Sevai
|Place of origin||India|
|Region or state||Tamil Nadu and Karnataka|
'Sevai or Shyavige or santhakai is a type of rice vermicelli popular in Southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu (Kongunadu region) and Karnataka. Santhakai is made out of other food grains like wheat, ragi, etc. also are increasingly becoming popular.
Sevaiis distinctly different from its cousin idiappam in the sense of input material, making process, and post-extrusion recipes. Sevai is popular as a breakfast or dinner food and is easily digestible as it can be made with less or no oil, and it is steamed.
Sevai is mostly made fresh starting from rice grains. It is also prepared from a dried sevai packs (or rice sticks) like the instant ones in the Asian grocery stores. Traditionally, making of sevai at home consists of the following steps (with minor variations based on location and family customs):
- Soaking of parboiled rice in cold water for about 3 hours
- Grinding of soaked rice using a wet grinder into a fine paste
- Making of dumplings from the rice paste and steaming the chunks (at least three variations are known in this step as follows)
- Pressing of cooked dumplings into fine strands using a type of Sevai press
Homemade sevai is often made from 100% rice (in addition to water and salt) whereas dry rice sticks may often have some additives like tapioca, corn starch, etc. Instant rice noodles have other additives like Wheat gluten, Guar gum, edible starch, etc. In Southern parts of Karnataka, shyaavige is made of different grains with different consistencies. When made with Ragi or Millet the vermicelli is fatter where as when made with Rice or Wheat the strands are thinner.
Sevai is called santhakai in the western parts of Tamil Nadu; it is called shavige in Kannada. People also loosely use the terms idiappam and semiya (vermicelli) for Sevai, even though these foods are different from Sevai in several aspects. In Tamil, these are written சந்தகை, சந்தவம், சந்தவை.
Foods prepared with Sevai
Shyavige can be made into a breakfast dish in Karnataka when cooked with vegetables and tempered with spices with a dash of lemon juice or a sweet dish called Payasam when cooked in milk with cardamom or other select spices and sugar. In the Malnad region of Karnataka rice shyaavige may be served with chicken curry. The other variants made with Ragi or Jowar are served plain with accompaniments like sweetened coconut milk and various edible powders that include powdered chickpea and sesame. In Tamil Nadu santhakai is often flavoured with lemon, tamarind, tomato, coconut, curd etc. and is usually eaten warm. Popular accompaniments for plain sevai are sweetened coconut milk, banana sugar and ghee, more-kuzhambu, several vegetable kormas and mutton, chicken, or fish korma.