Friday, November 25, 2011

Dosa Sambhar

Masala dosa with sambhar and coconut chutney
Continuing with the series of breakfast dishes from southern India, the topic would be incomplete without dosa. Probably one of the most popular fare all over India, dosa is a savoury crepe or pancake made from fermented rice and lentils. It can be had as is with coconut chutney and sambhar or stuffed with any stuffing. The most widely used is the onion-potato stuffing.


3 cups rice flour
1 cup dehusked urad dal soaked overnight
salt to taste
1 tbsp yeast (optional)
oil for frying
For the onion-potato filling
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
pinch asafoetida(hing)
sprig curry leaves
1 tbsp urad dal
1 tbsp chana dal soaked and drained
2 whole dry red chillies
1 large red onion thinly sliced
3 large potatoes boiled and chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric
red chillie powder
salt to taste

Keep batter for rising
  1. Drain dal and gring it to a smooth paste using water. 
  2. Pour this in a large container and add the rice flour to it. 
  3. Add warm water and salt to make a smooth purable batter. 
  4. Cover tightly and leave it in a warm place for 5-8 hours to rise (double its volume). If you live in a cold place (like me) you might need yeast to help rise the batter. 
Make the filling
  1. While the batter is rising make your filling. Heat oil in a pan and add hing and mustard seeds. Let spatter for 30 seconds. 
  2. Add curry leaves, whole red chillies, urad and chana dal. Cook for another 30 seconds before adding onions. Cook while stirring till they turn pink. 
  3. Add chopped potatoes along with all the dry spices. Stir well to blend the flavors together for about 3-5 minutes. Keep aside.
Assemble Dosas
  1. Once the batter has risen, stir the batter lightly (too mush stirring will remove the aie bubbles). 
  2. Heat a flat bottomed non-stick pan to medium high. Add a few drops of oil and spread it all around the pan to grease it. Then sprinkle a few drops of water and wait till water bubbles and evaporates. This ensures that your pan is not too hot and dosas will spread without resistance evenly. This step is necessary for each dosa. 
  3. Pour a large ladle full of batter in the center and spread it in a circular motion to form a circle.
  4. Apply a tsp oil on the surface of the crepe and also on the edges. Continue cooking till you see the thin areas turning brown.
  5. Spread a tablespoon of filling one side and turn the crepe into half.
  6. If you want you can flip and crisp the other side too but its not necessary.
  7. Serve with coconut chutney and sambhar.
Cook till small bubbles appear & edges brown
Flipping is not necessary if dosas are very thin
Dosa stuffed with onion-potato filling

Friday, November 18, 2011

Idli and Sambhar

Mini Idlis
Idli is a savoury fermented steamed dumpling made of rice. Another one of the popular breakfast dishes from southern states of India, idli makes for an excellent lunch in our house. Since the batter is left for several hours in a hot place to rise, these dumplings come out very soft and are easy to digest. These melt - in - your - mouth idlis taste even more amazing with coconut chutney and sambhar. Sometimes they are served with gun-powder mixed with ghee. There are several variations possible such as masala idli where you spice up the batter before cooking, rava idlis where you use suji instead of rice, vegetable idlis where you can add some veges to the batter before steaming. 
To get this disc shape you have to use an idli mould. If you don't have one you can steam the batter in a flat dish and then cut it into squares or wedges. They taste equally delish.

Masala Idli
Masala Idli
Ingredients: (Makes about 28-32)
1 cup Urad Dal dehusked
2 cups Rice suji (rice in very small pieces)
1tbsp instant yeast (optional)
salt to taste
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
sprig of curry leaves
2 tbsp chana Dal (soaked)
2-3 tbsp cashews in small pieces
  • Soak Dal and rice separately overnight.
  • Grind Dal in a wet grinder using minimum amount of water, into a fine paste.
  • Strain soaked rice and add the rice to the Dal paste. Heat the reserved water to lukewarm(not hot) to make a smooth batter of thick pourable consistency (like pancakes). 
  • Add 1 tsp salt and yeast and mix well. If you live in a warm climate then yeast is not needed. In cold areas it helps rise the batter.
  • Cover the container and put it in a warm place for 6-8 hours minimum or overnight if required till the batter rises to double its volume. 
  • To cook the idlis use a deep container and add an inch or two of water in it. Keep it for boiling. 
  • Meanwhile add the rest of the ingredients to the batter and stir it just enough to incorporate these. If you stir too vigorously you stand a risk of removing air bubbles from the risen batter.
  • Spray your mold with some oil and spoon the batter.
  • As soon as the water comes to a boil lower the mold in it and cover the lid. 
  • Cook at a medium high heat for 12-15 minutes till cooked thru. 
  • Let idlis stand for 2 minutes before removing them from the mold. 
  • Serve with coconut chutney, gunpowder and/or sambhar.

1 tsp oil
2 red onions thinly sliced 
1 cup arhar dal washed
4 cups water
salt to taste
1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tbsp sambhar masala (see recipe below or use readymade)
2 inch cube tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup water for 20-30 minutes
Vegetables (optional)
2 chopped tomatoes
10 lady fingers or okra split into two lengthwise
10 green beans split into two
few drumsticks 
3-4 small eggplants quartered
2 tsp oil
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
pinch asafoetida
a sprig of curry leaves
3-5 whole red chillies
  • In a pressure cooker take oil and fry onions till soft and pink. Do not brown.
  • Add dal and water along with salt and turmeric.
  • Pressure cook on high till the whistle, then cook on low for 15 minutes. If not using a pressure cooker then boil till soft.
  • Extract the tamarind pulp and keep aside. 
  • Add the cut vegetables to the cooked dal along with sambhar masala. Cook on medium heat till all the veges are cooked through. 
  • Now add tamarind pulp and boil for a few minutes. During this time add more water if needed and adjust salt. Sambhar should be drinkable consistency.
  • Take away from flame and temper using all the baghar ingredients.
  • Serve steaming hot with idlis, uttapams, dosa or plain rice.
Sambhar Masala
3 tsp Coriander seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Black peppercorns
3-4 Whole red chillies
pinch Asafoetida
1 tsp Bengal gram 
1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp dry curry leaves
  • Dry roast all the ingredients till aromatic and brown.
  • Dry grind these to a fine powder.
  • Cool and store in an air tight container.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Uttapam with Coconut Chutney

Uttapam is savoury pancake made with a batter of fermented rice and lentils. It is a popular breakfast dish from southern India and is accompanied by coconut chutney and/or sambhar. In our house we usually make it for lunch. It is quite wholesome with all food groups incorporated in it. There are many variations of uttapam and each is as good as the other. Sometimes I make instant uttapams by just mixing suji (semolina) with yogurt and several veggies into a thick batter. But the actual fermented batter tastes wayyy better, though it requires some planning.
Rava Uttapam
Ingredients: (makes about 8)
1/2 cup urad husked dal (dhuli urad)
3 tbsp plain yogurt 
11/2 cup suji
salt to taste
2 cups altogether (chopped red onion, grated carrots, ginger, fresh chopped coriander and green chilies)
oil for cooking the pancakes
  1. Soak urad dal overnight. Grind into a fine paste in a grinder.
  2. Put this batter in a large bowl and add yogurt, salt and suji to it. 
  3. Using water make a thick batter of pancake like consistency. Cover tightly and keep it in a warm place to ferment for 6-8 hours. During this time the batter will develop bubbles, rise a bit and sour up.
  4. When you are ready to make the pancakes, heat a non-stick pan to medium heat. Keep all the veges chopped and mixed together. Check the consistency of the batter, add water if it has thickened up. 
  5. Spray some oil on the pan, pour a large ladle full of  batter in the center of the pan and using the back of the ladle spread it in a circular motion to shape it into a round pancake. 
  6. Spray some more oil on top of the uttapam. While the bottom is cooking, spread about 3-4 tbsp of the onion mixture on the top of the pancake.
  7. When you see small bubbles appearing on top, carefully turn the pancake over using a wide spatula. Cook on the other side for about a minute.
  8. Serve hot with coconut chutney and/or sambhar.
Coconut chutney

Coconut Chutney
Ingredients: (a big bowl full)
1/2 fresh coconut grated
2 tbsp roasted chana dal
2 green chilies
salt to taste
1-2 tsp lime juice 
2 tbsp plain yogurt(optional)
2 tsp mustard seeds
a sprig of curry leaves
1 tbsp oil
pinch asafoetida. 
  1. Grind coconut, chana dal and green chilies well using water. Keep a thick consistency. 
  2. Add salt and lime juice and yogurt if using. 
  3. Heat oil in a small pan, add asafoetida, and mustard seeds. Cover and let crackle for 10 seconds. Take away from heat and add the curry leaves. Add this tempering to the coconut batter. 
  4. Chill before serving. Keeps in the refrigerator for a week.
Uttapam with Sambhar
Uttapam can be served with sambhar and coconut chutney for a fuller heavier meal. For sambhar recipe, tune in next week.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Papri Chaat

Scrumptious and delicious Bhalla papri chaat

Another one of the popular street food which combines very well with gol gappe is papri chaat. Cold and spicy with a blend of sweet, salty and sour goodness this satisfies to the core specially on a warm day. 
Papri chaat combines flavors and textures which give a unique taste in the mouth. The softness of the bhalla, crisp saltiness of the papri, silky texture of boiled potato and bite in the chickpeas are all put together with flavored yogurt and sweet and sour chutneys. Just assemble all the ingredients together and then create individual servings just before eating. Cannot assemble this dish in advance as the yogurt and chutneys will soften up the papri and make it soggy.

Papri Chaat
Ingredients:(serves 4)
8 bhalle or bade soaked in water and drained
24 papris
2 boiled potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup boiled and drained chickpeas
2 cups of salted spiced yogurt
2 tsp ground roasted cumin
2 tsp red chilli powder
fresh coriander leaves
1 green chilli chopped (optional)
1 inch ginger cut in long thin strips (optional)
handful of fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • Just before serving take a small serving plate and lay 2 bhalle and 6 papris on it randomly. Top with a bunch of boiled potatoes and chickpeas.
  • Generously pour spiced yogurt on top of everything covering them all (about 1/2 cup).
  • Sprinkle pinch of cumin powder and red chilli powder. Top with the a tbsp each of the two chutneys. 
  • Garnish with coriander, green chillies and pomegranate seeds.

Assemble all ingredients for the chaat before serving

For Spiced Yogurt
2 cups yogurt
1/3 tsp rock salt (kala namak)
salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds
red chilli powder
ground black pepper
oil for deep frying
  • Take 2 cups of plain yogurt and beat it to smoothen out its consistency( add some water if it is too thick. 
  • Add kala namak, salt, sugar, cumin and red chilli powder and mix well. 
  • Chill before use.

For bhalle
Follow the recipe for making the bade from here till step 6.
Dahi bade

Ingredients:(makes about 2 dozen)
1/2 cup all purpose flour(I use whole wheat)
1/2 tsp oil
salt to taste
water for kneading
oil for frying
  • Take the first three ingredients in a bowl and add a little water at a time to make a stiff dough.
  • Roll out the dough thinly and using a round cookie cutter cut out small inch and a half diameter rounds. 
  • Make some dents on these to prevent them from swelling while frying.
  • Deep fry these papris at medium high until they acquire a uniform golden brown color. Make sure oil is hot enough before frying. If oil is not hot enough then papris will absorb a lot of oil.
  • Drain on a paper towel. Cool and store in an airtight container till use.

Crispy Papri