In South India, several variations of dosas (savoury
pancakes) are served anytime in the day. They really are a complete meal and are
low GI (glycaemic index) making it perfect for a light dinner. Bonus they are
vegan and gluten free as well.
Mung Dhal (yellow) – 250 grams
Split chick peas (channa dhal) – 125 grams
2 tablespoons rice
2 dried red chillies, deseeded, cut and soaked in warm water
for half an hour
Years ago, when my children were
in high school, they had an opportunity to visit Japan on a school trip. Both
enjoyed the trip immensely and I believe it extended their palate. Amongst the
experiences they related back, one was a love for Japanese food and this simple
savoury street food snack called Okonomiyaki. I had no idea what it was at that
time and we did try some not so tasty versions. However this one is inspired by
Japanese food blogger Just One Cookbook and here is my version.
120 grams plain flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
180 ml water or dashi (stock)
4 large eggs lightly beaten
half large cabbage finely chopped
¼ cup pickled ginger
8 large tiger prawns cut
Vegetable oil for frying
Spring onions finely chopped
Togarashi (Japanese spice powder)
Mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking
powder in a large bowl. Whisk in the water or dashi. Cover and set aside in
refrigerator for an hour. Then mix in the eggs, pickled ginger and cabbage
making sure everything is mixed in well.
Heat a flat non-stick pan or fry
pan. Spread a teaspoon of oil. Add a few pieces of prawns and pour in about a
cup full of your okonomiyaki mixture. Spread it out to make it half centimetre
thick and 12-14 centimetres wide. Make sure your flame is medium high. Allow to
cook for about 5 minutes until the bottom starts to lightly brown. Using two
spatulas or a fish spatula turn the okonomiyaki. Cook for a couple more minutes.
While on the stove, spread a
thick layer of the okonomiyaki sauce. Transfer to a serving plate. Squeeze out
the mayonnaise in a crisscross pattern. Sprinkle the bonito flakes, sea weed
powder, spring onions and the togarashi. Serve immediately.
Makes about 8 okonomiyaki.
Chef’s notes: I chopped the
cabbage using a cleaver and let it rest to let moisture evaporate. It took me
about half an hour. If you add right away without resting and squeezing out the
liquid, it will dilute batter.
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
4 tablespoons store bought tomato
3 tablespoons Worcestershire
Mix all together until sugar is
completely dissolved. Set aside.
Normally kewpie mayonnaise is
used but if you don’t have it you can make a similar tasting one by using the
½ cup Best or other store bought
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Mix all ingredients and fill a
squeezie bottle and keep ready.
This is a highly nutritious,
tasty and popular breakfast item made in Andhra households. It is nice on its
own or you can serve with ginger chutney (allam pachadi). This along with allam
pachadi is comfort food and as such tend to eyeball the ingredients rather than
measure them out precisely. For purposes of sharing this recipe, I have given
measurements. I use a tawa which is a special fry pan that is flat with a lip
of one centimetre tall. You can however use a regular fry pan.
250 grams whole mung beans
1 -3 fresh hot green chillies,
5 cms piece of fresh ginger
peeled and chopped
Handful of fresh coriander stems
2 tablespoons rice flour
8 teaspoons vegetable oil like canola
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 medium onions finely chopped
Put the beans into a bowl and
wash them in several changes of water. Drain, then cover generously in fresh
water and soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and put into a blender. Add
chillies, ginger, coriander stems and leaves, salt and about 200 ml water.
Blend for several minutes until you have a pancake like batter. Empty into
another bowl and mix in the rice flour.
Mix the chopped onions with the
cumin seeds and set aside.
Set a largish non-stick fry pan
over a medium heat. When hot, stir the batter from the bottom and pour a
ladleful into the centre of pan. Lightly use the back of the ladle and a wrist
action to spread the batter outwards in an even spiral form to reach the wall
of the fry pan about 20 centimetres in diameter. Sprinkle the onion and cumin
mix and pat them down gently with the back of a spoon. Add a few drops of oil
in the centre and about the edges of the pancake. Cook on a low medium heat
until the pancake turns crisp and golden. Flip the pancake and allow to cook
the other side for about 30 seconds. Serve right away (I tend to use two fry
pans). Make all the pancakes in the same way, stirring the batter each time you
ALLAM PACHADI (Ginger chutney)
30 grams tamarind (the variety that comes in a packet in an Indian store) (small lime sized ball)
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 tablespoons channa dhal (split chick peas)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon powdered asafoetida
8-12 dried red hot chillies
3 tablespoons vegetable oil like
40 grams jaggery (if you can’t
find jaggery, you can use palm sugar or muscavado sugar)
Salt to taste
100 grams ginger (peeled and evenly chopped)
Wash the tamarind and then soak in 60 ml of hot water from the kettle for an hour. Using your hand (wear gloves), squeeze the tamarind and extract thick pulp. Discard the fibrous bits that don’t get pulped. Put the pulp into a microwave safe container and microwave on high for a minute and set aside.
Heat a kadai (Indian style wok) or a saucepan and add the oil to make the popu (seasoning). Add the fenugreek seeds along with channa dhal and fry them until they are slightly brown (if the oil is too hot they tend to burn and get bitter). Add the chillies (you can cut them in half if they are too long), stir and then add the mustard seeds. When mustard seeds start to splutter, remove from heat and add asafoetida to the hot mixture. Allow to cool.
Once the popu is cool enough, blend to a fine paste in a food processor or mortar and pestle. Add the tamarind pulp, salt, jaggery and ginger. Pulse until everything is ground. Transfer to a jar and serve with pesarettu or adai dosa. Store in refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.