I simply call these oat pancakes only because I couldn’t find a better name – they are really a cross between okonomiyaki, traditional South Indian dosa and vegetable pancakes you get on street corners in Korea.
Mangalore is a port town just off Goa on the west coast of India. The cuisine of Mangalore is very distinctive and reflects the diverse communities of this region. Coconut and curry leaves feature heavily as the food here is influenced by South Indian cuisine.
I have used a rather uncommon spice in my version. It is called stone flower (Pathar ke phool in Hindi or Rathi puvvu in Telugu – it is a dried lichen with the scientific name of Parmotrema perlatum. This has a distinct floral aroma and used generally in meat stews but works well in this dish.
1 kg boneless chicken thighs, cut in half
100g onion, chopped
1 sprig curry leaf
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
4 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
150g grated coconut, (if frozen, thaw first)
4 plump garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
5 centimetre piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
We all love masala vadas and these are my mum’s speciality. I think she makes the best and the smell wafting from the kitchen is very telling of the spice and crunch that is to follow. You can say they are a bit like falafel in the sense that they are made with 2-3 different kinds of lentils. I have tried making these a few times and until now, they were a flop. The trick is to soak for three hours or so, not grind it too much (pulse a few times) and lastly keep the lentils separate. Follow my tips and you can have mouth-watering vadas at home.
1 cup urad dhal
½ cup channa dhal (split chick peas)
½ cup red lentils
2tbsps finely chopped ginger
2-3 red or green chillies
200g onion chopped
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
Combine the channa dhal and red lentils. Rinse well and soak for three hours. Rinse the urad dhal well and soak in a separate bowl for three hours.
After soaking, wash well (a sieve works well) and using a food processor, grind the urad dhal with salt. Pulse and try to grind without adding water. If you must add only a spoonful at a time. Remove and set aside.
In the same food processor bowl, grind the channa dhal and lentils along with chillies and ginger. Add salt to taste and pulse. The lentils should be combined and half of them will be left whole and this is okay.
Heat oil to 180 degrees C (or if you add a small piece of lentil, it should spring up to the top immediately) in a kadai or a small sauce pan. Section the urad dhal and lentils mix into three equal portions. In a separate small bowl, combine one section of urad dhal and lentils mix. Mix in a third of your chopped onions.
Wet the palm of your less dominant hand and shape a small lime sized mix into a patty or vada. You can also use a banana leaf or a plastic sheet instead of your palm. You want them fairly thin – too thick means they will take longer to cook and also won’t be as crunchy. Slide the vada very gently and carefully into the hot oil. Repeat with the remaining. Fry till golden (can take up to two minutes on each side) and serve hot. Makes about 30 medium sized ones.
It is typical to use coconut as a masala ingredient in South India. It not only adds texture but also certain richness to the dish. You can substitute kohlrabi with choko or Chinese cooking melon. Goes well as a side dish for an Indian meal.
In Kerala, where this dish originates from, the banana leaf is used for wrapping the fish, like the French classic fish en papillote. Did you know that this (wrapping fish in banana leaf) method of cooking in Kerala dates back to thousands of years? Surrounded by the Arabian Sea on the entire West Coast of the state, historically, Kerala attracted the Portuguese, the Dutch, Chinese and Arab traders from time immemorial because of the spice trade. I believe this definitely influenced the culinary expressions. I served the fish with coconut rice. (Recipe included)
3 tablespoons coconut oil plus more to oil the pans
There are several rivers flowing through the southern states of India and the fertile deltas are excellent for growing rice. That is why rice is a staple and it is used not only as the carbohydrate source but also used in a variety of ways. Pulihora is made for festive occasions, although traditionally made with Ponni rice and tamarind, the lemon and mango version is popular in Andhra Pradesh. I find the long grain rice we get has too much starch and gets too sticky, so prefer Basmati rice.
You cannot make pulihora without using hing. There is a
certain umami savouriness that hing brings to the dish. Hing or asafoetida is a
resin of giant fennel plants that grow wild in Afghanistan and Iran. It was
brought to India about the 16th century. The resin can be kept pure,
which is how I store mine. You mostly find it ground to a powder and mixed with
wheat – in India L.G (not the Korean brand) is synonymous with hing powder.
250 grams Basmati rice, rinsed several times until water