Literally translates to Eggplant gravy in oil. As the name suggests, this requires a generous amount of oil, sesame oil preferably. You can take care of the guilt by eating with a light keerai (spinach) masiyal or paruppusili.
This is a simple spinach dish that comes together in 15 mins, in the time it takes rice to be ready. Can be made with any of the greens. I’ve used purslane or paruppu keerai as it’s known in Tamil since I grow it. It grows very easily. All parts of the plant are edible, including the very pretty yellow flowers. There are many varieties of purslane with different colored flowers, and I was told the one with the yellow flowers was the one most used in cooking. It can be sauteed with salt and garlic, or sprinkled on salads, or, as I’ve done here, cooked with onions, chilies, and dals to make a wholesome dish to be eaten with rice. (I am not qualified to give medical advice, but I’m told it is high in oxalates, so if you’re watching oxalate intake which may cause kidney stones, go easy on it.
I love Kripal Singh’s Food Lovers TV where he spotlights older, unique, out of the way establishments mostly in Bengaluru. One of these episodes featured The New Modern Hotel (not sure of the name) in Bengaluru, and their homestyle cooking and thaali. Now, if I must choose someone to eat on my behalf, if that ever happens, I would choose Kripal. The way he experiences the food and relates the experience, the way he enjoys it – he is the BEST! The food featured was South Canara cuisine, I think it’s coastal karnataka, satvik food, plenty of coconut, and jaggery, and just everything good! I fell in love with this episode, and the side dish of okra gojju that he used the pooris to dip in. Googled the recipe, and I came up with what I think is the dish featured. From my research, it’s very similar to the pagarkai gojju made with a unique masala paste made of sesame seeds and coconut, in addition to the dals and red chilies. I had to make it immediately. Like the same evening. But I waited to serve it with with the pooris, along with a hodge podge thaali I made up with various leftovers, as I was craving a Woodlands style thaali. Here is the recipe!
This is a semi dry chutney with just 4 ingredients: cilantro, red chilies, tamarind, urad dal. And salt, and hing. Pairs perfectly with idli, dosai, rice, anything you’d have a chutney to go with. It’s really neither a chutney nor a powder (podi) – it’s not a runny, watery paste like a chutney, nor is it completely dry like a podi. There is a little moisture from the cilantro, but it’s on the dry side. Simple to make, lasts in the refrigerator for about a month easily.
While uthappam has its own traditional recipe, two day old idli or dosai batter makes wonderful uthappam, which is a slightly thick dosai. I dislike calling it pancakes – pancakes are more melt in your mouth, not much subtance/texture. Uthappam is a robust, spongy in the center and crispy in the edge, thick, smaller dosai. This version is spiced up with molagapodi (idli podi) and topped with onions and cilantro.