Wednesday, October 29, 2008
ADAI - a mixed lentil pancake
My friend and I visited each other and played for long hours in our vast gardens at Lakshmipuram, Mysore, on holidays unmindful of the meal timings. We were promptly called in for our meals at the appropriate time wherever we were, by my mother or by her mother. Many a time as we played in one of the gardens, as our mothers chatted away over the compound walls across the rarely used service lane which separated the two houses. It was fun to shout out my friend’s name across the walls, indicating that my mother wanted to speak to her mother. She did the same to call my mother for a ‘meeting’. The stone bench under the guava tree was very convenient for me to stand up and throw my voice across. Since both the houses stood back to back, and the chatting took place at the bottom of the two gardens, there was total privacy and our mothers could converse even without stepping out of their homes.
On one such occasion my friend’s mother mentioned to my mother that I had savoured THREE adais for tiffin, “Not at all bad. She must have liked my Adais so much!” That day when I returned home, I told my mother about the delicious hot adais , that I ate at my friend’s place. Mother laughed and told me not to go over board while eating outside.
Adai is a heavy dish prepared with rice and a mixture of lentils. It can include onions or fenugreek leaves. I sometimes add finely chopped cabbage, grated carrots, or even drum stick leaves .
Rice – 1 cup
Tur dal – ¾ cup
Bengal gram dal – ¼ cup
Black gram dal – 1 tbsp
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Red chillies – 3
Ginger – 1 " piece
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves –a few
Fresh coriander leaves – little
Salt – ½ tsp
1. Soak the rice and dals together with the red chillies for half an hour.
2. Add ginger to the soaked ingredients, and grind into a thick and coarse batter.
3. Add chopped curry leaves and fresh coriander.
4. Mix in the cumin seeds, asafoetida and salt.
5. Chopped vegetables (such as carrots, cabbage, drumstick leaves, onion, capsicum and so on, as per your preference) may also be added at this stage.
6. Let the batter stand for about fifteen minutes.
7. Heat a tava and rub it with a drop of oil using a halved onion.
8. Pour a ladleful of the batter and spread it into a thick and round Adai.
9. Make a hole in the center with the edge of the spatula.
10. Drizzle with oil around the Adai and pour a drop of oil in the centre as well.
11. Cover with lid and cook for 2 minutes.
12. Remove lid and turn over the Adai and add a few drops of oil around.
13. Remove after a minute and serve with chutney, gojju or molaga podi.
Children like to have Adai with jaggery and ghee. Everybody at home prefers to eat the Adai while still hot. The crispy golden crust underneath (similar to a crunchy ama vadai!) and the soft top cooked in steam, makes it almost a two-in-one dish!
My sister-in-law has sent in photos of these dosai kals. These cast iron dosai kals (skillets) are from the temple town of Srirangam, in Tamil Nadu. Here is a link with a history of the temple. The shops outside the temple are famous for selling these kals.
There is a lot that is said about preparing a new cast iron kal, before it is ready for use. If a new cast iron kal is used, just as is it is, you will land up with a sticky mess when trying to make adais or dosais, not to mention the impurities and rust that can get into your food! The procedure of preparing a kal is called ‘pazhakarudu’ in Tamizh. It involves washing and soaking the vessel in arisi kanji (starchy water left from boiling rice) for about 24 hours. After that, it is rinsed, dried, and then has some oil coated on it on all sides. The kal turns out better results, as it keeps getting used. I rinse my dosai kal with luke warm water with mild soap and immediately dry it before keeping it away. Before each use, I rub it with a little oil using a halved onion instead of a brush.