Kuzhi paniyaram-A taste of Chettinad

A few years ago,when I was in college,I was invited for lunch by Aunty T.She is an excellent cook who can make varieties of dishes in a jiffy.Both of us learn Veena under my dad and did our graduation together.Though she is very elder to me,Aunty T and me would discuss some common topics,the first one [after music] would be-Cooking!

It so happened that one day I asked her to lend me a few cookery books so that I can write them down to try later.She has a vast collection of cookery books and is an expert baker.The topic turned to cakes and she promised to bake a cake for me or rather teach me[orally] how to bake a cake.That turned to be an invitation to lunch too.

She taught me to bake an egg-less marble cake and I was astonished at the ease of preparation.While the cake was in the oven she served me a scrumptious lunch.Later, after the cake was done,it was time to taste it and I loved every bite!

Soon she came out with a tray of Kuzhi paniyaram and a cup of tea.That's when I was introduced to the taste of Chettinad.

Chettinad is a region in Tamilnadu,South India and this region is well known for its cuisine,temples and mansions!!!

Its cuisine is well known all over and its famous for its spicy dishes.It makes uses of several spices resulting in an aromatic array of dishes.Chettinad is a very dry region and banking on this aspect,the cuisine also has many varieties of sun dried meat and salted vegetables.

When EC announced the WYF event - Specialty foods,the first dish that came to my mind was Kuzhi paniyaram,a speciality dish from Chettinad.Kuzhi paniyaram either be both sweet or savory and here is the savory version for EC's WYF:Speciality food event

You need:

  1. Leftover idli / dosa batter - 1 cup
  2. Onion-1 chopped
  3. Green chillies - 2 ,finely chopped
  4. Curry leaves - a few
  5. Mustard-1/2 a teaspoon
  6. Jeera-1/2 a teaspoon
  7. Gram dha;-1/2 a teaspoon
  8. Urad dhal-1/2 a teaspoon
  9. Oil- as required.
Here is what you will have to do....

  1. Take the batter in a bowl and put in chopped onion,green chillies,curry leaves and keep aside.The batter should neither be too thick or too watery.
  2. Heat a little oil in a small pan and put in mustard,jeera,gram dhal,urad dhal and when it splutters and the dhal turns brown,pour it into the batter bowl.Mix well.
  3. Heat a kuzhi paniyaram pan[shown in pic 1] and pour 1/2 a teaspoon oil into each depression.The quantity of oil depends on the size of the depression.
  4. When it is hot,pour a tablespoon or so of the batter [depending on the size of the depression as in pic 2]
  5. Wait for a few minutes till the sides shrink a little signaling that one side has been cooked.
  6. Use a spoon/knife/steel skewer to turn over the paniyaram[pic 3]
  7. After a few minutes ,when the other side has been cooked to golden brown,remove from paniyara pan
  8. Serve as a snack with Tomato onion chutney

A few tips for a tasty snack...

- If the pan is 'seasoned'[meaning- used often] paniyaram is very easy to turn over as it will not get stuck to the sides.
-If the first batch gets stuck,carefully remove from heat and let it cool.Soak the cool pan in a large basin of water,clean well and use again brushing a little extra oil.
- Instead of using metal/clay pans,non stick pans can be used for a fat free snack.
- If you don't like green chillies getting into the way while savoring these delicious bites,use chilli powder instead.
- If you prepare this ahead of serving time,just reheat for a few seconds in a microwave and serve.

A small word of caution,the metal pan gets very hot on using for a long time i.e when you prepare many batches, so handle with care,use a gloves to be on the safer side.

Happy cooking...

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