Both my mother and my mother-in-law had a kuzhi paniaram chatti (griddle), but I had never seen them use it, and I had not tasted kuzhi paniaram till I saw it being made at a South Indian delicatessen, The Grand Sweets and Snacks. I was not impressed by the taste of it or the accompaniments (chutney and sambar) served with it. I believe that the main item should have its own distinctive flavour, and the accompaniments should enhance rather than clash with it.
Moreover, I was also shocked by the amount of oil poured into each depression of the griddle to fry the paniarams. I decided that the paniarams that I make will have less oil, and I managed to buy a non-stick griddle and prepare low fat kuzhi paniaram.
I could not find a kuzhi paniaram recipe in my mother’s collection, and therefore the search began. Different communities in Tamil Nadu use different combinations of spices, but they all use dosai batter. I have created a recipe using commercially available dosai batter, which allows you to prepare a quick and tasty snack. I love the taste of cumin along with onion and chillies. It gives a unique twist to the flavour.
- 2 C Dosai batter
- 1 large Onion
- 2 green Chillies
- 2 tsp Ginger, grated
- ¼ bunch Coriander leaves
- 3 sprigs Curry leaves
- ¼ tsp Mustard seeds
- ½ tsp Cumin seeds
- ⅛ tsp Asafetida
- ¼ tsp Baking soda
- Salt, to taste
Oil for frying
- 3 tsp for sautéing the diced ingredients
- for frying the kuzhi paniarams, as needed
- Dice the onion, green chillies (deseeded), coriander, and curry leaves.
- Heat oil in a small kadai or wok. Add the mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add the cumin seeds. Do not allow the cumin to brown.
- Add the diced ingredients and the ginger, salt, and asafetida, and fry till the onions become translucent.
- Transfer to the dosai batter. Mix. Add soda and enough water to make a pour batter. Stir.
- Heat a non-stick kuzhi paniaram griddle. Add ¼ teaspoon of oil to each depression. Add a spoonful of batter to fill three-fourths of each depression.
- When the sides are cooked and the top begins to dry, turn the paniarams over. Lower heat. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Remove and serve hot.
Homemade dosai batter: Soak 3 C idly rice and one 1 C black gram dhal separately for 3 hours. Grind to make pour batter. Add 2 tsp salt and mix well. Cover the vessel and allow it to stand for a minimum of 10 hours to get optimum results.
Options: Instead of ginger, mangai inji (mango-flavoured ginger) could be used when in season.
Accompaniments: It is traditional to serve kuzhi paniaram with chutney or sambar, but this recipe is delicious on its own. Though it’s a snack, at home I serve it for breakfast without any accompaniment.