This recipe is a family specialty that has been handed down from my great-grandmother. It was originally made with Karuppatti (Palm Jaggery), but my mother substituted the karuppatti with regular jaggery (made from sugarcane) as karuppatti has a lot of grit (jaggery also has some grit but it can be removed easily by straining). It is always had with the onion thuvaiyal which is hot, sour, and pungent as the sweetness of the dosai is contrasted with the thuvaiyal’s strong flavour.
I have a habit of copying interesting recipes which are different from my family’s traditional dishes. This recipe comes from Your Food and You written and published by Mrs. H. K. Philip (maybe in the 1940s), who was a well known social worker. Her recipes used traditional and comparative units of measure and random procedures, which I had to standardise through repeated experiments. I was impressed by the recipe because it was very simple compared to dishes typically made here, combines potatoes with meatballs and does not use coconut.
Pakodas are favourite teatime snacks all over India. There are a variety of pakodas made in different states, but in Thirunelveli, especially in my family, whole wheat flour pakodas were made and served as a breakfast item. It is unique because it combines black gram dhal along with wheat flour to give a softer texture and improve the nutritive value.
In Tamil Nadu, the gourd family is used in several dishes perhaps because of the high water content and easy availability in all seasons. Ridge gourd is used with dhal in vegetarian cooking. I obtained this recipe from a Burmese repatriate friend, who said this dish was prepared by Tamil people who had settled in Burma but is not native to Burmese cooking. I was amazed as I had never come across ridge gourd being used in non-vegetarian cooking. I lost no time in trying it out at home and was very pleased with the result.