Kutti Dosa – Little South Indian Rice & Lentil Pancakes

small indian dosa pancake

The last time we made lacto-plums on an impulse I threw some of the plum vinegar into a batter I was making for dosa. I usually keep my dosa pure, but in for a penny, in for a pound: in went some black cumin after which a pinch of hing felt obligatory. Then I waited until morning for the result.

The batter had a definite yeasty smell and was extra full of air. This batter wanted to make soft, fluffy kutti (small) dosa. The type you drop onto a skillet and let spread naturally while a thousand bubbles burst to adorn the top

You can make Kutti Dosa the traditional way: just omit the lacto plum vinegar. Even the spices are optional

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South Indian Dosa – Basic Recipe

south indian dosa with coconut chutney and sambhar

A flat pancake resembling a crepe, dosa are traditional to the South Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil cuisines but are popular all over India and beyond

Dosa are a staple in South Indian restaurants in the West. Plain or filled they come with coconut chutneys and often sambhar, a hot and sour South Indian vegetable dish which I’ll describe shortly. When in London we treat ourselves to dosa most weekends at our favourite Indian eaterie Sagar

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Potato & Onion Pakora – With Cumin, Fennel And Black Salt

onion and potato Indian pakora

Typical Christmas eve in Spain: meet frineds for drinks around eight, home for family dinner at ten, out again by two (am), breakfast in the town square, bed, then . . . that was last year.

This year we’re experiencing reduced staying-power and early nights, the effects of not drinking since before Easter. Even so, I set the alarm to be up in time to prepare Christmas brunch – just in case.

  • air-fried onion and purple potato pakora
  • sweet tomato and black mustard relish
  • salted cucumber with dehydrated fermented persamons
  • south Indian sambhar
  • two poached eggs on buttered rye sourdough toast
  • with alcohol-free lager
  • and chocloate brownies. It is Christmas

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Shukto – Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry

bengali vegettarian curry - Shukto

It’s the custom in the Bengal region of north-east India to start a meal with a bitter dish. Shukto achieves this through the use of karela, a bitter gourd readily available from most Asian grocers. If bitter isn’t your thing you can simply omit this vegetable and use any of your favourite ones.

Two other flavours are common in Bengali dishes, mustard in the form of seed, the oil or kasundi and panch phoran or five spice. This dish combines all these flavours for a traditionally sweet dish with a mild bitterness – or leave out the bitter and keep it sweet. Continue reading “Shukto – Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry”

Aam Kasundi – Bengali Mustard & Green Mango Relish

Bengali fermented mustard and green mango kasandi

Traditionally served with greens, kasundi ( कसूंदी ) is a perfect accompaniment to dry vegetable snacks such as pakora and samosa. Added to pasta it’s a marriage made in heaven.

Though available commercially, kasundi is easy to make at home. No vinegar or other acids, no additives, no cooking even. Just natural fermentation of raw materials for a condiment bursting with pro-biotic goodness and umami deliciousness. Continue reading “Aam Kasundi – Bengali Mustard & Green Mango Relish”

Aloo Gobi – Potato & Cauliflower Curry

aloo-boby - indian potato and cauliflower curry

This is my earliest memory of making curry. 1981, the London Sivananda Yoga Ashram, my home at the time, is hosting a distinguished group of Indian scholars for a week of lectures on Vedanta philosophy. Declaring European fare as “bland” our guests have brought their own cook who is promptly dispatched to the kitchen.

A Brahmin, the highest of the Hindu casts, Rita handles food exclusively with her right hand, her left dedicated to supporting a long, shimmering fold of silken sari. She requests assistance. My luck is in. Continue reading “Aloo Gobi – Potato & Cauliflower Curry”

Indian 5-Spice: Panch Phoran

indian masala splice blend

Five-spice is used in charchari and other dishes other from Bengal in north-west India.  The spice-blend (masala)  also makes a great aromatic coating for roasting vegetables.

The original uses lovage, or wild celery (radhuni).  You can buy these from larger Asian supermarkets. Otherwise black mustard seeds are a common replacement. Panch phoran is normally used whole.

Mix equal quantities of Continue reading “Indian 5-Spice: Panch Phoran”