The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, September 15, 2002
What's Cooking

Southern spice & everything nice

THINK of South India and one is sure to think of mouth-watering dosas, idlis, vadas and the lip-smacking aroma of sambars and rasams. This week, I bring to you some of the wonderful delicacies from the southern parts of the country. Though the south Indians do use wheat and other grains in fair amounts, yet rice forms the staple diet here. Though some of the delicacies are fried, most of the items are good wholesome balanced dishes, consisting of dal, rice, vegetables, etc, all used in one recipe.

Wherever soaking of grain is required, or fermenting of the batter is called for, do not pinch on the hours required. Only when the soaking and fermenting processes are properly executed, will the end product have the required softness, lightness and taste.

Since these dishes required a lot of soaking, grinding, steaming, etc., to enjoy them and yet not be left stuck in the kitchen for hours, plan your cooking ahead. Though lengthy, up to 75 per cent of the cooking process, including preparation of the accompaniments, can be completed ahead of time to leave you with enough time to entertain guests.




Ordinary rice 1 cup

Parboiled rice 1 cup

Oil 2 tbsp

Salt to taste


Method: Wash and soak rice together overnight. Grind together to a fine paste. Keep aside for 5-6 hours. Put into idli moulds and steam till cooked. Grease a sev press. Place warm idlis in it and press. Press out sev in a 4" circle. See that ends overlap. Allow to cool a bit. Use greased palms and lift. Place in a double-walled colander or steamer to keep warm.

Serve hot with ghee and chutney, garnished with coconut and coriander.

Variations: Top with powdered sugar and ghee while serving. Cool, break unevenly. Heat oil in a pan, add finely chopped chillies and onions, fry till tender, add sev, salt, lemon juice, coriander, grated coconut, and mix. Serve warm or cold. Sun dry the idiappams till dry and crisp. Store and fry or steam when desired. Will keep for a few weeks in dry form.

Green gram dosa


Peeled green gram 1 cup

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Green chillies 3

Red chillies 3

Onions 4

Asafoetida 1/4 tsp

Ginger small piece

Coriander leaves a sprig

Salt to taste

Method: Soak green gram in water for 3-4 hours. Clean and strain. Grind with red chillies, cumin seeds and salt.

Chop onions, ginger, coriander leaves and a green chilli. Fry lightly. Use the dough to make a dosa. Fill with onion filling and fold.

Jackfruit curry


Raw jackfruit 400 gm

Tamarind size of a

small lemon

Red chillies 2

Green chilli 1

Oil 2 tbsp

Chilli powder 1 tsp

Mustard 2 1/2 tsp

Bengal gram 2 tbsp

Turmeric 1/2 tsp

Salt 1 tsp

Asafoetida a pinch

Curry leaves 1 sprig

Method: Peel the jackfruit and chop into small pieces. Grind in mixer to get tiny rough pieces. Remove any remnants of skin and strands. Add half a glass of water, salt, turmeric to the jackfruit and pressure-cook for 3 minutes. Let it cool well.

Soak tamarind in water. Extract 2 tbsp of thick juice. Chop green chilli. Take 1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, add a few drops of water and grind. Break red chillies into small pieces and fry with 1 tsp mustard, asafoetida, chilli powder, curry leaves and dry bengal gram.

Squeeze jackfruit pieces to remove water and add to the frying pan. Add tamarind pulp, green chillies and ground mustard. Cook till it evaporates and the curry is crisp.


Spice powders

These powders can be stored in the refrigerator to retain their freshness for up to one year!

Kura podi (curry powder)


Chana dal 1 cup

Urad dal 1/2 cup

Red chillies 10 large

Coriander seeds 1/4 cup

Asafoetida 1/4 tsp

Method: Fry all ingredients in 1 tsp of oil on low heat. Once the fried mixture is lukewarm transfer contents to blender and add a tablespoon of salt and grind to a fine powder. Store in a jar in refrigerator.

Sambar podi (sambar powder)


Chana dal 1 cup

Coriander seeds 3/4 cup

Red chillies 10 large

Black pepper (whole) 1 tsp

Fenugreek 1/4 tsp

Pinch of asafoetida

Method: Fry ingredients in a teaspoon of oil on low heat and powder the fried stuff in blender when lukewarm to a fine powder.

Charu podi (rasam powder)


Coriander seeds 1 cup

Cumin seeds 1/2 cup

Black pepper 1/2 cup

Method: Powder these without oil or frying. The powder need not be stored in refrigerator. Add while making rasam.

Pacchadi podi (chutney powder)


Fenugreek seeds 1 tbsp

Red chillies 20 large

Mustard seeds 1 tbsp

Asafoetida 1/4 tsp

Salt 1 tbsp

Method: Fry all ingredients except salt in a teaspoon of oil on low heat . When lukewarm, grind with salt to a fine powder. This powder is used to make all kinds of chutneys with tomatoes, egg plant, raw tamarind, cucumber.