I am not sure i have mentioned this before, but i have never ever made my own dosa/ idli batter. Even when i was in Chennai and in spite of having an awesome maid i still used to buy the ready mix and i was very happy with it. Enter Nottingham and we had to pay close to 6 quid for a dosa whenever we craved it..which was actually not too often. We didn't miss dosa/ idli an awful lot to actually grind and make the batter. So the occasional visits to the mallu restaurant just around the corner was a lot enough to quench our requirement.
London was different. East Ham, the hub of South Indian restaurants and grocery stores, was like culture shock. Even though it was a bit far away from where we stayed, a once in two months visit there gave us the pleasure of acquiring all things mallu. We also discovered that idli/ dosa batter was available in packets..freshly made and was glad we didn't have to pay a humongous amount of money to satisfy our dosa cravings. So now we pick up 2 on each of our visits to East Ham and that lasts us for ever. When we get sick of the dosa and idli, we buy an uppma mix (yes, i have never made my own and don't intend to either...the MTR ones are so awesome) and gobble on that . Honestly, Indian food is no longer a preference in our household now. We are so happy with the pastas and the bakes and the stir fries. Initially we had to have rice at least once a week..now we don't even miss it and so don't have to whip up a million other curries and veggies to go with it.
So last weekend we headed to East Ham and picked up a packet of dosa batter, but completely forgot to buy the sambar powder. So i had to make do with a coconut chutney and some fish curry (again the instant ones). Had a wee bit of batter left over from the dosa and so tried out fried idli's which my grand mom used to make as a tea-time snack. Now, as much as i like the idea of a tea-time snack, its horrible to have to slog it out and make something on your own and then enjoy it. By the time I'm done making it and cleaning up, I am in no mood to enjoy what i made. Same story for almost everything i make btw!
The recipe for fried idli and chutney was adapted from a blog i stumbled upon. They have named it Masala Paniyaram, a name I'm familiar with but I've always referred to it as fried masala idli. Now i didn't have the particular vessel to fry them in, so i used a mini egg pan and made cookie-size idli's which were so cute and came out just as i wanted.
Idli batter- 1 cup
English Shallots- 2, roughly chopped
Green chilli- 3, chopped
Ginger- 1 inch piece, roughly chopped
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Pepper pwd- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- a handful, chopped
Coriander leaves- a handful, chopped
Salt- to taste
Asafoetida- a pinch
Oil- enough to fry
Mix all the above ingredients together, except the batter, and lightly crush with a pestle or the back of a spoon...just to get the flavours out. Add the batter to this and mix well. Check for salt, spice etc. and add more if required.
Heat oil in the pan and pour a spoon full. Flip and fry the other side after a few minutes.
Drain on paper towels and serve with chutney.
Notes: I added quite a bit of curry leaves and coriander leaves because i love the taste. You can reduce it if you want.
I added a wee bit of ghee to the oil just to get a nice flavour...its not advisable to do so on a regular basis, for obvious health reasons.
I am not typing out the chutney recipe as I followed the exact measurements and procedure as mentioned here. I personally would have liked it a bit more spicy. Maybe next time.