The Food of My Homeland
The Foodie Bugle is always on the lookout for evocative recipes from home and hearth, retold by cooks who have moved away from their homelands and gone to live in a new place. What do they remember about eating that special treat? Can they describe it to our readers, and recount the authentic recipe, so that we too can share a slice of that memory? We caught up with Maunika Gowardhan, and her recipe really made us hungry.
Born in Mumbai and growing up on Indian food, Maunika Gowardhan is passionate about versatile, regional Indian cuisine. She is a private chef cooking for discerning diners across the North East of England, and she does food fair demonstrations and cookery classes for both adults and children that are tailor-made.
Maunika is also an Indian food columnist and freelance writer for regional food and lifestyle magazines and cook book publishers. She is currently writing her first Indian cookbook. She shares her cooking skills and passions as the Indian food expert with a slot on BBC Radio Newcastle 95.4FM. All of Maunika’s news, views and foodie adventures can be found on her popular food Blog at www.cookinacurry.co.uk. To find out more about all the Indian menus she is cooking on a daily basis for clients or at home as well as hints and tips, follow her on Twitter @cookinacurry.
Uttapam – South Indian savoury pancakes by Maunika Gowardhan
When I was younger, living in Mumbai, I usually left my home at 7.15am promptly, making my way straight to college. My friends and I would all meet in the college cark park and then walk over to the local south Indian coffee house.
Yes, that was my ‘everyday’ ritual. No college for me at 19 years of age, but food was most definitely on the agenda. I suppose that my friends and I skipped classes because breakfast on a frosty morning sounded much more enticing; the prospect of a warm cup of tea and a gossip was just too tempting. The bustling coffee house was always filled with students and even office workers scoffing away the baked goods before they made their way to work.
Dosas, steaming idlis, hot sambar and of course my all-time favourite was the tomato uttapam. These circular rice flour based beauties were on the menu with a variety of toppings to choose from. Onion, chillies, tomato and even cheese was on offer. I always went for the tomato variety served with sambar (south indian lentils) and coconut chutney. The uttapam was crisp around the edges but moist, fluffy and soft when I tucked in. Dunking each bite in the sambar and the chutney, the mix of flavours was bursting with the delicious spiciness and fragrance of cumin and tomatoes, with a spice kick from the dips.
My mother would cook us a late breakfast after I got back from college. In a bid not to disappoint my mum, I would eat a second breakfast as she always thought I must have been starving after an early morning of classes & study. (Sorry Mum!) But it’s the start of the day I’d always look forward to and reminisce about even today.
The recipe below is something I cook often now and I have to admit, there is a lot of curiosity about south Indian recipes and food from the region in general from the people I work with and even friends I have made in England. It’s easier, I suppose, to buy the instant batter mix which is readily available in Asian food stores and mix it up, rather than the long winded approach I have in the recipe. But I know my proportions and usually adapt the ratio of the rice to lentils based on how I like the uttapam made, which isn’t something you can do with instant batter. My choice of favourite toppings is onions, tomatoes and curry leaves. I also add some chillies for that additional heat, and I serve it with coconut chutney and warm sambar.
It’s a perfect way to start the day. The balance of nutty, spicy and moist flavours is just what I call perfect comfort food.
Ingredients to make approximately 8-10 pancakes
350gms long grain rice (you can even add leftover rice to 180gms uncooked rice to make up the proportions)
125gms urad dal; husked white variety available in Asian food stores
Pinch of fenugreek powder
Salt to taste
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, sliced into small pieces
5-6 curry leaves
Vegetable oil for frying
1.Rinse and soak the rice and dal separately in plenty of water for 4-5hrs. Drain and blend the rice to a smooth batter with a hand held blender. Separately blend the lentils as well, also to the consistency of a smooth batter. Mix both the batters, add fenugreek powder and salt. Stir well and set aside over night to ferment.
2. Heat a frying pan on medium heat and add a teaspoon of the vegetable oil. Add a little more water to the batter to get it to a pouring consistency if it’s too thick. Ladle out the batter onto the hot pan and spread it out slightly to a size of a pancake, approximately 10 – 12 cm in diameter. Top the uttapam pancake with tomato, onions & curry leaves. Cook for a couple of minutes.
3. Drizzle a little oil over the vegetables. Flip the pancake over and cook on the other side for a further minute until slightly charred.
4. Repeat the process to make more uttapams.
5. Serve the warm uttapams with plain yoghurt or coconut chutney and sambar.
Note: If you have leftover batter that works really well to make uttapams for the next day too. If you’re using ready batter mixes just add the fenugreek powder and fry them as mentioned. Griddle pans work best, though a frying pan would be just as good.
Cook a Curry at Stanger’s Cookshop
Stanger’s Cookshop has teamed up with Maunika Gowardhan to offer an Indian cookery workshop in Newcastle. Maunika a food writer and private chef; will be sharing her recipes, cooking secrets and ideas on regional fresh Indian cooking with foodies. You also get to sample all the curries and kebabs along with a glass of wine.
It’s a chance to find out more about home cooked Indian meals and also to have a peak at all the wonderful cookware in Stanger’s Cookshop, including Le Creuset cookware, kitchen and baking equipment, spices and chutneys. All the workshop details are listed below:
Dates for the workshop are as follows
- 23rd June Thursday at 6pm
- 25th June Saturday at 12noon
- 30th June Thursday at 6pm
- 2nd July Saturday at 12noon
The two hour workshop costs £30 per person to include a masterclass with Maunika showcasing easy to cook curries, Indian breads and chutneys. The workshop will include an Indian meal comprising of kebabs, Indian street food, curries, naan bread, chutneys and poppadums with a glass of wine. You will have easy to follow recipe cards to take away. Stanger’s Cookshop is also offering a 10% discount off their stock in store for the day.
For bookings please ring Stanger’s Cookshop on 0191 281 8563 or get in touch via email at [email protected]
Please note Stanger’s Cookshop is closed on Sundays and Bank holidays