Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

That Ashy Kitchen Aroma

The first time I made sambar with my mom (actually, it might have been rasam), I let the mustard seeds pop for too long and burned them. It wouldn’t be the last time, but it provided a useful cooking lesson: even a small garnish of ashes is a surefire way to ruin a meal. My mom promptly threw out the burned mustard seeds, and we popped another batch.

A few weeks ago, I was planning on supplementing adai, a crepe like dosai but unfermented and with more lentils, with coconut chutney. I also decided to make mint chutney, which I noticed on The Picky Eater’s blog.

Freeze-dried coconut flakes

Although coconut chutney is one of my favorites, I had never made it because I was under the impression that getting the coconut would be too much of a hassle. Andronico’s came to rescue with freeze-dried coconut flakes, and according to my mom, it wouldn’t take more than three minutes to prepare. On the day of, I called my mom to confirm I had the ingredients, but when we got to pottu kadalai, which I had assumed was just channa dhaal, I realized the recipe might take more than the three minutes I had allocated for it. Also called dariya dhaal, pottu kadalai is actually roasted channa dhaal. That just reminded me of another embarrassing story that I will save for another day, but note that channa dhaal is different from channa. Anyway, you can buy pottu kadalai/dariya dhaal from an Indian store, but since I had every other part of my meal ready to go, this wasn’t a viable option.

“Well, you can roast the channa dhaal yourself,” my mother offered. I found a dry pan and started dry roasting the channa dhaal. I had never dry roasted anything before, and it didn’t take too long for smoke to come out of the pan and for me to realize that constant stirring was necessary to avoid that.

Roasted and Burnt Channa Dhaal

The second attempt met with more success, and three minutes was really all it took. Here are the recipes for coconut chutney and adai. I’m bad at measuring quantities, which will be reflected in the completely imprecise directions below. Let me know if there are amounts that work for you. By the way, they went well with an eggplant and green bell pepper sambar. The mint chutney turned out well, too, but that owes to The Picky Eater!

Coconut Chutney

1/2 cup fresh grated coconut (if you use the freeze-dried variety, you should add more water)
1/4 cup of pottu kadalai/dariya dhaal/roasted channa dhaal
2 green chillies (I used two serrano peppers)
Salt to taste
Water to desired consistency

Blend the above ingredients until the coconut has a fine consistency. Season with popped mustard seeds and urad dhaal (heat oil — pop mustard seeds and roast urad dhaal until they turn golden brown).

Adai Batter

Soak (for about an hour):
1/2 cup urad dhaal
1/2 cup channa dhaal
1/2 cup toor dhaal
1 1/2 cups of rice (to be soaked separately from the dhaals).
Water to a viscous consistency, somewhere between maple syrup and pesto, but closer to maple syrup.

Grind the rice fine and smooth with 2 red chillies and 2 green chillies. Grind the dhaals coarse (enough water to get a really chunky salsa). Mix them, adding salt and hing to taste. You can also add fenugreek seeds to enhance to flavor. Refrigerate (DO NOT FERMENT). Adding onions and other vegetables (cabbage works great!) while making adai is optional.

One response

  1. You definitely need to toss frequently when dry roasting…. But i have to say, there are some things that are good smoked! e.g. smoked meat, smoked salmon (ok you wouldn’t eat those first two… but i’ve got more), smoked gouda, smoked nuts.. And what about chipotle!

    July 21, 2010 at 7:49 pm

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