Layered Flatbreads with Omelette Puffs in Curry

These layered flatbreads are so delicious – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I make them often. They are so simple to make and perfect with any kind of dip or curry. I cook them for 30 seconds on each side and freeze them when they’re cool. It can be kept for 2-3 weeks in the freezer.

The omelette puffs are called paniyarams in Southern India. The rice batter used to make idlis and dosa are also fried in the same way. They are very popular as a tea time snack in the South. Really mouth-watering with coconut chutney and lentil curry (sambar). Please refer to my earlier post on Rice Cakes.

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The puffs are fried in a special cast iron pan with depressions, very much like a Takoyaki maker or an Aebleskiver Pan (Danish stuffed pancake balls). It is available on Amazon. I have been making this curry for ages. It’s absolutely delicious – especially with these flatbreads.

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Transfer the egg puffs to the curry after they become cool. That way, they won’t soak up the curry. Making both together requires patience, but the effort is really worth it. This recipe makes about 20 puffs and 12 flatbreads approximately.

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PREP: 1 hour COOK TIME: 1 hour

Ingredients

Flatbreads

11/2 cups all purpose flour

11/2 cups wheat flour

3 tbsp vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Extra vegetable oil

Omelette Puffs

12 eggs

2 onions, chopped finely

4 green chillis, chopped finely

3 tbsp ginger, chopped finely

3-4 tbsp curry leaves, chopped finely

3-4 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely

Salt to taste

Curry

2 cinnamon sticks

2 cloves

2 cardamoms

6-7 black peppercorns

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp turmeric powder

11/2 tsp red chili powder

3 tsp coriander powder

½ cup coconut, grated

2 large onions, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

Salt to taste

Instructions

Combine the flours with the salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and mix well. Add water, a little at a time and make a smooth, pliable dough. Cover and set aside.

Beat the eggs with enough salt in a large bowl. Heat oil in a small pan and add the onions. When they are cooked, add all the other ingredients and sautè for a few minutes. Cool for 5-10 minutes and add it to the egg mixture. Mix well. Heat the special pan and add about ½ teaspoon of oil into each depression in the pan. Spoon some of the egg mixture into each depression up to the brim and cook for a few minutes until they become golden brown on the underside. Using a spoon, turn the puffs gently and cook on the other side as well, using a little oil if necessary. Make all the puffs in the same way and set aside to cool.

For the curry, heat about a teaspoon of oil in a small pan/wok and add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and pepper. Add half of the chopped onions immediately and cook for a few minutes. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and mix well. Finally, add the turmeric, chilli and coriander powder. Mix well and remove from heat. Do not heat the spices too much. They will lose their flavour and aroma. Add the coconut and mix well. Cool the mixture for 10 minutes and grind with enough water in the blender to make a thick paste.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large wok and add the remaining onions. When they are cooked add the tomatoes and enough salt. When the tomatoes become soft, add the curry paste and mix well. Add two cups of water and heat on a moderate flame until it starts boiling. Simmer the curry until the oil floats on top. Add more water if necessary. The curry should not be too thick or too thin. Add the cooled egg puffs and mix well. Transfer to a serving dish.

To make the flatbreads, portion the dough into large balls . Using flour, roll each ball into a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Smear about a teaspoon of oil on to the surface of the circle and fold over to form a semi-circle. Smear a little more oil on the surface of this semi-circle and fold over to form a triangle. Roll each triangle to form a large flatbread, using a little flour. Fry the flatbreads with a little oil in a frying pan/skillet, so that they are golden brown on both sides. Serve hot with the curry. Enjoy!

Banana Stem Fritters

In India, the entire banana tree is used – the leaves are used to wrap food and to eat from, food is cooked in banana leaves, the flowers and stem are used in cooking. In the recent Masterchef Australia, Gary used banana flower in one of the Masterclasses.

Cutting the banana stem is a fine art in itself, but the effort is really worth it. Only the core of the banana stem is used and it has a mild sweet flavour. It is full of fibre and is highly beneficial for treating ulcers and acidity. The raw juice is combined with buttermilk, salt and lime and is a natural diuretic. It is rich in potassium and vitamin B6.

These fritters are the only way I can get my daughters to eat banana stems. They are extremely delicious. This recipe makes around 20 fritters.

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PREP: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 30 minutes

Ingredients

11/2 cups banana stem, chopped

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 large onion, chopped

2 green chillis, chopped finely

1 tbsp ginger, chopped finely

2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely

1 cup roasted chana gram

2 pieces of cinnamon

3 cloves

2 cardamoms

Salt to taste

Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

Place the banana stem with turmeric and a little salt in a large pan and add ¼ cup of water. Cook on medium heat until they become tender and the water is completely evaporated. The stems cook fast and the mixture should be completely dry. Set aside to cool. Dry grind in a blender to a coarse paste (do not make it into a smooth paste).

Powder the roasted gram dal in a blender and set aside.

Roast the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom in a small pan and powder it.

Add the chopped onions, green chillis, ginger and coriander to the stem paste. Add the powdered spices, enough salt and half of the gram powder and mix well. The mixture should be firm enough to be shaped into small fritters. If it is too wet, add more of the powdered gram dal. Shape into small fritters and deep fry.

Black Eyed Beans and Coconut Milk Curry

The cuisine of Kerala is very unique – some dishes are fiery while others are very delicately flavoured like this curry. Most of the recipes have coconut in them, in some form or the other. This dish is called Olan and is traditionally prepared with pumpkin. But you can use any vegetable – I added green beans to this curry.

Coconut oil is the preferred oil for cooking in this region. This dish is very nutritious and easy to prepare. It goes well with steamed rice, chapatis or any other type of flatbread.

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PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 40 minutes SERVES: 4

Ingredients

  • 3/4th cup black eyed beans
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 3 green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 11/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp rice flour mixed with 2-3 tbsp of water
  • Salt to taste

For the tempering

  • 3 tsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4 shallots, sliced thinly
  • Curry leaves

Soak the black eyed beans overnight. Wash and pressure cook with three cups of water.

Top and tail the green beans and cut them into one inch pieces.

Cook the green beans, green chillies, cumin and salt together in a pan with one cup of water. When the beans are tender, add the cooked black eyed beans and ½ cup of the coconut milk. Cook for 5 minutes on low heat. Add the rice flour mixed with water and simmer for a few more minutes.

Add the remaining coconut milk and heat for a few minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they stop popping add the shallots and cook for a few minutes. Add the curry leaves and remove immediately from the heat. Add this to the curry. Serve hot.

Madras Omelette

Every country has their own version of the omelette – the Italians have their frittata, the Spanish omelette is very popular, etc. India has it’s own version too and it differs slightly from region to region. Everybody has their own spin on it.

The recipe featured here is the one my family has been making for years. It’s extremely flavourful with the addition of the herbs and onions. I also like to add curry leaves in a lot of my cooking as it’s very good for health.

Some people add the onions and chillies raw, but I find that sauteing it in a little vegetable oil takes it to the next level. It’s tastier this way.

It’s so easy to make and makes for a really satisfying breakfast.

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PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 10 minutes Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 green chillies, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely
  • Handful of curry leaves, chopped finely
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small pan and add the onions, chillies and ginger. Saute for a few minutes until the onions are just cooked. Add the herbs and salt and mix well. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Add the onion mixture to the beaten eggs. Heat a frying pan, add about two ladles of the egg mixture and spread it around the pan. Add a little oil around the edges. When the omelette is half cooked, fold about a third of the omelette into the centre. Do the same with the remaining one third. Flip the omelette over and cook until both sides are golden and the inside is cooked through. Serve hot with toast.

Semolina Pudding

A very light and tasty pudding – this pudding is very easy to make. It’s called kheer/payasam in India. There are many varieties of this which can be made with sago, vermicelli, nuts and even bread. Most of them are milk based and it usually accompanies a traditional lunch or dinner.

Most Indian desserts have cardamom, saffron, nuts and raisins. This pudding also has edible camphor. A very little of it goes a long way. The taste that this camphor imparts to Indian sweets is very unique.

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PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 30 minutes SERVES: 6

Ingredients

  • !/2 cup semolina
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ cup cashewnuts
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • A small pinch of edible camphor
  • ¼ cup+6 tbsp ghee
  • A few strands of saffron (optional)

Instructions

Heat a large wok or pan and add the 6 tbsp ghee. When it melts, add the semolina and saute it until it just starts to change colour. Do not allow it to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining ghee in a small pan and add the cashewnuts. When they turn a light golden brown, add the raisins. When the raisins swell up, remove immediately and set aside.

If using saffron, take the strands in a small cup and pour about 1 tablespoon of hot water or milk on it. Using the back of a spoon, press the strands until the colour oozes out. Set aside.

In a large pan, heat the sugar and milk. Stir until the sugar has melted. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat to simmer and add the fried semolina very gradually, stirring all the while. Do not allow it to form lumps. Cover and cook until the semolina is soft. Add the cardamom powder, saffron (if using) and the fried nuts and raisins. Remove from heat and cool. If it becomes too thick, you can add some more milk. I added another cup of milk and a little extra sugar. This can be served hot or cold.

Split Mung Pancakes

A very satisfying comfort dish – this is a traditional recipe from the state of Andrapradesh in India. The Indian name for it is ‘pesarettu’.  It is one of the many varieties of ‘dosa’ or pancakes. Each region in India has their own version of the dosa. Since it’s made from split mung beans, it is very high in protein and it’s also completely vegan.

It’s the perfect way to start the day and keeps you going till lunchtime. You can soak the lentils overnight and grind it in the morning. I usually make it for lunch.

Traditionally, dosas are quite large but this version fits in nicely with a household pan. Stir the batter well before making each pancake. It should be served immediately.

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PREP: 4 hours COOK TIME: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups split green mung
  • 2 green chillies
  • ½ cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp ginger, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • Curry leaves, chopped finely
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

Coconut Chutney

  • 2 cups coconut, grated
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 1 tsp ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted/puffed chana dal
  • Few curry leaves
  • Salt to taste

Wash the mung dal and add water to just cover it. Soak for about 4 hours.

Grind to a coarse consistency with the green chillies, coriander, cumin and ginger in a blender or food processor. Do not add too much water while grinding. The batter should fall easily from the spoon but it should remain thick. You can add a little water if it’s too thick.

Heat about 2 tbsp of oil and saute the onions until they are half cooked. Add the curry leaves and remove from heat. Add this to the ground batter.

Heat a large frying pan, spoon ladles of the batter in the centre and using a flat based ladle, spread the batter across the pan starting from the centre using a clockwise movement. Spread it as thinly as possible and pour a little oil around the edges of the pancake and in the centre as well. Cook until the edges are crisp and golden brown. Flip the pancake and cook for a few minutes on the other side. Turn it back on the original side and fold over into a semi-circle or roll it starting from one edge (as pictured).

For the coconut chutney, grind all the ingredients together with just enough water in a blender to a fine paste. Add more water if required. Heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds when it becomes hot. When they stop popping, add the split lentils. When they turn golden brown, add the curry leaves and remove immediately from the heat. Garnish the chutney with this dressing.

Serve the pancakes with the coconut chutney. This quantity makes about 10-12 pancakes.