Life is getting fast and frenetic for everyone. Anyone I see is either rushing out with not a moment to spare apart from a quick hello or is so engrossed in their phones that it becomes a lot painful to just look up and take stock of the world around. For those like me who have all the time in the world, life in this small town opens up lots of avenues for entertainment. Temples, markets, libraries and movie theatres are all a stone’s throw away and on the days you prefer to stay put at home there are portals like the Netflix and Amazon Prime to offer maximum entertainment. But amidst the madness and frenzy of it all there are times when everything comes to a pause….when you become a bit philosophical and would rather reflect and ponder over the meaning of it all. The passing of our elderly neighbor, all of 100 years, was one such occasion. From the time we moved to Thrissur, we were used to the sight from our 7th floor window of the elderly couple relaxing and reading their morning newspaper in the spacious portico of their sprawling house opposite. Our only encounter with them was when we were invited for their 75th wedding anniversary. Their house itself is a sight for sore eyes with its front garden always in bloom with seasonal flowers and fruits. Letting ourselves into the compound to pay our last respects, we saw the entire family collected around the floral decorated coffin. A steady stream of visitors, mostly octogenarians filed past silently. The entire setting was of grace and poise and also of celebration of the life of a man who had lived a full and meaningful life raising a family and establishing himself as a man of importance in the society.
I look at all this with a sense of wonder and awe. For us Kerala had always been that safe sanctuary, that Shangrila that you would longingly come to spend vacations and short holidays. We never ever had that chance to be a proper Keralite in all those years we were away in different states of the country. But now when we are here for good to spend the evening-years of life, we realize that so much has changed. The simple joys of just being together, sharing and caring for each other, which were the hallmarks of our families have all vanished. This is the times of formal visiting and forced conversations. But then there are a few specks of sunshine too. A hearty meal is still enjoyed and that is the way to revive the long lost happy moments of togetherness and fun. I cook to my heart’s content when I call my family over….the exercise can leave me tired and exhausted but the joy I get when I share a lovingly cooked meal with everyone is enough to get me past my blues.
There cannot be more indigenous a Kerala preparation than the Unakkalleri Dosa. The Unakkaleri is made from paddy that is dried in the shade and pounded to remove the husk. Much of the bran is left intact which gives the rice its characteristic reddish brown colour. Highly nutritious and with disease fighting capabilities, the Unakkaleri is often used to prepare gruel/kanji to the sick. The ground rice paste for the dosa has the distinct smell of the soft wet earth of Kerala and add a generous amount of coconut and you get a batter that gives off the the rich and delicate aroma of coconuts and jeera/cumin. If ever I craved for Kerala food in the North it was for these soft and delicate dosas, because those days it was quite difficult to get some Unakkaleri outside of the state. Now with a click of a button you have your Unakkaleri delivered home. The dosa goes well with the coconut onion chutney and the dosapodi. But then who can wait for your chutney to be ready when that hot and fragrant dosa is calling you to just tuck in!
Ingredients for the Dosa
Unakkaleri : 2 cups.
Grated coconut : 1 and 1/2 cup.
Jeera/cumin: 1 tblesp.
Salt to taste
For the coconut-onion chutney
- Soak the rice in water for about 2-3 hrs.
- In a blender/mixie grind the rice to a smooth paste and transfer to a bowl.
- Now grind the coconut and jeera to a coarse paste and mix in with the rice to a watery free flowing batter.
- On a medium hot tawa make your dosa by quickly spreading a ladle of batter from the outer edges to the inside and paouing a tsp of gingely oil on top. Once one side is done which takes a minute flip it to the other side and give it another minute or more to slowly crisp up. Remove to a plate.
Ingredients for the chutneys
Grated coconut : 2 cups.
Green chillies : 2 ( remove seeds if needed).
Onion : 1 small.
Red chilli pdr : 1 tsp. ( use kashmiri chilli for colour).
Salt to taste
Oil for tempering
Mustard seeds : 1/2 tsp.
Red chilli whole : 1
Curry leaves : 2-3.
- In a blender add 1 cup of grated coconut , onion sliced, salt and the redchilli pdr. Add just enough water to make into a coaresly ground chutney. Transfer to bowl.
- For the green coconut chutney coarsely grind 1 cup grated coconut with the green chillies and salt. Transfer to bowl. Now in a kadhai pour 1 tsp of oil and on medioum heat temper mustard seeds, redchilli brokren up and curry leaves and add to the chutney.
Ingredients for thr Dosa Podi
Urad/ black gram dal : 1 cup.
Arhar/ Pigeon pea dal : 1 cup.
Whole kashmiri chillies : 15 no;s.
Black til/ sesame seeds : 1 tsp full.
Asafoetida pdr : 1/2 tsp full.
Salt to taste
- Keep a kadhai on medium heat and start dry roasting the udad dal till it becomes golden light brown in colour.Keep aside.
- In the same kadhai roast the arhar Dal till it becomes almost the colour of red ants. At this stage add the chillies and the sesame and roast for another 4 minutes.
- Grind the dals and chillies and pass the powder through a sieve . Add the Asafoetida pdr and salt. Once cool transfer the podi to an airtight jar wher it can stay fresh for a couple of months.
- To eat with dosa take some podi in a bowl and mix it with some coconut oil till it becomes a thick paste.