Uttapam is a thick dosa, or pancake, topped with vegetables. Essentially it is an Indian pizza, so get creative with your ingredients and place whatever you like on top. It is divine served hot, with a side of chutney. Make sure you use a non-stick frying pan or a well-cured pan, as this uttapam is notoriously sticky.
Traditionally, this popular dish from southern India is made with a rice and lentil batter that can be time-consuming to prepare. This bread uttapam, on the other hand, is easy to make and quick to cook, not to mention it tastes delicious.
- 3 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1½ tsp fennel seeds
- 4 tbsp amchur (dried mango powder)
- 3 tbsp powdered black salt
- 1½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp asafoetida
- 1½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp dried powdered mint
- 1½ tsp ajwain seeds
- 1 tsp citric acid, optional
Green coconut chutney
- 25 g (1 oz/¾ cup) coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 60 g (2¼ oz/¾ cup) freshly grated coconut, or frozen coconut
- 1 Indian green chilli, chopped
- 1 cm (½ inch) knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1½–2 tbsp roasted chana dhal
- a pinch of salt, or to taste
- 1 tsp sugar, or to taste
- ½ tsp lemon juice, or to taste
- 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
- ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
- ¾ tsp dried black lentils (urad dhal)
- 8–10 fresh curry leaves
Coriander chutney (Chatni gashneez)
- 30 g (1 oz/1 cup) coriander (cilantro) stems and leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 Indian green chilli, seeded and roughly chopped
- 60 g (2¼ oz/½ cup) roughly chopped walnuts
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) lemon juice or vinegar
- a pinch of salt, or to taste
- 3 slices white bread, crusts removed
- 180 g (6 oz/1 cup) coarse semolina
- 70 g (2½ oz/¼ cup) Greek-style yoghurt
- 1 tsp finely ground black salt
- rice bran oil, for greasing
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp Chaat masala
- 60 g (2¼ oz/¼ cup) finely chopped tomatoes, seeds removed
- 1 Indian green chilli, or to taste, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander (cilantro)
- 2 tsp finely shredded fresh ginger
- Green coconut chutney, Coriander chutney or Greek-style yoghurt, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 1 hour
For the chaat masala, toast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a heavy-based frypan over low heat for about 3–5 minutes, stirring often, until dark brown. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.
Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind all the ingredients into a fine powder. Store excessin an airtight container.
To make the green coconut chutney, place the coriander, coconut, chilli, ginger and chana dhal in a blender. Add 100 ml (3½ fl oz) water and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt, sugar and lemon juice, mixing well.
For tempering, heat the coconut oil in a small heavy-based frying pan over medium–high heat. Add the mustard seeds and lentils. Cook for a minute or two, until the mustard seeds splutter and the lentils brown. Add the curry leaves and fry for a few seconds, until fragrant. Stir the tempering mixture through the chutney. Excess chutney will keep in the fridge for 2–3 days.
To make the coriander chutney, Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, and have a bowl of iced water on standby.
Plunge the coriander leaves into the boiling water for 3–5 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and immediately refresh in the iced water. When cooled, dry on paper towel and roughly chop.
Place the coriander, garlic, chilli and walnuts in a blender or food processor and whiz until a textured paste is achieaved, gradually adding the lemon juice or vinegar while processing. Add salt to taste. (Or you could pass the ingredients through a food grinder with a fine screen, or chop them finely, then pound together using a mortar and pestle, gradually stirring in the lemon juice and salt to taste.) Place in a small bowl, cover and chill until required.
For the uttapam, put the bread into small pieces, then soak in 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) water for about 5 minutes. Drain the bread and place in a blender. Add the semolina, yoghurt and salt and blitz to a thick, smooth paste.
Pour the batter into a bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside to rest at warm room temperature for 1 hour. The warmer and more humid, the better.
The batter should be a relatively thick consistency; stir in a little more water if needed.
Lightly grease a non-stick frying pan and place over medium heat. Be careful not to cook the uttapam on high heat, as the batter will not cook through.
For each uttapam, pour about 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan; it should spread into a thick pancake, about the size of a pikelet, and you should be able to cook several at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Pour a little rice bran oil around the pancakes. Leave to cook for about 2 minutes, then sprinkle some of the cumin seeds, chaat masala, tomatoes, chilli, coriander and ginger on top. Press the topping ingredients down lightly, turn the pancake over, and cook for another 2 minutes, until golden brown on both sides.
Serve uttapam hot, with chutney or yoghurt.
Photography by Alan Benson.This recipe and image is from Lands of the Curry Leaf by Peter Kuruvita (Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99)