Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Onion Oothapam(Uttappam)

South Indian snacks are preferred universally for their healthy tasty filling properties. They also are a rich source of dietary fiber. If you go to any leading South Indian Restaurant, apart from Idli Vada, Upma, Masala Dosa and Appam, you also get to see these wonderful dosas called Oothapams or Uttappams, topped with chopped onions and other veggies, making it a healthy alternative to its Italian cousin Pizza!
I first tasted Onion Oothapam at Madhuvan Restaurant in Hotel Moti Mahal Mangalore in the Seventies. That restaurant owned by the Kudpi family famous for their Taj Mahal chain of vegetarian restaurants was one of the best Mangalore could boast about those days. With Moti Mahal taken over by the new management, old Madhuvan moved to a new location within the hotel complex but it never had the same standards as in the Seventies.

I also tasted good Oothapams at La Shangrila in Manipal and Diana Udupi. Later, I got bank job and moved to Mysore and Bangalore. Those days, almost every hotel had excellent Onion Oothapam. Today, by all standards, I deem the Onion Oothapam at Sagar Rathna in Ocean Pearl Mangalore, the best in my home town. Yet, the one we tasted in the Canteen at the Vivekananda Kendra in Kanyakumari still beats all the Onion Oothapams. These are a few places where I tasted this lovely snack, but there are definitely better places where you may find them.

Oothapam means fluffy dosa. This dosa has a special formula that makes the batter ferment and raise to give a spongy fluffy texture while forming a well browned crust above and below. Dipped in a simple coconut chutney, this tastes very good. These dosas when made at home are very healthy, consuming very little oil and are definitely a superhit with the younger generation that often falls for its looks. We used to make these with regular saada dosa batter most of the time, but Meena got a very good recipe recently from Priya Mahendra Rao, our family friend. This recipe is actually to make our GSB style 'Mushti Dosa' but Meena found it just right for making Oothapam. Try this and you will stick to this recipe forever.
Dosa Rice - 4 cups
Urad Daal - 1 cup
Fenugreek(Methi) seeds - 1 Tsp
Puffed Rice(Charmuri/Murmura) - 1 cup
Salt - To taste
Oil/Ghee - For roasting Dosas

For the Topping:
Finely chopped onions - 2 medium
Grated carrot - 1
Chopped green chillies - 1-2
Chopped Coriander leaves - A handful
Grated Coconut - A handful(Optional)

Mix together, adding a pinch of salt.

Wash and soak rice separately in sufficient water at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
Wash and soak urad daal with methi seeds in sufficient water at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
Soak and squeeze charmuri and grind to a fine paste adding very little water.
Add the soaked urad daal with the methi seeds and grind without adding much water to a fine paste.
Remove and keep aside.
In the same grinder, grind soaked rice to a slightly coarse paste, adding sufficient water.
It should feel like rava when you pick the batter with your fingers.
Mix both the batters, add water just sufficient to make a thick dosa batter, thicker than saada dosa batter and slightly thinner than idli batter.
Cover and keep overnight for at least 8-10 hours at warm room temperature to ferment.
Add salt to taste and mix well.
Heat a nonstick tawa, drizzle one or two drops of oil and spread evenly.
Keep the heat at medium and pour a ladleful of the dosa batter.
Allow the batter to spread, but keep the dosa thick.
Cover a dome lid and allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes.
Open the lid and sprinkle a tablespoonful of the topping over the dosa and press lightly with the dosa ladle.
As the dosa begins to get crisp at the bottom, drizzle a spoonful of oil or ghee over it and flip over.
Allow to roast well for 1-2 mins.
Transfer to the serving plate and serve with coconut chutney and sambar or saagu(Korma)

You can add 1 cup chopped onions and 1 cup boiled peas to the batter to make plain Oothapams.
You can also sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and chopped ginger as topping along with onion and other veggies.
You can also top the dosa with grated cheese.

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