Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Sanna Polo(Savoury Onion Dosa)

Sanna Polo is a cousin of the mouthwatering GSB specialties Pathrode and Sanna Khotto. In Konkani Sanna means steamed dumpling or idli and polo means dosa. Perhaps in the olden days dosas evolved much later and before that only steamed dishes were prepared by the Konkanis. This is a savoury dosa made with a coconut based masala with Tuvar Daal and Rice paste, chopped onion mixed in, and also chopped cabbage now a days. It is well savoured with rice and daalithove, congi or just rice and curd. Some even love to relish it with drinks as a starter.
My mother used to make sanna polo with just chopped onions added to the masala paste and roast them on iron skillet heated on charcoal fire until the mid Sixties when we received our cooking gas connection. Other variants she made, were 'Soyye Sanna Polo' made with just rice and coconut masala with lots of asafotoeda, 'Keerlaa Sanna Polo' or bamboo shoot sanna polo.

Modern day sanna polo has many versions including cabbage, capsicum, spring onions or some leafy vegetables mixed in. The monsoon specialty Taikilo or Tajank leaves are also mixed in with masala paste and roasted into dosas by those who avoid fatty daangar/vada/ambade. Whichever way you make it, sanna polo is a delicacy, and it is much sought after, by almost all those who know its taste!

My father used to direct my mother to make sanna polo as crisp and roasted as omelette. He used to say, chopped onions should get well browned and the dosa should be crisp outside and soft inside. My mother used to add less rice and more tuvar daal to the batter, to make them more soft. That's a disadvantage while roasting such dosas, for they sometimes get stuck to the iron skillet and get burnt in the deal. I have seen the plight of my mother struggling to get them properly roasted on time for the big family of almost 10 members those days. Each dosa takes at least 8-10 minutes to get ready.

I remember three funny incidents related to sanna polo. 

Back in Bunder where I worked for a Bank from 1985 to 1996, Hotel Krishna Prasad used to make sanna polo as extra item with plate meals for lunch, on a particular day in a week. A bank inspector hailing from Udupi was deputed to our branch and he asked us where to have the lunch. I recommended him Krishna Prasad and also told him that they make sanna polo as special item. He came along with me for lunch and there we found last few sanna polo remaining. The inspector asked for one dosa extra and the hotel owners refused to give extra, saying they make them in limited quantity and others also should get a chance to taste them. The inspector was furious, he had a long verbal argument with the owners and even after two days, he was complaining about sanna polo!

In another incidence, Vishwa Saraswat Sammelan was held at Sangha Niketan Mangalore in December 1999 and I was a volunteer. It was a 3 days function with cultural activities and Saraswat food festival. The food committee used to highlight the daily menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On the second day, there was sanna polo for lunch. We saw a huge crowd lined up for lunch that day, almost double than that of the previous day. Many had come to taste sanna polo and other goodies highlighted o the menu that day! 

I could overhear one woman say, "Today they have sanna polo on the menu. So my husband said, we all shall go to Sangha Niketan and eat there!"

To the utter disappointment of many, sanna polo was getting too long to get roasted, for the kitchen was equipped with a tawa suitable for roasting just 40 or 50 dosas at a time, but there were over 600 people waiting in line for them! There were chaos at the buffet counter and many started complaining about not getting sanna polo.

Someone grumbled, "We would not have come for lunch here, had we known that sanna polo is not ready. We would have happily dined in Hotel Ayodhya!"

Talking about Hotel Ayodhya, I have one more incidence to quote, but that was experienced by my brother. Having settled abroad since many years and while on a trip to hometown some years ago, he went to Hotel Ayodhya to get typical GSB meals packed one afternoon. As he placed order, he asked the partner what's special for lunch. The partner said 'Sanna Polo' is just ready, fresh and hot from the tawa. He then went into the pantry and came back with a sanna polo in his hand. To my brother's amusement, he broke the sanna polo into two, shared one piece with my brother, while gobbling up the other one himself! 

My brother felt homely and said, "This can happen only in Mangalore!"

Such is the power of this dosa. Folks, don't be disappointed like those in the first two instances. Make them at home following this easy recipe and be happy, spread happiness. 

The recipe shown here is sufficient for making 12 dosas, 4" in diameter and about 1/4" thick, sufficient for a family of 6. Make them relish them and leave a comment about whether or not you liked them.
Dosa Rice - 1 Cup
Tuvar Daal - 1 Cup
Grated Coconut - 1 Cup
Red Short Chillies - 4 
Red Long Chillies - 4
Kashmiri Chilli Powder(Optional for colour) - 1 tsp
Tamarind - Size of a Kabuli chana
Onions - 4 medium, finely chopped(Around 2 cups)
Salt - 1 Tsp(or according to taste)
Oil(Preferably Coconut Oil) - around 12 Tsp, for roasting dosas

Wash and soak rice and daal together in a bowl with sufficient water at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
Roast the chillies with little oil until crisp.
Grind grated coconut along with salt, roasted chillies and tamarind into a chutney, without adding water.
Add the soaked rice and daal and grind into as smooth a paste as possible, adding very little water if necessary.
Transfer the masala paste into a mixing bowl and collect the water used for washing the mixer jar separately.
Add optional Kashmiri chilli powder and chopped onions to the masala paste and mix well. 
If necessary add the water from the mixer jar but see that the batter is thick and not watery.
Keep for 15-30 minutes.
Check for salt.
Heat a nonstick dosa tawa and reduce the flame to medium.
Drizzle some coconut oil and pour a ladleful of the batter on one side of the tawa. 
Spread the batter into a 1/4" thick 4" diameter dosa.
Spread two or three such dosas on the pan if it accommodates as many.
Cover the dosas with a dome lid and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
As the upper surface of the dosas turn opaque and bottom starts to get roasted, drizzle some more oil on each one of the dosas and flip them over to roast on the other side.
Allow to roast for another 2-3 minutes.
Ensure that both the sides are well browned but not charred.
The whole process should take around 8-10 minutes.
Transfer the dosas  on to a serving platter and serve immediately.
You can reduce the amount of chopped onions and add equal quantity chopped cabbage to make cabbage sanna polo.
The same batter can be used to make cabbage ambade, taikile daangar, drumstick leaves daangar, pumpkin leaves daangar, sanna khotto/muddo or pathrode.
If you want to make pathrode, add some more tamarind and lots of asafotoeda to the batter.


Unknown said...

can I add bamboo shoot pieces to the batter

Rajanikanth Shenoy, Kudpi said...

Tender Bamboo Shoot savourty dosa is different. That is made with rice, tamarind, coconut and chilli batter without adding Tuvar Daal. I will post that recipe soon.

Unknown said...

Excellent in taste and very enjoyable. I have been eating this Sanna Polol as far as I remember nearly eight decades. The proportions haven't changed. Variation : Chana dal can be used in stead of Toor dal too!

Rajanikanth Shenoy, Kudpi said...

Thank you Pundalik Prabhu. Yes. Chana Daal can be used in many snack type dishes in place of Tuvar Daal. I agree with you.


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