Here’s the easiest thing you can make to eat with thosai (or dosai, as they say in India), the recipe again provided by my friend Unaicy in Bangkok:
- Roasted channa dhal (chick peas) from an Indian grocer – in Bangkok, I get this from the un-originally named Spices R Us in Sukhumvit soi 20, back of the Rembrandt Hotel. The peas should be dry and crunchy. Don’t use the soft ones out of a can, they’re not the same. If you can’t get these, just make the chutney without. It’ll still taste good – the channa just makes it more substantial and filling.
- Roughly the same amount of fresh grated coconut as channa dhal – have the brown skin removed before it is grated
- Small piece of fresh ginger
- 3-4 large green chillies – NOT the small ‘birds-eye’ ones, which are too hot
- Salt to taste
Put everything in the blender and whizz. The result should be a pale green, mousse-like blend. Empty out into a bowl. Season the mix with some Indian spices. To do this, heat a little oil and add a spoonful of urid dhal and black mustard seed. When the seeds start to spatter, throw in a few curry leaves to get crisp. Drain off the oil from the spices. Stir this spice mix into the chutney along, check and adjust salt levels, and you’re done.
You could do different versions of this, substituting the roasted channa dhal with a bunch of coriander or mint leaves – or using both the channa and the herbs together. You could also do a red version using red instead of green chillies. I like doing both – one with red chillies and channa, another with green chillies and mint – just because it looks pretty on the plate.
When my brother turned up recently, I offered to make him some thosai. As children, we used to eat it with brown sugar or (even better) jaggery, the really dark, lumpy palm sugar. “Erm,” he said unenthusiastically. “I don’t really like the taste of thosai that much.” It’s a bit like the Ethiopian flatbread injera, which also uses a fermented batter.
Me: You used to eat it.
Him: Only because the sugar covered up the taste.
Me: You could still have it with sugar.
Him: No. I don’t think so.