Ultimate Guide to Rice Pancakes with Sambar and Chutney: South Indian Breakfast

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine starting your day with a plate of warm rice pancakes, dipped in a flavorful sambar and a side of fresh chutney. This classic South Indian breakfast, known for its simplicity and rich flavors, has been a morning staple for generations. It’s not just a meal; it’s a delightful experience that awakens your senses and nourishes your soul.

Rice pancakes, or dosas, are wonderfully versatile, pairing perfectly with the tangy and spicy sambar, a lentil-based stew brimming with vegetables and spices. The chutney, made from coconut, herbs, and various spices, adds a refreshing touch that complements the robust flavors of the sambar. This trio is more than just food; it’s a perfect harmony of textures and tastes that’ll transport you straight to the heart of South India.

Ingredients

Gather all the necessary components to whip up this delightful South Indian breakfast featuring rice pancakes, sambar, and chutney. Follow along to prepare this traditional meal that brings a taste of South India right to your kitchen.

Rice Pancakes

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Non-stick cooking spray for frying

Sambar

  • 1/2 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin, diced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 green chili, slit
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon sambar powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • A few curry leaves
  • 1 dried red chili

Other Ingredients

  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 tablespoon roasted Bengal gram (chana dal)
  • 1 small piece of tamarind
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • A few curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons oil for tempering

Tools and Equipment

Before you embark on making this delightful South Indian breakfast, ensure you have the right tools and equipment. Having everything ready beforehand will make the cooking process smoother and more enjoyable.

For Rice Pancakes (Dosas)

  • Non-stick Skillet or Dosa Pan: A large non-stick skillet or a traditional dosa pan is crucial for cooking dosas. This ensures they come off the pan easily without sticking and maintains an even cooking surface.
  • Ladle and Spatula: Use a ladle to pour the batter onto the pan and spread it evenly. A flat spatula will help flip the dosas and remove them without tearing.
  • Mixing Bowl: Needed for preparing and mixing the dosa batter to the right consistency.

For Sambar

  • Large Saucepan or Dutch Oven: The sambar requires simmering, so a large pot or Dutch oven that distributes heat well is ideal.
  • Wooden Spoon: A sturdy wooden spoon is necessary for stirring the sambar, allowing consistent cooking without scratching your pot.
  • Pressure Cooker (Optional): For quicker cooking of lentils, you can use a pressure cooker, which reduces the cooking time significantly.

For Chutney

  • Blender or Food Processor: To achieve the fine, creamy texture of the coconut chutycos, a blender or food processor is essential.
  • Small Skillet: Used for tempering spices, a small skillet is perfect as it provides just enough space to heat the spices evenly.

For Other Tools

  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Precision is key in achieving the authentic taste of this breakfast, so measuring your ingredients accurately is important.
  • Knife and Chopping Board: For prepping ingredients such as vegetables for the sambar and herbs for the chutney.

Preparation

Now that you have all your ingredients and tools ready, let’s start prepping for your South Indian breakfast feast. Ensure your kitchen space is clean and organize your equipment as you’ll start with the rice pancake batter, followed by the sambar, and finally the chuttee.

Preparing Rice Pancake Batter

  1. Begin by soaking 2 cups of rice and 1/2 cup of urad dal separately in water for about 6-8 hours. Make sure to use enough water as they will expand.
  2. After soaking, drain the rice and dal, and add them to a grinder. Pour in 1/2 cup of water gradually as you grind to a smooth paste.
  3. Transfer the batter to a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and mix thoroughly.
  4. Cover the bowl with a lid or a moist cloth and let it ferment in a warm place for 8-10 hours. The batter should almost double in size and show tiny air bubbles, indicating it’s ready to be cooked.

Preparing Ingredients for Sambar

  1. Rinse 1 cup of toor dal under cold water until the water runs clear.
  2. In a large saucepan, add the rinsed dal and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer on medium heat until the dal is soft and mushy, which typically takes about 20-25 minutes.
  3. Prepare the vegetables while the dal cooks. Peel and chop 1 carrot, 1 potato, and a small piece of pumpkin into bite-sized pieces. Also, slice 1 tomato and 1 onion.
  4. Once the dal is cooked, add the chopped vegetables, tomato, and onion to the saucepan. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon of sambar powder, and salt to taste.
  5. Let the sambar simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Making the Coconut Chutney

  1. Take 1 cup of fresh coconut and roughly chop it into smaller pieces.
  2. In a small pan, heat a teaspoon of oil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds and a few curry leaves. Let them sputter, which usually takes about a minute.
  3. Combine the chopped coconut, mustard seeds, curry leaves, 3-4 dried red chilies, and a small piece of tamarind in a blender.
  4. Grind these ingredients to a coarse paste, adding water incrementally to achieve the desired consistency of the chutney.
  5. Season with salt to taste and transfer to a serving bowl.

Directions

Follow these detailed steps to bring the vibrant flavors of a South Indian breakfast right into your kitchen. Let’s get started with cooking these delightful rice pancakes, aromatic sambar, and fresh chutney.

Cooking Rice Pancakes

  1. Begin by heating a non-stick skillet on medium heat. If you’re using a traditional iron griddle, make sure it’s well-seasoned to prevent sticking.
  2. Give your dosa batter a good stir to ensure it’s well-mixed. Pour a ladleful of batter onto the center of the skillet.
  3. Immediately, using the back of the ladle, spread the batter outward in a swift, circular motion to create a thin pancake.
  4. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil around the edges of the dosa and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the edges start lifting from the pan and the underside is golden brown.
  5. Flip the dosa with a spatula and cook for another minute on the other side until crisp and golden.
  6. Remove the dosa from the skillet and place it on a warm plate. Repeat the process for the remaining batter. Serve hot with sambar and chutney.

Cooking Sambar

  1. In a large saucepan, bring 1 liter of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of rinsed and drained toor dal, a pinch of turmeric, and a tablespoon of salt.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the dal is tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup each of chopped tomatoes, onions, carrots, and bell peppers to the cooked dal.
  4. Stir in 2 tablespoons of sambar powder, a teaspoon of crushed garlic, and ½ teaspoon of tamarind paste.
  5. Allow the mixture to simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
  6. Adjust seasoning with salt, and add a pinch of asafoetida for that authentic flavor.
  7. Finish by tempering in a separate small pan: heat a tablespoon of ghee, add a teaspoon of mustard seeds, a few curry leaves, and a pinch of dried red chili flakes. Once the mustard seeds start popping, pour this over the sambar. Stir well before serving.

Cooking the Coconut Chutney

  1. In your blender, combine 1 cup of freshly grated coconut, 2 tablespoons of roasted chana dal, 3-4 dried red chilies (adjust to your spice preference), and a small piece of tamarind.
  2. Add about ½ cup of water to facilitate blending. Blend on high until smooth.
  3. Transfer the chutreny to a serving bowl.
  4. In a small pan, heat a teaspoon of oil, add a teaspoon of mustard seeds, and a few curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds start to pop, pour this tempering over the chutney.
  5. Mix well and season with salt to taste.

With these dishes ready, you have everything you need to enjoy a traditional South eeIndian breakfast.

Assembly

Once you’ve prepared the rice pancakes (dosas), sambar, and chutney, assembling your meal is the final step to enjoying this delightfully traditional South Indian breakfast. Follow these steps to assemble your dish efficiently and tastefully.

Arranging Your Dosas

  1. Place a freshly cooked dosa on a clean, flat plate. Make sure it’s warm to ensure it retains its texture and flavor.
  2. If you prefer your dosas with a bit of crisp, place them in a preheated oven at 200°F for a few minutes before serving.

Adding the Sambar and Chutney

  1. Pour a generous ladle of warm sambar next to or over the dosa, according to your preference.
  2. Add a dollop of coconut chutney on the side of the dosa. The creamy texture and cooling flavor of the chutney balance the spices of the sambar beautifully.

Garnishing

  1. Sprinkle a small amount of finely chopped fresh cilantro over the dosa for an added burst of color and freshness.
  2. For a bit of crunch, scatter a few fried curry leaves or mustard seeds over the top.

Serving Suggestions

After savoring the process of preparing your rice pancakes, sambar, and coconut chutney, it’s time to delve into the best ways to serve this iconic South Indian breakfast. Presenting each component attractively not only enhances the dining experience but also highlights the dynamic flavors and textures of your meal.

Plating the Pancakes

Start by placing a couple of warm rice pancakes (dosas) on each plate. Ensure they are freshly made and have that delightful slight crispness to the edges. You can choose to fold the dosas in half, or roll them up for an inviting presentation.

Adding Sambar and Chutney

Ladle a generous portion of hot sambar next to or over the dosa. Its vivid, aromatic broth will complement the subtle taste of the rice pancakes. Spoon some fresh coconut chutney on the side, allowing for every bite to have a perfect balance of flavors. The cooling effect of the chutney contrasts beautifully with the warm sambar.

Garnishing for Enhanced Flavor

Sprinkle a pinch of fresh, chopped cilantro over the dosas for an added burst of freshness. If you enjoy a bit of crunch and an extra kick of flavor, consider topping the dosas with fried mustard seeds or curry leaves. These elements are not just garnishes but integral parts of enhancing the overall flavor profile of the dish.

Accompaniments

To round off your meal, consider serving a small bowl of mixed vegetable pickle or a lemon wedge on the side. These add a tangy punch that pairs wonderfully with the smooth, savory notes of the dosas and sambar. A hot cup of South Indian filter coffee can also be a perfect end to this delightful breakfast, aligning with the traditional flavors.

Following these serving suggestions, you’re not just serving a meal; you’re creating an experience that celebrates the rich culinary heritage of South India. Enjoy this moment of cultural and culinary pleasure with every bite.

Conclusion

Ready to dive into the delightful world of South Indian cuisine? With these simple steps you’ve learned how to whip up a traditional breakfast that’s both delicious and visually appealing. Remember the joy is in the details—whether it’s the perfect flip of a dosa or the aromatic tempering of your sambar. So gather your ingredients roll up your sleeves and prepare to impress your family or guests with a meal that’s sure to be a hit. Enjoy the process and the delicious results!

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