With its mix of soft and crispy textures and tangy tones, tosai goes so well with the fresh flavours of chutney or the spicy tastes of curry. I love the textural variations and its slightly sour taste that whenever I go to a mamak stall, I would usually opt for tosai instead of roti canai or chapati. I've always wanted to know how to make tosai so when my friend invited me to spend a day in his mum's kitchen to learn the recipe I was ecstatic.
Aunty Buvaneswari's passion is cooking and that's why her food tastes so good.
My friend's mum, Aunty Buvaneswari Ameiyar is a jovial and friendly character. She has been rustling up home cooked Indian dishes for her family for more than 30 years and her Deepavali shindigs are so memorable that her guest list gets longer each year. A self-taught cook, Aunty Buvaneswari loves to recreate dishes she sampled at various restaurants, testing out recipes until she's satisfied with it. She believes that cooking is like art and you have to love cooking to actually get it right.
When I tried her masala tosai and coriander chutney, it was clear that she has perfected the recipes. Hints of fennel seeds, coriander and curry leaves are present in her potato filling, complimenting the sour fermented taste of the tosai. And because tosai is quite a heavy dish, she even showed me how to make coriander chutney. Made with mint and coriander leaves, the fresh flavours of the chutney helps to cut the richness of the tosai.
Potato Filling for Tosai
This is a versatile filling, you can use it to fill samosas and curry puffs as well.
Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients, although it looks quite lengthy, the method to make the filling for your tosai is quite simple. Once you've prepared your fennel seeds and potatoes, this is basically a one-wok recipe. This filling is versatile. Using mashed potatoes helps to lessen the cooking time because what you're basically doing is infusing the mash with spices and aromatics. If tosai is not your thing, use it to stuff samosas, curry puffs or even buns.
Serving : 8
Prep Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 20 mins
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
5 shallots, sliced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 inch ginger, sliced thinly
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
A handful of curry leaves
1 C of mixed veg ( green peas and corn )
3 chillies, sliced thinly
5 potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 tbs saffron powder
1 tbs curry powder
1 tbs ghee
1 C of water
A handful of fresh coriander leaves
Enough Oil for Sautéing
Salt for Seasoning
1. Firstly, dry fry fennel seeds until they start to brown. Heat oil in wok. Sauté cinnamon stick, mustard seeds and fennel seeds till fragrant.
2. Add in sliced shallots, garlic and ginger. Sauté till the slices turn slightly yellow. Mix in diced carrots.
Add potatoes when the mixture starts to boil.
3. Add curry leaves and mixed veg. Mix in 1/2 cup of water. Simmer for a few minutes, when it starts to boil add chillies and mashed potatoes.
4. Add in saffron powder and curry powder. Mix in the remaining water. Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients together. Season with salt.
Cook until mixture starts to thicken.
5. Finish it off with ghee and fresh coriander leaves. Cook for a further 5 minutes until the mixture thickens.
6. Leave it to cool for a few minutes before you use it as your tosai filling.
"Making tosai is easier than you think!"
Nothing beats home made tosai.
The batter for tosai is best prepared in advance because it does need to rest and ferment overnight. Ulunthu ( Kacang tosai ) is actually urad dhal, which are black lentils that have been split but not skinned. You can find them at Indian grocers or spice shops. Homemade tosai have a nice springy texture compared to the ones you get at the mamak stalls because of the amount of rice in the batter. The ration for tosai should always be 2:1. 2 cups of rice to 1 cup of ulunthu. The more rice you add the chewier and tougher your tosai would be. Once you get the ratio right, you can now proceed to make tosai from scratch because it's actually a pretty easy recipe.
Serving : 8
Prep Time : 10 mins ( but Ulunthu have to be soaked for 2 hours then the batter needs to be kept overnight before being cooked )
Cooking Time : 20 mins
2 Cups Uncooked Rice ( soaked in water for 2 hours )
1 Cup Ulunthu ( soaked in water for 2 hours )
1/2 Cup Leftover Cooked Rice
1 tsp salt
Enough water for blending, about 1/2 Cup
Ghee for frying
1. Once you've soaked the Ulunthu and rice separately, strain. You can leave some of the water to use for blending. Then, blend with a bit of water and salt.
2. Just before the grains are fully blended, add in cooked rice and continue blending until it turns into a slightly grainy paste. Leave the batter to rest overnight.
2. Once it has rested overnight, the batter is ready to be turned to tosai.
If you like it crispy, spread the batter as thin as you can.
3. Spoon a thin layer of ghee on a hot flat pan. Then, ladle up some of the tosai batter and spread it evenly on the pan. If you like your tosai crispy, spread the batter as thinly as you can.
Spread your filling on the tosai.
4. When tosai starts to cook, spoon more ghee on top. Spread your filing on the tosai. Fold the sides in and cook until the bottom starts to turn a golden brown.
Mint and Coriander Chutney
Aunty Buvaneswari swears by ghee. She puts it in her potato filling and she uses it to cook her tosai so the masala tosai can be quite a substantial dish which can leave you a bit overwhelmed. That's why you need a refreshing chutney to help even it out. Shredded coconut gives the chutney a nice toasty flavour while mint and coriander keeps it light and fresh. The addition of tamarind juice and vinegar adds a lovely sour hint to the chutney which assists in balancing the 'ghee-ness' of the tosai.
Serving : 8
Prep Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 10 mins
1 Cup Ulunthu
7 Shallots, sliced
1/2 inch Ginger, sliced
10 Green Chillies
I Cup Shredded Coconut
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Vinegar
1/2 C Tamarind Juice
1 Cup Mint Leaves
1 Cup Coriander Leaves
Enough oil for Sautéing
1. Heat oil in wok. Add in ulunthu, shallots, ginger and green chillies.
2. Sauté till fragrant. Add the coconut and season with salt.
3. Sauté till coconut starts to brown then add in vinegar and tamarind juice.
4. Stir in mint leaves and coriander leaves. Continue cooking for a few minutes and it's done.
5. Leave the mixture to cool, then blend to a paste.