It is a common tendency of people here that they pamper their guests whom they respect the most with sumptuous feasts to express their special affinity towards them. So the way food offered to guests is obviously regarded as a scale to measure their closeness. During my childhood days I often found people getting offended during family functions, particularly weddings, as they felt humiliated at the banquet hall (pandhi) which incidentally became the starting point (place) of most of the family feuds. Nowadays to avoid such unpleasant situations, people hire hosts/ hostesses who give an artificial smile at every guest, treat them all with due respect, and eventually ensure the equality.
Thiruvalluvar, a Tamil sage, wrote about the importance of hospitality 2000 years ago in Thirukkural, the greatest compilation of couplets advocating moral values, which is relevant even today, and I quote one of his couplets as above. He compared the heart of guests with anicham flower (Scarlet Pimpernel) as the guest gets humiliated just like the wildflower closes up in bad weather.
Nevertheless, we all enjoy the pampering at every stage of our life showered by our relatives when we visit them. Women in our family usually overindulge us by saying “innum konjam” (meaning little/few more) while serving us their specialty dishes. Bottle gourd adai (savory pancakes) is one of my aunts’ signature dish, she never lets us leave her home without indulging in her soft spicy sorakkai adai served with creamy tangy avial.
Bottle gourd is one of the most commonly available vegetables here and every Siddha/ Ayurveda practitioner praises these humble gourds to the skies for their excellent detoxification properties. Bottle gourds may be used for making juice, or added into a bowl of salad, or used for making thayir pachadi, kootu, sabzi, curry, etc.
Bottle gourd is also added into adai batter for making it soft & spongy. Generally I blitz all the ingredients in one shot to prepare my batter, but my aunt gradually adds every ingredient into the wet grinder at different stages to get the perfect texture both for crispy adai & also for soft adai. Now I followed my aunt’s recipe to a T, and prepared bottle gourd adai as below:
|Idli rice (parboiled rice)||1 cup (approx. 200 grams)|
|Bengal gram (chickpeas)||1/2 cup|
|Black gram||1/4 cup|
|Diced bottle gourd||as desired|
|Shallots (sambar vengayam)||200 grams|
|Chopped coriander leaves||as desired|
|Chopped coconut||as desired|
|Curry leaves||a few sprigs|
|Turmeric powder||1 tap|
|Asafoetida powder||1/4 tsp|
|Coconut oil for cooking adai|
- Wash and soak rice & Bengal gram together for 3 hours.
- Wash & soak black grams separately for 1 hour.
- Turn on the wet grinder and add torn red chillies & chopped ginger into it.
- Add diced bottle gourd and then add soaked rice & Bengal gram little by little enabling to smash the bottle gourd, ginger & red chillies & grind them along with rice.
- Now add all the remaining rice & Bengal gram and let the grinder run for few minutes (5-7 min).
- Finally add the soaked black gram into the grinder.
- Turn off the wet grinder within 3-4 minutes before the batter becomes smooth.
- Transfer the batter to a canister.
- Add chopped shallots, coconut, coriander leaves, curry leaves, turmeric powder, asafoetida powder & salt into the batter and mix well.
- Pour the water used for rinsing drum into the batter to get the desired consistency.
- Now heat a cast iron griddle in medium flame and prepare adai as shown below.
- Serve hot sorakkai adai with butter, avial & karuppatti (palm jaggery) or vellam (cane jaggery).
- Refrigerate the remaining batter immediately after use (avoiding the fermentation to take place) for 24-36 hours.
- If we add large quantity of bottle gourd, adai becomes too soft that it gets stuck to the griddle. I used about one-third of bottle gourd for 200 grams of rice.
- If we grind soaked black gram along with rice, it changes the texture of adai, so my aunt adds them only at the end as coarsely ground black gram lends a delicious texture to adai. You can notice small chunky black gram in the adai shown below.
- Generally adai goes well with sour avial and mor-kuzhambu, so when we make avial for adai we used to add sour curd lavishly to make it tangy.