I am standing in my own kitchen. After a month of not having access to a kitchen. Or at Pushpa's, having a kitchen but absolutely no permission to do anything except watch and/ or chop onions), I am back.
A month of bookmarking things that I want to try and jotting down notes. A month of trying things that are delicious (home made butterscotch ice cream at Guy's in the Merchant City in Glasgow) and things that are absolutely disgusting (pre-cooked poached eggs on mashed potatoes with ceps at Gordon Ramsay's 'Airport Food' in terminal 5 at Heathrow). Of trips to Marks and Spencer's Simply food and complete obsession with their crayfish and mango salad (yes please) and an even bigger obsession with their lemon curd yogurt (if somebody offers to ship me some I will gladly accept and maybe even offer payment in return), I get home and all I want is Indian food.
So much so that on a Friday afternoon in Los Angeles, still riddled with jetlag, I braved the traffic to drive across town to the Indian grocery store to pick up fenugreek seeds and white lentils. And upon walking into that tiny little corner of India in Los Angeles, I got so nostalgic, with all those smells and the colours that I was really convinced that I was back. And being so convinced that I was back I popped next door for a dosa and some coconut chutney. Of course it cost me $8 instead of $0.30, and the coconut chutney was not Pushpa's, and it wasn't drizzled with ghee like the ones I loved were. I ate it with my hands, and I wobbled my head at the waitress, who gave me a funny smile and then charged me $8 (700 Rupees) for a mediocre dosa. I held back my tears and then drove back across town.
My favourite breakfast in India was idli with coconut chutney, drizzled with ghee. I could have it every morning. Not only were the idli stodgy and delicious, the chutney was the perfect blend of flavours, and the ghee was fatty and sweet and it was all perfect together. Pushpa would watch in shock as I'd put away about 8 of them (and then retreat to my room to lie in bed groaning for an hour). They're not difficult to make, though the whole soaking and blending process is done over the course of 24 hours or so, so you need to plan in advance. Another annoying thing is that you need an idli pan to make them, and I'm trying to think of a substitute (if you can think of something let me know or post it in the comments), but the GOOD news is that you can use idli batter to make dosa. You cannot use dosa batter to make idli (Pushpa was very specific about this), but idli batter is flexible and can be used for both.
2 parts rice
1 part white lentils
pinch baking soda
In the morning, soak rice and lentils separately in about 4 times as much water. Around 7pm, drain them and blend REALLY well, until it's a paste. Mix both together, add some more water (we're talking a very wet hummus consistency), add salt, a pinch of baking soda, and a pinch of sugar, and leave out overnight.
In the morning you can either cook it like a dosa (you might need to add a tiny bit more water) or a crepe, or, if you can find some kind of steamer mold, you can make dumplings. Oil and fill the mold, and steam for 10 minutes. Remove and drizzle with ghee before serving.
The meat of 1 fresh brown coconut (alternatively use 1 cup of rehydrated coconut)
1/2 cup coriander leaf
4-5 curry leaves (I used basil as I couldn't find curry)
1 inch piece ginger
2 green chilis
small handful white lentils
1/2 cup water
Put all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Serve with idli or dosa.