Early in my marriage, I spent some time with my mother in law in Chennai, and she made thavalai adai one day for tiffin. Having spent all my years till then in various cities in North India, I had never even heard of this delicacy. One bite of this and I was hooked. A favourite tiffin of many a Tamilian, it has now gone out of vogue, and many youngsters have not even heard of this.
There are different ways of making this and there are many variations in the types and proportions of the ingredients too. Most of these traditional recipes have been handed down from generation to generation and so they become family recipes. I am sharing my mother in law’s recipe here.
Rice (any variety) – 1 cup – I used hand pounded brown rice
Grated coconut – 1/2 cup (optional)
Chana dal – 1/2 cup
Tuvar dal – 1/2 cup
Whole pepper – 1 tsp
Dried red chillies – 3-4
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 10
Asafoetida – a pinch
Yogurt – 1 cup
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Coconut oil for frying the adais
Grind the rice, dals, pepper, red chillies and cumin seeds into a coarse powder. Temper the curry leaves and asafoetida in the oil and ghee and add to powder. Add the salt and yogurt and mix well. If you are using grated coconut make sure you grind it with some water before adding to the dough. Add water as needed to make a runny dough and leave it aside for 2 hours. After 2 hours you may need to add more water so that you get an idli dough like consistency (thick but you should be able to pour it out with a ladle)
Using a flat bottomed thick kadai put a tsp of coconut oil and when hot put in a ladle of the dough. Be careful that it doesn’t spread too much. With a spatula make a small hole in the middle and add some coconut oil around the adai and in the centre hole. Keeping covered on a low flame let it become crisp on the bottom. Carefully flip and allow the other side to become crisp too. As it is fairly thick you would need to ensure that the adai is cooked well in the middle. Remove carefully and serve with any chutney of your choice. Here I have made ridge gourd chutney.