Monday, October 14, 2013

U is for: Uttapam {with brown rice & pumpkin}

Once again I was stumped with one of the alphabet's more obscure letters, and once again I was saved by the delicious cuisine of India.

Remember my Xacuti I was so proud of during my last turn at "X?" My dear friend Sachi's mum, Shree, coached me through it and it turned out beautifully. I once again called on Shree to help me create my own version of Uttapam.

Uttapam is a thick, savory pancake served in India. It's also known as Indian Pizza. I've actually sampled it several times at one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco, Dosa. Appropriately, the restaurant serves a wide variety of "dosa," which is a thinner version of uttapam. Both use the same rice-based batter to create a variety of delicious combinations.

I would equate dosa more to the consistency of a crepe with savory filling, while uttapam is more of a thick pancake with the filling cooked in the batter. Both are served with sambhar or coconut chutney.



Probably the most common type of uttapam contains just onion, tomato, cilantro and chile pepper. I decided to pull from some of the current fall flavors and do one with caramelized onions, pumpkin, chile and cilantro. Fresh pumpkin would be ideal, but as with most pumpkin recipes, the canned version is much more practical.


When I was at the Indian grocery store, I saw several packages of pre-made mix to make dosa and uttapam batter. They even had some homemade pre-mixed batter in the refrigerated section. I had a moment of temptation, but eventually resisted. You know me, I wanted to be all authentic and make it from scratch, so that's what I did.


Traditional dosa/uttapam batter calls for a combination of basmati and parboiled (idly) rice, along with white lentils (hulled, split urad dal). I looked at a lot of recipes, and some used a 3:1 rice to lentil ratio, others used 2:1. I loosely followed this version, which uses 2:1. Also, this generally calls for white rice, but since I'm trying to only stick to whole grains these days, I decided to try making it with brown basmati rice. Separately rinse and sort the rice and lentils and cover them in water. Allow them to soak for 3-4 hours, along with 1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds (split between the two soaking dishes).


Drain off the water (it's ok if some of it remains) and pour into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, gradually adding a little water until it forms a thick batter. Having never made this and not really knowing what consistency to go for, I added water until it looked like thick pancake batter.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in baking soda and sugar. Season with salt. Most recipes didn't tell you how much salt to use, so I assume this is a matter of personal preference (like most dishes requiring salt). I added little by little, and tasted the batter until it was where I wanted it to be. (I'm guessing it was between 1-2 teaspoons). Cover and allow to ferment at room temperature for 12-15 hours.


To caramelize the onions, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook on low to medium heat until brown and caramelized, about 20-25 minutes.


When you're ready to make your uttapam, stir about 1/2 cup of pumpkin into the batter.


Heat a griddle or non-stick pan over medium heat and add a little oil or ghee. Pour in about 1/2 cup of the batter and spread with back of a spoon until you have a thick, even circle.


Sprinkle the surface with caramelized onions, chile and cilantro. Sprinkle some of the oil or ghee on and around the pancake. Cook over low heat until small bubbles appear on the surface, about five minutes.


Flip and continue cooking until crisp and golden. See? Just like a pancake!


Since it's known as Indian Pizza, I decided to cut it into little wedges for easier eating and dipping. Serve hot with sambhar and/or coconut chutney. It turned out delicious! (Full disclosure, I cheated and bought the pre-made sambhar. :) So it was *mostly* authentic). Thanks again to Sachi and Shree, and enjoy!

Brown Rice & Pumpkin Uttapam

by Jaymee Sire
Prep Time: 15 hours
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Keywords: saute appetizer snack brown rice onion pumpkin lentils Indian

Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup white lentils (hulled, split urad dal)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • oil or ghee
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 green chile, sliced/chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • sambhar or coconut chutney, for dipping
Instructions
  1. Separately rinse and sort the rice and lentils in several changes of water and cover them with water. Allow them to soak for 3-4 hours, along with 1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds (split between the two soaking dishes).
  2. Drain off the water (it's ok if some of it remains) and pour into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, gradually adding a little water until it forms a thick batter.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and stir in baking soda and sugar. Season with salt, to taste Cover and allow to ferment at room temperature for 12-15 hours.
  4. To caramelize the onions, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook on low to medium heat until brown and caramelized, about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Stir about 1/2 cup of pumpkin into the batter. Heat a griddle or non-stick pan over medium heat and add a little oil or ghee. Pour in about 1/2 cup of the batter and spread with back of a spoon until you have a thick, even circle.
  6. Sprinkle the surface with caramelized onions, chile and cilantro. Sprinkle some of the oil or ghee on and around the pancake. Cook over low heat until small bubbles appear on the surface, about five minutes.
  7. Flip and continue cooking until crisp and golden. Garnish with more cilantro and serve hot with sambhar and/or coconut chutney.
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2 comments:

  1. How many servings do you get from the recipe?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooops! Forgot to include that. It makes about 5-6 pancakes, depending on how big you make them.

      Delete

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