When I was in the first year of degree college in Mumbai, there opened this Udipi restaurant in Matunga called Shri Sundars. Matunga and King’s Circle in Central Mumbai is filled with Udipi joints, some of them which have been there for decades, so a new one opening in that area was just another addition to the clutter. But as we discovered during the three years we frequented it (and I use this term loosely, “lived there” would be more like it!), the restaurant came up with dishes which were quite unusual in terms of Udipi restaurants then which were almost identical in terms of their menu and appearance. Except for Ananda Bhavan idlis…mmm….but that’s another story.
Spring Roll dosa, Chowmein Dosa and some other really wacky sounding dishes filled the menu card of Sundars (we dropped the Shri almost instantly!). Of course there was the usual idli, sambar, medu wada, mysore masala dosa which were really good, but what attracted us at first were these unusual items. Soon we were regulars there - the place was clean, the waiters soon knew us by sight (and hardly got any tips) and the prices didn’t hurt our bare pockets and purses.
And what one of our gang of 8 would definitely end up ordering, was the Masala Uttapam – something I loved and had never tasted till then. I still remember that dish – uttapams stuffed with a delicious potato masala and always, always topped with a juicy slice of tomato embedded right in the centre. I recreated this dish from memory, not sure if this is what they do since it wasn’t as brown and the masala wasn’t exactly stuffed, but it tasted just right to me.
I guess nostalgia wears rose coloured glasses but this place, with all its memories of the fun times I had with my friends, holds a special place in my heart. P & G, I will always remember you guys, ordering one paper roast dosa since that’s all the pocket money you had (or maybe because you were just plain cheapskates!) and then each would begin eating from one end, so whoever ate faster would get more of the dosa! This recipe is for you and the rest of our gang.
Dosa batter – 400ml (preferably a day old or a little sour)
1 cup rice, 1/3rd cup urad dal –soak rice and dal together in water with a tsp of fenugreek seeds for about 5-6 hours. Drain the water and keep aside, grind in a mixie or grinder till you get a smooth batter. Add the drained water little by little and as much as is needed. The batter finally should be smooth and neither too thick and nor too thin. Transfer to a large vessel with space for it to double after fermentation, add1/2 tsp salt and mix well. Keep overnight and by morning it should have risen to the top.
Boiled potatoes – 4, peeled and mashed
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Onions – 2 chopped fine
Green chillies – 3 chopped
Mustard – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 6-8 leaves
Chana dal – 1 tbsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp for the potato masala and more for making the uttapams
Coriander – 1/2 cup chopped
1. Heat 2 tsp oil in a kadai and add mustard, when it splutters add the chana dal and urad dal and stir for 2 minutes till golden. Add the curry leaves and green chillies and sauté for 2 minutes, then add onions and fry till transparent.
2. Add the turmeric powder, salt and mashed potatoes and fry for another 4-5 minutes, add chopped coriander and take off flame. Cool.
3. Keep the dosa batter ready , heat a non stick tava till just warm, smear some oil on it and then pour a ladleful of dosa batter on it; spread the batter from inside to outside but not too thinly. It should be thicker than what one would do for a dosa.
4. Immediately take a big spoon of the potato masala and carefully spoon it onto the still uncooked uttapam in a smaller circle, taking care not to disturb the batter. Press down with a spatula till well embedded in the batter. All this should be done on a low flame.
5. Increase the flame to medium high and circle the uttapam with about a ½ a tsp of oil. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes till the underside is golden brown and then flip over with a spatula and press down. Cook for another minute and then remove from tava.
6. Serve hot with coconut chutney and sambar.