my first introduction to paniyarams were when a friend would get these in her tiffin box sprinkled with idli podi (dry idli chutney powder). one bite and i was hooked.
they were so much like idlis and unlike idlis for me. soft like idlis from within but crisp from out. thats what i like about paniyarams. paniyarams are a south indian tiffin or breakfast snack… and they are healthy like most south indian food – idli, poha dosa, masala dosa, uttapam, upma.
to my north indian & western readers, i will try to explain. paniyarams are dumplings made from idli batter. these can be made plain, spiced or sweet. as i mentioned above, they are crisp from out and soft from within. they are vegan and gluten free as well.
these are made in a special utensil or cookware called paniyaram chatti which have moulds in it. in the market one gets both non stick as well metal versions.
you will see in the pics below, the paniyaram chatti i use at home. i have a traditional one and i got it from an antique shop in goa. its very heavy and the batter does not stick at all in this one. i have made paniyarams many times in this traditional chatti.
masala paniyaram is very easy to make, if you leftover idli batter at home. i just add the onions, spices etc in the batter and make the paniyarams with the left over idli batter. also there are versions where the spices are tempered and then added to the idli batter.
from the leftover batter i had, i made these masala paniyaram as well as sweet paniyarams. given a choice, i liked the sweet paniyarams more than the masala ones.
so shall we begin the step by step recipe of masala paniyaram.
1: add the chopped onions, green chilies, grated coconut, spices, herbs everything to the idli batter.
2: mix well.
3: heat the paniyaram chatti. add a few drops of oil or 1 tsp of oil if you prefer in each mould.
4: pour the spiced idli batter in the moulds upto 3/4 of the mould.
5: allow to cook for a few minutes. turn carefully with a wooden skewer or spoon and let the other side cook.
6: you can flip them once or twice more so that they get cooked evenly. you can also add some more oil if required. when the paniyarams are golden from all sides, remove in a casserole… so that they stay warm. cook in batches this way.
recipe details of masala paniyaram below:
- 2 cups idli batter
- 1 medium size onion, finely chopped or minced
- 1 or 2 green chilies, finely chopped
- ½ inch ginger, finely chopped or grated
- a pinch of asafoetida (optional)
- ½ tsp crushed black pepper (optional)
- ¼ tsp red chili powder
- 2 tbsp chopped curry leaves
- ½ cup grated coconut
- salt if required
- mix all the ingredients in the idli batter.
- add salt if the idli batter does not have salt previously added to it.
- stir well.
- heat the paniyaram chatti.
- add a few drops of oil.
- pour spoonful of the batter ¾ of the paniyaram mould.
- allow the batter to cook for 2-3 minutes on a low or medium flame.
- turn each paniyaram with the help of a wooden skewer or spoon.
- now allow the other side to get cooked and crisp.
- turn once or twice for uniform cooking.
- remove and keep in a casserole so that they stay warm.
- these are also good as tiffin box snack or picnic snack.
- serve with coconut chutney or sambar.