Milagu Jeera Adai & Avial (Pepper, Cumin & Lentil Pancakes with Mixed Veggies in coconut gravy)
A Traditional South Indian Breakfast
Back from our vacations last month, I am making full use of the fresh Black pepper that I purchased at the spice shop in Coorg. My last blog post, Paneer Kali Mirch celebrated the ingredient “black pepper” in its entirety and in this recipe too, I have tried to bring out the flavours of Pepper along with cumin seeds and shared a recipe from my part of the world, my roots – Kerala.
Paneer Kali Mirch was from the North Indian cuisine so I thought of making a South Indian dish and when I had just thought of Rasam, the idea of doing a traditional breakfast struck me and I combined the Adai with Avial.
Both Adai and Avial are extremely healthy, filling, low on oil and ticks all the boxes in the health and nutrition department. Including Milagu (Black Pepper) and Jeeragam (Jeera or Cumin seeds) especially enables digestion and also keeps your chest congestions in check during winters. In our regular adai batter, we have more of chana dal (Bengal gram dal) that tends to be slightly heavy in digestion, so I have reduced the quantity of the same in this recipe and given more importance to the addition of Split Black Gram (Urad Dal) or Black Lentils. Also, these don’t require fermentation like the dosa or idli batter. So pretty much easy to make after the soaking and grinding process is done.
In the South Indian cuisine, urad dal features prominently right from our breakfast staples of idlis and dosas (they use the skinless urad dal) and it also an important part of our tadkas that give the chutneys or the poriyals (stir fries) the slight bite. As far as the black gram goes, the most delicious dal called “Ma ki Dal” from the North Indian Cuisine is made using Black Lentils. Slow cooked with choicest of spices with desi ghee or clarified butter, this dish is the best for winters along with plain parathas or a bowl of steamed basmati rice.
There are many health benefits of including Urad dal as part of your diet. It is especially beneficial to women as it is a powerhouse of iron and folic acid along with calcium which is normally the main cause of deficiency among woman. Like all dals or lentils, this too is loaded with proteins and a good way to consume your breakfast with the inclusion of these lentils. We all know that protein is essential to lose weight and keep us full. Urad dal is also used for skin (anti ageing benefits) as part of DIY scrubs. Cost effective and ingredients in pantry that make your skin glow.
Now that we know the health benefits of Urad dal, we move to the accompaniment, Avial. One of the key vegetable options to cook during festivals like Vishu or Onam or even at weddings, this has a very special place in heart. My Ma made one of the best Avials and truly this is one of those vegetables that you wouldn’t mind an extra portion of considering these days, inclusion of coconut is really being promoted for its health benefits.
For the Aviyal, I have added vegetables like Snake Gourd (Known as Padwal in Maharashtra), Suran / Yam or Jimikand, Ash Gourd (Winter Melon) or Poosanikai in Tamil, Pumpkin (Mathanga in Tamil) and Plantain (Raw Bananas). However, you can also include vegetables like French beans, Gavar or Cluster beans, Broadbeans / Papdis or Avarrakai etc but inclusion of ash gourd and pumpkin is a must.
A Healthy Breakfast, as encouraged by nutritionists all over, should satisfy all the key components of nutrition (1) Protein (2)Carbohydrates (3)essential fats (4) Vitamins and Minerals. If you take the combination of Adai and Avial, it clearly ticks all the boxes. A variety of vegetables, less time to cook, low on oil, high on fibre makes it an excellent choice of food to consume. Let us look at the recipe below and try making this scrumptious breakfast at home.
If you are looking to make some chutneys as accompaniments to the Adai, then you may be interested to go through the following recipes on the blog
Recipe for Milagu Jeera Adai & Avial
For Making the Adai
Soaking Time 3 hours + Grinding Time – 10 minutes
Preparation Time – 20 mins
Makes approx. 10 to 12 small adais
- Split Black Gram (Kali Urad Dal) – 1 cup
- Rice – 1 cup
- Chana Dal – ¼ cup
- Hing – a generous pinch
- Red chillies – 5 nos.
- Black Pepper or Kali Mirch – 3 tblsp coarsely ground
- Jeera or Cumin seeds – 1.5 tblsp coarsely ground
- Salt as per taste
- Water as required to grind the batter and adjust the batter consistency
- Curry leaves few sprigs
- Few tblsps of sesame oil or ghee to cook the adais
- Wash and soak the rice and dals together along with red chillies for atleast 2 to 3 hours and then grind them into a smooth paste by adding water.
- Add the coarsely ground black pepper powder and cumin powder, salt as required, hing, curry leaves and mix the batter well.
- Heat and grease a tava or griddle. Pour a ladle of the batter and spread it evenly. Drizzle with sesame oil or ghee.
- Let it cook completely before flipping and turning on the other side and cooking for few seconds.
- Once cooked, remove from griddle, serve hot with avial or with some Molagapodi or Gur (Jaggery) (As shown in the pic)
- This batter doesn’t need fermentation and can be made immediately once grinding is complete.
- To make it more interesting, you can add finely chopped or shavings of coconut or add some finely chopped onions and green chillies too in the adai batter.
- You can adjust the quantity of chillies, black pepper and cumin as per your taste.
- Makes a wholesome snack for kids and adults.
For Making the Aviyal
Prep Time – 15 mins
Cook Time – 20 mins
Makes 4 servings
- Ash Gourd – 150 gms skin peeled and cut into thick slices
- Pumpkin – 150 gms skin peeled and cut into thick slices
- Plantain – 1 nos. skin peeled and cut into thick slices
- Snake gourd – Deseed and cut into thick slices
- Suran or Jimikand – 150 gms skin peeled and cut into thick slices
- Coconut Grated or cut into pieces – ½ a shell
- Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp
- Green chillies – 2 nos.
- Yoghurt – 2 tblsps
- Salt as per taste
- Few sprigs of curry leaves
- Coconut oil – 1 tsp
- In a vessel (suitable for pressure cooking), add all the above washed and chopped vegetables along with turmeric powder and salt. Drain excess water and close the vessel with the lid.
- Pressure cook for atleast 3 whistles. The vegetables should be soft but shouldn’t turn all mushy.
- In the meanwhile, grate the coconut or in my case, I resort to cutting pieces and then grind them along with some green chillies. Don’t add water. It should be a dry masala mix.
- Once the cooking is done and the pressure is released, put the cooked vegetables in a heavy bottom pan on medium heat. Add few sprigs of curry leaves and then the coconut and the green chilli mixture. Stir well, check for the salt and then switch off the flame.
- Drizzle the coconut oil and close it with a lid until serving. Serve it piping hot with adais or with phulkas or rice dishes too. Tastes best with either Sambar or Rasam from the South Indian cuisine.
Recipe Notes –
- This is a no-onion and no-garlic dish as done by Palakkad Iyers.
- Some also include cumin seeds while grinding the coconut and chilli mixture. Each house has its own variation, this is mine.
- You need not pressure cook and choose to cook the veggies over direct flame in a kadhai or heavy bottom pan. Ensure you don’t add too much water or let the vegetables overcook.
- You can make a thicker version of Avial too called “Getti Aviyal” – Getti translated as tight in Tamil. Its just that you don’t add water during cooking or drain the excess water after cooking and make it like a dry vegetable.
- However, I prefer a little gravy / sauce like version of Avial that can easily be accompanied with adai or even dosas or phulkas.
- Addition of half a coconut is very important as it lends the thickness and the taste to the dish.
- There is no tadka or tempering for this dish. Just a drizzle of coconut oil for the aroma and flavor.
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