The only time I ever ate homemade pathiri was at my friend Ays’s place. It was during the third year of our engineering course, when “mass recruitments” were in vogue; placement agencies were conducting recruitment drives ever so often to cope with the huge demand for freshers. (The scenario somehow reminds me of a fishing net bursting with sardines, and a happy fisherman flashing a toothy grin. Strange, eh?) How lucky for us, especially since the computer science stream was considered “dull” at the time we joined (this made many people join the electronics stream, though they finally found jobs as software engineers! I am still bitter about this!).
Though we had to prepare for these drives (solving Shakuntala Devi puzzles, aptitude and quantitative tests, reading project records, finding out the apt answers to “Why do you want to join our company”, “What do you know about our organization?” etc), we mostly had fun because it involved a trip to Cochin, and stay over at some friend’s place. Dressed in our best outfits (first impression .. best impression), armed with our resumes (what did we put in them, I wonder), certificates (even those that said we won second place at the lemon and spoon race in school), photographs and everything else that was required, we would stand along with hundreds of other students, and stare in awe, admiration and respect at our to be interview panel (as if they were mini gods) while they explained about the firm and the selection process. After a few written tests, group discussion rounds and interviews, the ones who didn’t make it through did an about turn and described the interviewers with a few choice expletives, and gave vent to their anger by demanding treats from the luckier ones. 😉
One such occasion, my friends and I camped at Ays’s place. Since she is the only Muslim in our group, we often joked that she would serve us pathiri and mutton curry if we ever had to stay at her home. Sweet that she is, she remembered our jokes (as we had been secretly hoping) and got her umma to make the delicious combo for us.
Pathiri is a pancake made of rice flour which originated with the Arabs in Malabar and continues to be popular among Muslims in Kerala. It is usually paired with spicy meat or chicken, and warm coconut milk. Eid is around the corner, and this would be a perfect start to a meal during the celebrations.
- Dry roast the rice flour on a low flame for a few minutes, till it just starts changing colour.
- Add salt and oil to water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and add rice flour little by little. Do not stir the rice flour.
- After a minute, stir the rice flour and water, and take off heat. Keep covered for a minute.
- Move it to a tray or flat vessel, and knead the flour while it is still warm and forms a smooth dough. Divide the dough into lemon sized balls.
- Place a ball of dough on a plastic sheet (I used a ziplock bag), so that it is easy to remove once rolled out.
- Roll out the ball into a disc shape with a rolling pin, making it as thin as possible. Do not move the pin back and forth as you would do for a chappathi. Roll it in an outward direction only.
- If you have a press pan, you can press each ball in it. (I do not have one). Use a cutter to cut it out into a neat round shape. Repeat till all the dough is used up.
- Heat a tawa/pan on a medium fire. Cook the pathiri on one side till small bubbles appear. Turn the pathiri over, and cook the other side. The pathiri should puff up now. (Do not smear the pan with oil.)
- Warm up the coconut milk, and season with salt.
- Serve warm pathiris and coconut milk along with the curry of your choice.
Ays gives you some expert tips:
Press the dough in a press pan smeared with the tiniest amount of oil. Then roll it out with a rolling pin, so that the pathiris are super thin.
After rolling out each pathiri, dust a little rice flour if you find the pathiris are sticking to one another. Make sure to dust the rice flour off before cooking, else it will burn.
The amount of water you use depends on rice flour. If it is roasted a lot, you may need to use as much as 1.5 cups of water for each cup of rice flour.
The rice flour should be kneaded very well till it becomes soft. Else you will not be able to roll it out properly and may tear while cooking.
I am submitting this post to Ayeesha’s Anyone Can Cook Event.