The perfect tiffin

What good is it to go out to breakfast if they run out of upma and can’t make you an MLA peserratu, I say! This happened today. The Hero and I went out to breakfast and I hoped to get myself an MLA pesarattu but alas!

(This might not be the best image of a pesarattu but it will have to do.)

The perfect pesarattu is neither crisp nor soft. You need to blend just the right amount of moong and rice to get a batter that is not too fluffy. So forget about using the large grinder for the job. Add a dash of cumin, a clove of garlic, and a hint of ginger and green chilli to the batter.

Use a low flame. Patience is the key.  Slice the onion really fine. The beauty of MLA pesarattu is in the stuffings. Sprinkle finely chopped ginger and green chillies and maybe some whole cumin. If you cook it slowly enough you won’t have to flip it and the onions will get that perfect pink texture where they are just beginning to lose their raw taste. The chillies likewise, will be subtly milder but not so mild as to lose their punch.

If you cook a peserattu too slowly, it will absorb too much oil and be an unholy mess. If you spread the batter too thick, you will have to flip the damn thing over and will end up with fried onions. If you spread the batter too thin, you will end up with a crunchy attu that doesn’t have much character and makes picking up stuffings and accompaniments a pain. Too much rice in the batter will also lead to this sort of texture. Too little rice, and the thing will not hold together. Tricky, eh?

You can sometimes stuff a pesarattu with upma (also known as upma-pesarattu or MLA pesarattu). This upma is slightly different from what you eat for breakfast by itself (the perfect upma is another story altogether. One to be told if this pesarattu tale is well received) The upma should be slightly crumbly and not runny or soggy. The trick to achieving this is to use the right amount of water. Typically, a 2:1 water-rava ratio. The tempering should not use any of the crunchy ingredients – chana dal and urad dal. A dash of ghee is strongly recommended.

NEVER serve pesarattu with sambar. That’s a cardinal sin. I don’t know where I read that one but anyway, The Goddess saying so makes it so 😛 Instead, serve it with ginger chutney. Add a dash of jaggery to the chutney to complement the fieriness of the pesarattu. The chutney will also serve to highlight the ginger in the pesarattu batter itself. You could also try coconut chutney but The Goddess is not a fan (I’m liking this first person reference to myself. Perhaps because I keep talking the same way to Chotu Singh. You know, “Amma will change your diaper now” kind of statements…)

So, to summarize, here’s what I’m looking for. A pesarattu that’s neither too crisp nor too soft. Stuffed with finely chopped onion and maybe a dash of grated carrot. Maybe some ginger, chillies, and a dollop of upma. Served hot and accompanied by ginger chutney. Now that’s a perfect tiffin. Perfection in pesarattu making is as elusive as singing the perfect Yaman/Kalyani. The Hero tries to achieve the former and I the latter…

ps: I will make up for yesterday’s missing post tomorrow. A visit from The Hero and a chance to catch up on sleep should be excuse enough to earn me forgiveness, no?

2 Replies to “The perfect tiffin”

Leave a Reply