Dosai is what would come to mind when I say tiffin varieties in Tamil cuisine. The word tiffin refers to having a light meal instead of a full fledged three course heavy lunch. To quote wikipedia - " tiffin is derived from "tiffing", an English colloquial term meaning to take a little drink" . Basically anything like idly , dosai , chapathi - light meals akin, to say a sandwich, is a tiffin item in Indian English.
Dosai is made using a batter made of rice and lentils. We use a utensil thats something like a skillet. Its traditionally made of iron though we call it a dosakkal (literally translates to dosa stone). A few years ago, i got quite a big one when I visited my home city of Chennai. This one as per the seller's instructions had to be soaked in starch water got from washing rice for two to three days to kind of get it ready for the stove. I am ignorant of the science behind it, though.
A typical Sunday evening in my kitchen would unfold like this. The skillet is placed on the stove, and then a splash of water on it to check if its hot enough, gives out a sizzling noise. A drop of oil is smeared for some lubrication. A ladel or two of batter is added and spread in circles into a dosa. Some oil is added along the border.
The amount of oil added depends on which side of the tug of war you are on - taste/crispiness or health. There are times if the skillet is too hot and the batter sticks to it , refusing to budge.. thats another tug of war any dosa maker would be familiar with!
Different types of ingredients like semolina (rava) , millet flour , rice flour , wheat flour or for that matter ground oatmeal can be mixed with water , some buttermilk , green chillies , corriander etc to make a batter and then made into crispy instant dosas. This version we can experiment with as we please .
A permanent occupant of my kitchen shelf is what we call at home as the milagai podi - dosai chilli powder. A mix of lentils and red chillies are roasted in a bit of oil and then ground to a course powder. Whenever we make dosas, all we need is this powder mixed with some oil as an accompaniment.
Food from other lands:
Doughnut. For some time, the term had me imagining some distant cousin of almonds and cashews. Later i came to know of this sweet snack. The sight of the donuts with different dressings on the rack is so captivating, is it not ?
Food for thought :
This is actually a funny quote that I remembered.
Its from a Tamil movie I saw long back and it goes.
Dilhi kku raaja naalum patti sollai thattaadha
Raaja as most may know means king.
Patti - grandmother
Sollai - (of) words
Thattaatha - dont disobey or disregard
Dilhi - Delhi
Even if you are the king of Delhi , pay heed your grandmother's words. Ha ha ... Its a comedy movie but on serious thought , once we become adults we think we know it all. But we are all learning , always , every step we take in our lives. We need to remember that the seniors or elderly folks have a lifetime of experience. More oft than not, they have simple solutions to the most baffling of our problems!