Monday, November 12, 2007

Down Home Breakfasts

There are many things I love about Karnataka food - the spices, the freshness, the fact that most of the food is not heavy - but what I enjoy most of all is the breakfasts. Give me a good Karnataka breakfast and the rest of the day goes incredibly well. The uppittu, the sajjige, avalakki, the set dose...but what really tantalizes my palate and imagination is akki roti. I don't know why but since childhood, this has been a particular favourite of mine.

We used to typically get this for breakfast when visiting family in Mysore. Somehow mom rarely made this in Delhi when we were kids. Later on, after I started working and mornings were less frantic, she used to make this every once in a while, especially when dad had got fresh green beans from Bangalore, and I always loved it. It got into my repertoire when I got married, particularly because rice flour was easily available at the grocery store in Fontainebleau.

Akki rotti is best had crisp, with a yummy coconut chutney or Ranjaka as an accompaniment. We've carted these handy eats with us on a very long driving holiday to Switzerland, and they came in very handy on stretches where we found no veg food.

2 cups rice flour
Handful freshly grated coconut
Handful chopped coriander leaves
2-3 green chillies if liked
2 tsp jeera (cumin) seeds
1 red onion, chopped finely
Salt to taste

Mix the ingredients together with a little water to make the dough. Be conservative while adding the water, because this flour soaks it up pretty fast so it's all too easy to end up with a sticky, slushy mess ( and I speak from experience!)

Keep a wide bowl full of water handy on the side.

Take a fistful of dough and form it into a ball. Put the ball of dough in the middle of the frying pan, and using your fingers, press the dough out towards the corners of the pan.

Try and get the roti as thin as possible so it turns out crisp. Warning - your fingers will start to hurt a little bit, but all in a good cause! (The rice flour is too brittle to lend itself to rolling, hence the need to press them out). Occasionally dip your fingers in the bowl of water to keep the dough from sticking to them.

Once the dough has spread out, make 3 holes with the tip of your finger in the middle of the roti. Put the pan onto a hot stove and cover it with a lid that seals it off tightly. Cook under cover for about 2-3 minutes, and then remove the cover. The roti should be looking steam-cooked by now.

Dribble a few drops of the oil into each of the three holes, and taking a bit more oil in a teaspoon, run the teaspoon around the outer edges of the roti. Cook on a medium-high flame, turning over occasionally, until the back is nicely browned, and there are a few brown patches on the front.

Serve hot with traditional Karnataka coconut chutney. You can add fresh, lightly steamed green beans to the dough for an even more traditional touch.

Now the chutney too is a work of art, in my opinion. I hate the typical coconut chutney served at restaurants, particularly outside the south. They basically consust of ground up coconut and a bit of salt.

Homemade chutney - now that's the real thing, with taste and zing. It's so delicious I could eat a bowlful by itself, and it's the icing on the rather bland cake of idli or dosa. Neither idli nor dosa have the same savour when served without this accompaniment.

1 fresh coconut, grated
1 lime-sized tamarind bit soaked in hot water
1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped
3-4 green chillies
Handful coriander leaves, chopped roughly
Handful Roast chana, peeled ( bhuna hua chana)
Salt to taste

Squeeze the tamarind into the hot water so all the tart juice runs out. Strain the tamarind juice into your blender. Add the rest of the ingredients, and half cup water. Grind finely, adding a little more water as and when needed. Top with the Garnish, and serve with idli, dosa, akki roti, uppittu, plain chapatti and whatever else takes your fancy!

1 tbsp oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal( white)
1 red dried chilly
Handful curry leaves, washed and dried
Pinch heeng ( asafoetida)

We had akki roti with this wonderful chutney made by dad for breakfast on Saturday. The weather was lovely - warm but with a cool breeze, so we ate out on our balcony, which has mediterranean-style stucco white walls and orange flooring. The balcony looks out into a jacaranda tree, and beyond that a lawn with frangipani trees, so it was the perfect place to enjoy a lazy breakfast. We wound up with traditional filter-kaapi supplied by dad again ( we don't go for coffee much at our place) while watching the two kiddos run around and play - Gar firdaus bar rue zameen ast, hameen ast, wa hameen ast, to paraphrase Babur!


Latha said...


Glad to know you live in Fontainebleau! We lived there 5 yrs back for about 1.5 yrs (my husband was a student at INSEAD). A beautiful town, isn't it! Infact we came this May for our reunion... I was such a bad cook in those days and am in awe that you make akki roti from local rice flour:)

bird's eye view said...

Hi Latha,

We're back in india now, but my husband and I were at INSEAD too, in 2001 - it sounds like we must have overlapped a bit? We missed our reunion last year because my second kiddo was due around reunion time.

Asha said...

Akki rotti loks delicious! We coffee planter families make a very different kind of akki rottis with cooked rice and flour!:))

bird's eye view said...


Do blog about your version! All akki rotis are yummy.

Latha said...


That's wonderful to meet a fellow alumni thro' blog world! INSEAD days were the best experience i enjoyed the most. My husband joined in Sept 2001... may be we did meet... or you just had left when we came in. great to get in touch with you...

bird's eye view said...


we probably did cross paths in Fonty - we were there till Dec 01 - you must have been part of india week? Where are you guys based now?

Latha said...

Yes I was very much part of India week (sang along with Vish). We live in Munich now. After INSEAD we stayed back in campus (you know those bad times after sept 11) until May 02 and then moved to Dusseldorf. It's been just 3 months in Munich. May be if I know your name, I can recognise... you must have been in Sonal's batch:)

bird's eye view said...

Hi Latha,

I'm priyadarshini narendra - ring any bells? I was in Vish's batch.

Let's take this conversation off from blogosphere into email?

Vidya said...

This is a nice recipe it would taste great with a cup of hot coffee :-) , I will surely give it a try some time.
I also found some interesting recipes at , may be you all can visit it.