Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Kadapa, a great side-dish for idlis

Idlis and dosas are quite neutral in taste, and rely a lot on the side-dish to make them attractive. While they can be had with almost any moderately spicy or spicy accompaniment, including sambhar, chutneys, gojjus and pickles, kadapa is one side-dish that many, especially from the Tanjore district, would die for!

I've heard that in Kumbakonam, especially, people line up outside the hotels on the days that kadapa is served with idli! I believe famous mess-style hotels serve kadapa only on one or two days a week, as it is considered a special item. Veteran foodies would know the fixed days on which kadapa is served in the various hotels.
  1. Soak coconut, khus-khus (poppy seeds), saunf (fennel seeds), green chillies, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves in a little water, for around 10 minutes, and grind to a smooth paste.
  2. Cook some moong dal and keep it aside. You can vary the quantity of dal depending on how thick you like your side-dish. Typically, it should a little thinner than sambhar.
  3. Cook one or two small potatoes, peel, crumble and keep aside.
  4. In a vessel, season mustard seeds, gram dal, asafoetida, green chillies and ginger.
  5. Add chopped onions (shallots give a better flavour and aroma) and tomatoes and saute for a while.
  6. Add the masala paste and saute for a few seconds (do not saute for too long).
  7. Add a cup of water along with the boiled potatoes and salt and boil for a few minutes till the aroma pervades the whole room!
  8. Pour in the cooked moong dal and boil for a minute or two.
  9. Garnish with loads of coriander and curry leaves.
  10. Serve hot.


  • If you do not have much time, you can replace the paste with one or two spoons of garam masala and half a spoon of coriander powder. It will be close to the original flavour, but the coconut texture will be missing.
  • If you do not have time even to cook the moong dal, you can use a paste of besan (gram flour) and water. It will thicken and give the same consistency that dal gives.
  • While the original version does not have even tomatoes, more modern versions do use tomatoes to give a slightly tangy flavour. If you want it even more tangy, you can use tamarind water. Add the tamarind water, salt and potatoes after sauteeing the onions and tomatoes, and add the ground paste after the raw smell of tamarind goes.
  • You can make a healthier version by adding other vegetables like beans and carrots.

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