In April of 2022, we took a long, and long awaited vacation that included a few days in the Maldives. That destination was over my birthday, which made everything extra special. Our hotel was the Four Seasons Maldives located on the Baa atoll. To simply say our stay there was exquisite is an understatement; everything about the resort and staff was perfect.
Of course the food was spectacular. If I showed all of the photos of what I ate during our visit the post would be too long, but I did enjoy a lot of grilled lobsters, fish, octopus, salmon poke and ceviche, plus Indian specialties. Heavenly.
On our first morning, my actual birthday, we went to a beautiful breakfast spot with an incredible view. As you can see, the staff wanted me to have a fabulous birthday! So this was our table, and the below right photo shows only part of the breakfast buffet.
At the buffet I was intrigued by a pancake called Uthappam, and asked for one, served with an egg. Turns out it’s a South Indian specialty, also spelled Uttapam, served with sambar and two coconut chutneys.
I couldn’t wait to make these once home, so I started researching. It’s not as straight forward as I assumed, which is probably why the pancake was so darn good. A dosa batter is essential to make these pancakes. Here is an example of a dosa batter from the food blog Food Viva, which involves soaking, cooking, grinding, plus a fermentation step.
Instead, I went to my local deli Amazon, and purchased a mix, which was an acceptable option according to the recipe I chose to use for my Uthappam here on Food Viva.
I placed all of the chopped veggies on paper towels to absorb liquid. This was especially important, I felt, for the tomatoes.
Maybe one day I’ll try the making real dosa batter, but the mix was good, and you could taste the fermentation tang.
Uthappam, or Uttapam
2 cups Dosa Batter (homemade or readymade)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (approx. 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped tomato
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped (I used jalapeños)
Oil for shallow frying
Salt to taste
Prepare the batter at home by following this recipe or buy the readymade batter from the grocery store. Add salt (if not added before fermenting the batter) and water (if needed) in batter; mix well.
I prepared the mix according to the recipe on the package, I think. There was a bit of a translation issue. I had to add a lot more liquid to create a pancake consistency.
Heat cast iron tava or non-stick tawa over medium flame. Add few drops of oil on hot tawa and spread it using a halved potato or a halved small onion. This process helps spreading of batter and also prevents it from sticking. Repeat this process before making each uttapam. (I didn’t do this.)
When tawa is ready, pour one ladle batter and spread it in round shape by gently rotating the ladle in clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. I used a ladle, but also switched to my right hand after the photo! This pan is a Le Creuset flat cast-iron grill that I use quite often.
Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped onion and 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped capsicum over it. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon finely chopped tomato and finely chopped green chillies over it. Gently press the veggies with a spatula. (I had mixed all of the veggies together.)
Drizzle 1 teaspoon oil around the edge. Cook for approx.2-3 minutes until bottom surface turns light golden brown. If you are making very thick uttapam, cover it with a lid to speed up the cooking process. Flip it gently and cook another side for a minute or until the bottom surface looks cooked. This is an important step otherwise the veggie side would be raw.
Transfer it to a plate. Repeat the process for remaining batter.
Serve it hot with coconut chutney or tomato onion chutney. (I thought a little yogurt or sour cream would be good!)
Plus I served it with an egg!
Tips and Variations:
The batter spread should not be very thin otherwise veggies will not stick with batter.
If batter is refrigerated, remove it from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before making the uttapam.
Sprinkle only onion and green chilli to make Onion Uttapam.
If you are making it for kids, garnish it with shredded or grated mozzarella cheese to give it a tempting Pizza look.
Add vegetables of your choice and according to the availability.
Add grated carrot, sweet corn, green beans etc. to enhance its flavor and taste.