A few weeks ago, I was approached to work on a social media video series for Singapore Tourism Board by Viddsee Original Productions. It was for a series – Memories on a Plate, which is about recollections and stories behind dishes that are part of the culinary narrative of Singapore.
It was fantastic experience working with the team from Optical Films and I learnt so much about what goes on behind the scenes in a professional video and photoshoot. Despite the restrictions in place for safe distancing, the video shoot went smoothly.
In formulating the thosai recipe, I wanted to showcase my Singaporean and South Indian heritage in the dish and the centuries of maritime connections between Southeast Asia and India. So I used black glutinous rice – an ingredient that is indigenous to present-day South China and Vietnam and brought over to South India by the Chettiars after centuries of trade in Southeast Asia. I was also inspired by the ingredients found in kampongs of yesteryears and the common ingredients in the cuisines of Southeast Asia and South India and so I’ve used coconut, mango and shallots in my kerabu-inspired salad and lots of herbs and edible flowers which were commonly found in Singapore kampongs. Kerabu is a salad made with ingredients commonly found all over the Malay world and it usually includes lots of local herbs, flowers, grated unripe mango and a spicy, zesty dressing. In my recipe, I’ve kept the freshness of the salad to contrast with the earthiness of black glutinous rice and added toasted sesame seeds to mimic the flavours in the thosai so that the salad and thosai are harmonious.
I hope you give my Singaporean-inspired Purple Thosai a go.
Pulut Hitam (Black Glutinous Rice) Thosai
- 1/2 cup whole, deskinned urud dal
- 1 1/2 cups parboiled idli rice
- 1/2 cup Thai black glutinous rice
- 1/2 cup raw rice
- 2 cups cold water
- 1-2 ice cubes
- Wash and drain urud dal and rices 3 times.
- Soak all ingredients separately for 10 hours.
- After 10 hours, drain all soaking water.
- Using a high-speed blender or an indian blender, grind urud dal with ice cubes till foamy and cloud-like, about 10-15 minutes. If too thick, add a spoonful of cold water at a time. Use as little water as possible. Transfer ground urud dal to a large bowl
- Grind black glutinous rice with 1/2-1 cup cold water until is finely ground.
- Grind parboiled idli and raw rice with 1/2-1 cup cold water until the mixture resembles fine semolina granules. Transfer to same large bowl.
- Thoroughly mix the ground mixtures together. Vigorously mix and beat the batter with your hand for 3 minutes.
- Leave batter in bowl in a warm, dark place to ferment for 10-16 hours.
- A fully fermented batter will tastes slightly sour, will have popped air bubbles on the surface and have almost doubled in volume.
- Once fully fermented, add 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt and mix thoroughly.
- Add 2-3 cups water to fermented batter to thin it out before making thosai.
- Make the thosai as usual on your cast iron tava or flat crepe pan.
- 3/4 – 1 cup finely grated fresh coconut
- 1/2 cup cubed, ripe mango
- 1-2 tablespoons red onions or shallots, finely minced
- 1 cup finely sliced herbs (coriander, thai basil, lemon basil, mint, ulam raja, torch ginger)
- 1-2 red thai chilli padi, finely sliced
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh calamansi or lime juice
- 1-2 tablespoons, toasted white and black sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup edible flowers (optional but very pretty)
- fine sea salt, to taste
- Add all ingredients into a large bowl. Gently toss to combine.
- Add salt to taste just before serving.
- Serve immediately with Pulut Hitam Thosai.
The other video and recipe for Coconut Chutney coming soon.