A Chettinad specialty

It is difficult to imagine  Chettinad food without thinking of meat and eggs. The distinctive cuisine of the  Chettiar community, having their roots in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu, is now famous worldwide for its spicy meat delicacies. Its impact has been so strong that it is virtually recognized as a standalone cuisine, independent of a generic Tamil cuisine. But often, cuisines which are popular for their meat tend to marginalize the vegetarian components that can turn out to be wonders themselves.

Thankfully for us non-meat eaters, the delightful  Kuzhi Paniyaaram  has achieved its own identity and can survive without a meaty accompaniment. It has pervaded restaurant menus and since it is eaten best fresh and steaming, invariably earns its own counter at wedding feasts. The size and shape of the  Paniyaaram make it an ideal snack, one you can pop into your mouth with a dash of spicy chutney. Though the best tasting ones are often soaked in oil and a combination of crisp edges and a soft interior, a healthy  Paniyaaram can be tasty too, as in the case of this recipe which uses black rice.  

Accompanying recipe by Rakesh Raghunathan.

Saamai Paniyaaram

Makes 10-15


Soak the ingredients listed below in water for 2 hours:

1 cup saamai rice or little millet

1 cup black rice or any rice of your choice

1 tsp fenugreek ( methi) seeds

1/4 cup urad dal

4 red chillies

For tempering:

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 big onion, finely chopped

1 tsp cumin (jeera) seeds

A pinch of asafoetida

10 curry leaves

Salt to taste


1 Grind the soaked ingredients into a smooth batter. Do not add too much water while grinding. The batter consistency should be firm (not runny like dosa batter).You could substitute black rice with either brown or white rice in the same proportion.

2 Pour oil into a small pan and add the ingredients mentioned under ‘tempering’ in the order in which they are listed and season the the batter. Soak for about an hour. Do not place the batter inside the refrigerator. The batter is now ready to be poured into a  ‘paniyaaram chatti’ or a mould for frying.

3 For those who do not have a mould, heat oil in a pan, scoop the batter using a spoon and drop into hot oil and fry till well done. If you’re using a paniyaaram chatti (mould) , fill the moulds with minimal oil and pour batter into the mould. Flip and fry till well done.

Tip:  Vegetables like shredded carrots and sautéed peas can be added into the batter. The paniyaarams work well with cocktails and can also be served with sambhar or any other spicy chutney of your choice.

Note: This recipe is a healthy alternative to the usual one since we’ve used millet, black rice and a minimal amount of oil. The texture while biting into the paniyaaram is a little fibrous. These are very nutritive and a healthy alternative to the standard recipe. 

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 7:25:47 PM |

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