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What Is Kuzhi Paniyaram?

By Andy Josiah
Updated May 16, 2024
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Kuzhi paniyaram is a dish from the southern region of India, characterized by balls primarily made from rice batter and black lentils. It is also commonly known as appam or rice buns, and it is commonly eaten for breakfast or as a snack. Synonyms mainly used in South India for this recipe include appe, guliappa, gulittu, and gundponglu, among others.

A pan containing several round compartments — similar to a muffin pan — is the traditional cookware used for making the kuzhi paniyaram. First, though, a batter is made out of combining rice and black lentils, known as urad dal in India. Seeds from the Fenugreek plant, called methi, and salt are added to give the batter spice and seasoning. The batter is made by soaking the ingredients in a bowl for hours, grinding the contents, then letting it ferment. Some people, however, choose to skip the whole batter-making process by buying a packaged mix from the supermarket.

Ingredients such as grated carrots, curry leaves, ginger, green chilies and onions are added to the batter. After mixing, the batter is poured into the pan's compartments and placed in an oven. After a while, the developing buns must be turned to expose the other side for cooking.

The kuzhi paniyaram is ready when it acquires a golden-brown color all around it. The resulting bun- or doughnut-shaped cake often is consumed with chutney, which is a spicy mix of fruits and vegetables. Many people, however, choose to eat it without any condiments.

South India, which comprises four states — Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka — is known as the origin of kuzhi paniyaram. Rice is a staple food in this region of the country. Moreover, lentils and spices are extensively used in South Indian cuisine.

Specifically, kuzhi paniyaram originated in Tamil Nadu, from which several similar dishes originate. One of them is idli, a savory cake made in roughly the same manner as kuzhi paniyaram and consumed in the Indian state since as early as the 8th century. More so than kuzhi paniyaram, it is commonly eaten with condiments such as chutney or a vegetable stew, called sambar, made with tamarind and pigeon peas. Kuzhi paniyaram has also been compared with dosa, which is also made from rice and lentils. It is, however, described and prepared as a fermented pancake or crepe rather than a bun-shaped cake.

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