If the mention of Kari Thosai, a thick, fluffy egg thosai with a caramelised minced meat topping already has you salivating, then please read on.
If you aren't, then I'd ask, "What's the matter with you? You don't like delicious meat pizzas?"
Kari Thosai is a very popular street food in Madurai, a bustling ancient temple city in Tamil Nadu that's famous for its street food culture and the Meenakshi Amman Temple.
At night, the streets come alive with street food carts and stalls peddling thosai, idiyappam, idlis and all types of delicious treats that have been influenced by thousands of years of interaction between traders and locals from all over India and the world.
To savour the best Kari (mutton in Tamil) Thosai, locals will tell you that Konar Mess makes the best ones as the dish is said to have been created by them.
The Konars are one of the many goat and cow herding communities living near Madurai and, naturally, their cuisine has many meat and offal dishes.
Kari Thosai uses thickened meat curry and shredded meat pieces that are added on thick egg thosai and cooked till deeply caramelised on both sides.
The result: A delectable, meaty thosai that could easily give the Pepperoni a run for its money.
To allow more people to savour this utterly delicious dish, I've used plant-based beef to make a Keema Curry and pair it with a punchy Curry Leaf Chutney that stands up to the rich, unctuous Keema gravy.
I've omitted the egg to keep it plant-based but if you'd like, drizzle some whisked egg mixture before adding the keema. I love this Keema Curry so much that I'm always eating it straight out of the pan.
The heady aromas emanating from the bubbling curry will have you salivating!
On occasion, I make a double batch of it and freeze it for future weekday meals with thick toast or plain rice. I can't stress enough how tasty this "Easy Keema Curry" is. Make it, and, I promise you, you'll not regret it.
Easy Keema Curry
- Two tablespoons cooking oil
- Two cloves
- One-inch cinnamon stick
- Two green cardamom pods
- 10 curry leaves
- Two medium purple onions, finely chopped
- One tablespoon minced garlic
- One tablespoon minced ginger
- One to two tablespoons sliced green chilli
- Two medium tomatoes, about 200-250 grams, roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Two tablespoons meat curry powder
- One to two teaspoons red chilli powder (optional for extra spiciness but highly recommended)
- 450-500 grams plant-based mince or minced meat
- ½ cup water
- 1½ tsp sea salt
- In a medium pot, heat cooking oil over medium flame. Once oil is hot but not smoking, add all cloves, cinnamon and cardamom and saute for five seconds. Then add curry leaves. They'll sizzle and spatter.
- Immediately add onions and a pinch of salt. Continue to saute until the edges of the onion start to brown.
- Add minced garlic and ginger. Saute for one minute till the pastes are cooked through.
- Add green chilli, chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, meat curry powder and red chilli powder (if using) and continue to saute the masala base until the oil starts to separate and the red oil is visible on the edges, about five to eight minutes.
- Increase heat to medium-high heat and immediately add minced meat with a ½ tsp of salt. Avoid salting if you're using plant-based meat which is usually already pre-seasoned.
- Quickly stir to break up meat pieces and saute constantly until meat is slightly browned. There will be some browned bits at the bottom of the pot.
- Add ½ cup water and scrape up all the browned bits. Reduce heat to low, cover pot with lid and gently simmer until minced is cooked thoroughly, about 20 minutes.
- Check for seasoning and add more salt if needed. If the gravy has thickened, add one cup of water and let it come to a simmer again. Switch the flame off and add chopped coriander leaves as garnish. Serve as a side with plain rice or as a topping for Kari Thosai.
How to make Kari Thosai
On a medium-hot pan, add ½ cup thick, No Grind thosai batter. Do not spread and thin out thosai like a regular thosai. Kari Thosai should be thick and spongy like crumpets.
Drizzle one to two tablespoons of Keema Curry or any leftover curry and shredded meat on top and add minced onions and chopped coriander if you like.
Cover the pan with a lid and let the thick thosai cook on medium-low flame until the batter is no longer opaque and uncooked.
Using a wide spatula, flip thosai over to cook on the top side. Cook till meat and onions are browned. Drizzle ghee or oil on the outer edges for crisp edges.
Flip over cooked Kari Thosai and serve immediately on its own or with Curry Leaf Chutney.
Kickass Curry Leaf Chutney
- One tablespoon gingelly/peanut oil
- One tablespoon whole urud dal
- Two large garlic cloves
- Two medium red onions or 10 small shallots
- Two large green chillies, about four to five inches long
- ½ inch, ½ teaspoon tamarind paste
- One cup, loosely packed fresh curry leaves, about 10 grams
- ⅛ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- Wash and dry curry leaves. Remove the skins of garlic and shallots and roughly chop them.
- In a hot skillet, add oil then add whole urud dal and saute till it starts to brown.
- Add chopped garlic, onions or shallots and green chillies. Saute till garlic and shallots begin to brown.
- Add tamarind and curry leaves and cook till curry leaves begin to soften.
- Switch off the flame and transfer mixture to a bowl to cool completely.
- Once completely cooled, blend until smooth and add salt for taste. Transfer to a serving bowl.
- In another pan, add mustard seeds to medium hot oil. Let the seeds sputter and pour over ground chutney before serving.
Vasun's thosai masterclass
Want to learn more? Vasun teaches the art of making thosai from scratch at her home. She's inspired by the nostalgia of her grandma's kitchen and the exacting science of thosai fermentation.
Thosai masterclass partipants will learn the basic science of thosai, how to soak and grind the batter from scratch, master the art of swirling and cooking thosais.
At the end of the four-hour $180 class, they also get to enjoy a tiffin meal with two chutneys and gunpowder podi, bring home all the food and successfully ferment their first batch of thosai.
For now, the thosai masterclass is for a maximum of two partipants, and held every Wednesday and Sunday.
For enquiries or to book a class with Vasun, email email@example.com or drop her a DM via Instagram @vasunthara.r.
This article was first published in Wonderwall.sg.