Paniyaram or ‘Kuzhi paniyaram’ in Tamil, is an indigenous south-Indian preparation created by steam cooking or shallow frying fermented batter made using rice and black gram dhal (split black lentils). This batter is more or less the same as that used to make idli and dosa. The paniyaram is prepared in a special mould similar to the idli mould but smaller and more round in shape.
Paniyarams may be prepared either savoury or sweet. They are a very popular breakfast item among many South-Indian communities but are well accepted as a snack too. They are commonly carried as a tiffin item as they are convenient and non-messy.
Ingredients and Preparations
For kara (savoury) paniyarams raw rice, idli rice, black gram (urad) dal, fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) are main ingredients.
Rice and lentils are soaked with fenugreek seeds for up to 6-8 hours before grinding to idli batter consistency. After adding some salt and mixing well the batter is left to ferment for about 10- 12 hours (best overnight).
These can be prepared plain as such or with added seasonings-
Seasoning for kara paniyaram includes finely chopped Onions, Green chillies, Curry leaves, Grated coconut, Mustard seeds, Black gram (Urad) dal. In a small pan with little heated oil, mustard seeds are first crackled, curry leaves, dal, onions are added and fried till transparent. Green chillies and coconut are added and sautéed. This is added to the prepared batter and mixed well. Then the paniyarams are prepared by pouring into the greased mould and covering with a lid cooking on both sides till golden brown.
The sweet version is prepared using jaggery, ripe banana, coconut gratings and some green cardamom powder, cooked in some ghee (clarified butter).
A serving size of 6 small savoury “Kuzhi Paniyarams” ~ 180 g provides-
• A total of ~272 calories, calories from fat being 96 calories.
• Total fat content of 14.4 g, saturated fat content of 0.4 g.
• Sodium content of 125 mg and Potassium content of 230 mg.
• Total carbohydrate content of 42.2 g with sugar 0.4 g and dietary fibre content of 2 g with other carbohydrate components making up the remainder.
• Total protein content of 4.8 g.
• Estimated percent calories from fat is 27.2%, from carbohydrates is 66.3 % and from proteins 6.5 %.
• In case of the sweet version, a single paniyaram may provide 75 to 90 calories.
• Ragi flour, in combination with some mixed lentils- split green gram, black gram in measured amounts can be used to prepare nutritious kuzhi paniyarams. These add more protein value by supplying a combination of amino acids; enhance the iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium content. Ragi is relatively low in fat with more of unsaturated fats. It is easy to digest, but does not allow rapid rise in blood glucose. Also it does not contain gluten making it fit for consumption by Gluten-intolerant persons.
• Oatmeal flour may alternatively be used in making paniyarams with higher B-vitamin and fibre content. Oatmeal flour has a positive effect on blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels while promoting healthy weight loss.