Ganapathy belongs to Thirukoshtiyur near Karaikudi. His father ran a hotel that served some of the best local and heritage dishes. To ensure top-class education and a bright future for Ganapathy, they shifted to Erode when he was 12 years old, where he finished his school and college in Madurai.
His school friend Ravi encouraged him to write scripts and join an amateur drama troop to get exposure. Next to Ganapathy’s house in Chennai, there was a writer called G Krishnamurthy, who taught him how to write scripts, dialogue, screenplay and visualisations. Under his guidance, he assisted in dialogues for many like Sathan Sollai Thattathe with SV Sekar. Ganapathy was also the dialogue writer for Nam Kudumbam and accompanied him for over 2,000 stage shows all over the world. In 1996 he joined director Venkat and did a serial called Achee. He acted in a pivotal role in Sontham. Galatta Kudumbam Part 2 was written and directed by Ganapathy. Presently, he is directing, writing the screenplay and acting in a TV serial called Karma at Kumbakonam. From hot pongal and vadas for breakfast to a traditional milagu kuzhambu and paruppu thogayal for lunch, he is getting to taste the best of what Thanjavur has to offer.
Ganapathy’s wife loves his cooking and happily hands over the kitchen to him. The actor plays different music while cooking. He considers cooking as a stressbuster. Ganapathy can cook almost any type of cuisine and spends his holidays entertaining his friends with his cooking. He has a special skill to make different varieties of dosa — be it neerdosa, murungai ilai dosa, gongura dosa, masala dosa, ghee roast and more. His all-time favourite is gongura dosa. Combined with gongura chutney, this spicy south Indian dosa has tons of fans.
Gongura leaves are medium to large and are broad, flat, and native to India, especially, where the weather is sunny and hot. Smaller gongura leaves offer a mild green and tangy flavour, whereas more mature specimens are robust and acrid. Warm temperatures also affect the taste of the leaf because the hotter it gets, the sourer the leaf will taste. Gongura is also known as red sorrel, ambada, pitwaa, or pulicha keerai in parts of India, you might hear gongura referred to as the roselle plant as well. There are two main varieties of gongura including red-stemmed and green stemmed. The nutritive value is high and an excellent source of folate, riboflavin, iron, zinc, antioxidants, and vitamins A, B6, and C.
Gongura leaves may be pickled, steamed, blanched, or grounded into a paste and combined with garlic, chilies, and salt to make chutney. The sour leaves heighten the rich flavour of legumes and fatty meats, therefore making them a perfect complement to dishes with lentils or mutton. Gongura leaves can be cooked with shrimp, mussels, and fish and are also used raw in salads. Gongura leaves are commonly prepared with flavours that complement it like tamarind, red and green chillies, turmeric, cumin, onion, garlic, sesame, cumin, asafoetida and various other spices. Gongura dosa was the discovery of an Andhra chef from Nellore, who felt adding chopped gongura leaves and gongura chutney to the dosa batter will turn out to be a mouth-watering spicy dosa.
GONGURA DOSA RECIPE
Parboiled rice: 2 cups| Urad dal:1/2 cup| Gongura Leaves (avoid stem): 1 bunch| Small Onions: 10| Big Onion: 1| Red chillies: 4| Hing: 1/2 tsp| Groundnut oil: 1 tbsp| Ghee: 1/2 tsp| Tamarind paste: 1 tsp| Cumin: 1/2 tsp| Fenugreek: 1/2 tsp Chilli powder: 1 tsp| Salt to taste for the gongura paste and add to the batter
For dosa batter: Soak 2 cups parboiled rice, 1/2 cup urad dal and 1/2 tsp methi for 2 hours
Grind them to a smooth paste. Add salt and ferment it for 7 hours
Wash the leaves and drain them
Chop a few leaves to mix with batter and keep them aside
Chop big and small onions
Add chopped small onions to the batter, rest then go for frying.
Heat a kadai with 1 tsp oil. Add red chillies, hing, onions, cumin, and saute till pinkish. Add remaining gongura leaves and saute till it is cooked
Add tamarind pulp, saute for 2 mins. Turn off the gas
Grind them with salt in the mixer to a smooth paste. Don’t add water
Add some chopped onions, gongura leaves, chilly powder and a pinch to the batter
Heat the tawa and grease with onion and oil. Pour dosa batter from the centre and spread clockwise
Drizzle oil and ghee on all sides. Close it with the lid The bottom will turn golden brown and the top will also get cooked
Apply gongura paste and spread it all over the dosa. If preferred, serve gongura chutney separately
Serve hot with chutney or sauce
PREP TIME: soaking,grinding & fermenting: 9 min COOKING TIME: 20 mins SERVES: 3 pax CALORIES PER SERVE: 135 cl per dosa
GANAPATHY’S KITCHEN TIPS
Gongura leaves will be fresh for up to five days when unwashed, wrapped in a damp paper towel and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Once the dosa batter is ready you can add whatever you want to make the dosa of your choice
For crispy dosa, add a little roasted rava to it
— Chef Ramaa Shanker is the author of Festive Offerings to the Gods: Divine Soul Recipes