Surnali is a south Indian Konkani style fluffy, spongy rice pancake made either sweet (called godu or sweet surnali; sweetened with jaggery or unrefined cane sugar) or savory (cheppi surnali; without the jaggery). It is normally and traditionally served with dollops of fresh homemade butter or ghee (clarified butter) and some Indian pickles and chutney.
Normally, Indians do not prefer anything sweet as a breakfast dish. We usually eat our dosas, idlis, puris, upma etc which are all savory. Godu surnali is an exception in a Mangalorean Konkani household! Sweet, spongy and fluffy rice pancakes with yogurt in the batter and sweetened with healthy jaggery conjures up wonderful childhood memories when my mother used to make the sweet ones for me and savory for my father.
Even today, the same tradition carries on! I make the sweet version for me and my sons (almost always enjoyed with spicy Indian pickles) and my husband prefers only the savory surnali with some spicy coconut chutney like hing chutney, onion chutney, peanut chutney or coriander chutney on the side.
So, with one batter, you get to enjoy both sweet and savory surnalis. The ingredients are very basic; just rice, flattened or beaten rice or poha and some yogurt or curds. Soak rice along with some fenugreek seeds or methi (this not only is healthy, but gives an amazing flavor and porous texture to the pancake) and blend along with poha soaked in yogurt to a smooth and thick paste and stir in baking soda (helps in fermentation, especially in cold weather).
To make sweet surnali, just remove a part of the batter and mix in some powdered jaggery. Add some Turmeric powder; it gives a beautiful color! To the rest of the batter, add some more salt and leave both batters for overnight fermentation. Make soft surnalis the next day.
Enjoy south Indian Konkani style sweet and savory surnalis any time now with my easy recipe!
For more south Indian breakfast, try:
- 2 cups rice
- 2 cups poha/flattened rice
- 1 ½ cups yogurt/curd/dahi diluted with some water
- 1 teaspoon methi/fenugreek seeds
- ½ to ¾ cup powdered jaggery/unrefined cane sugar (adjust according to your taste)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda (it helps during winter season)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- Ghee/clarified butter/oil
- Wash rice well and soak with fenugreek seeds in plenty of water for 3 to 5 hours.
- Soak poha/flattened rice in yogurt (use additional water if you find the yogurt is too thick) for about ½ an hour.
- In a blender jar, grind or blend soaked and drained rice in as little water as possible until smooth. Add soaked poha and blend again to a fine paste. You can do this in batches. The batter should be thick.
- Transfer to a large container and add baking soda. Mix well.
- Divide the batter into 2. To one part, add powdered jaggery (or according to taste; do not add more as it will dilute the batter too much once the jaggery is completely dissolved and the surnali will not come out well), turmeric and a pinch of salt. Mix well.
- To the second part, add salt to taste and mix well.
- Keep aside the batters to ferment for about 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
- Heat a flat griddle or dosa griddle on medium heat.
- Once the pan is hot, reduce heat to medium or even low (dosa or surnali with jaggery burns easily and will make for burnt surnali in no time!) and gently pour one ladle of batter (sweet or salty) in the center of the pan. Spread gently with the bottom of the ladle in circular moments to make a thick dosa. Do not spread too much; surnalis are eaten thick.
- Drizzle some ghee (or oil) over the surnali. Cook covered till the top is cooked.
- Repeat the same with the rest of the batter (store leftover batter in the refrigerator).
- Remove and serve hot; sweet surnali with fresh homemade ghee or butter and pickles.
- Savory surnali is served with coconut chutney.
- (If you want, gently flip and cook the other side of the surnali for a few seconds, totally optional).
- Use batter within a day or two.
- Do not add excess water to the batter, as it will be difficult to take it out of the griddle,
- You can add some grated coconut to the batter while blending for extra softness and a different flavor.