Looking for naanis and daadimaas


A multi-ethnic cuisine program for nonnas is looking for naanis. Having featured nonnas (Italian for grandmas) from several countries they want to feature a naani or a daadimaa.

The “Nonnas in Training” program run by Joe Scaravella at his Staten Island restaurant, has featured nonnas from Bulgaria, Armenia, Venezuela, Palestine, Syria, and even Siberia. But one from India has yet to make her appearance, says Scaravella, who started the program in memory of his own grandmother at Enotica Maria.

Because cuisines span nationalities and cultures in South Asia, May Joseph, a Sri Lankan-American could be considered a stand-in for the region. She was featured at Scaravella’s establishment. This Sri Lankan nonna’s dish, hoppers, is an example of the affinity in food in the South Asian subcontinent. They are also a popular breakfast dish in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where they are called appam or paal appam when eaten with coconut milk.

Joseph has made lump rice, puttu, eggplant, and a number of other dishes, and uses her exclusive curry powder. As she toys with ideas for her next menu, she shared her hoppers recipe with Desi Talk.

By May Joseph

Yeast mixture:
2 tsp yeast granules
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 cup lukewarm water
4 cups rice flour
1 cup lukewarm water
1 13 oz can of coconut milk + 1/2 can of lukewarm water
2 tbsp sugar
t tbsp oil
salt to taste


Mix the ingredients for the yeast mixture and leave for 15 minutes until frothy. If the mixture is not frothy at this point, the yeast you used is too old, you will need a new packet of yeast.

Put the rice flour into a large bowl and add the yeast mixture. Next add the 1 cup lukewarm water. Mix well. Now cover the bowl with a wet cloth or plastic wrap and leave for about eight hours in a warm place. The batter should rise to double the original amount.

Finally before preparation add 3/4 of the (coconut milk with water) and 2 tbsp sugar and stir well. If more liquid is needed, add the remaining of the coconut milk little by little. The batter should be thinner than a pancake batter. Add salt to taste.

Soak a small piece of cloth in oil in a saucer. Heat a small hopper pan on medium. When hot rub the pan thoroughly with the oiled-cloth. Add about 1/4 cup of the batter to the pan and turn the pan in a circular motion so that the batter sticks to the sides of the pan.

Cover and cook for about a minute under low-medium heat. Use a butter knife to loosen the edges of the hopper and serve hot.



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