I cant think of an exact translation from the Tamil "Thattai" into English... I guess the closest would be "flatties" or possibly "patties" - because they are patted flat with your fingers into small discs :) Thattais are available all the year round in Indian sweet shops but I think they're much nicer home-made. Some people add bits of coconut (bleagh!) to the dough but - quite apart from my dislike of coconut in certain food items - I think that's a bad idea because the thattais quite soon acquire the flavour of stale coconut. Not good!
4 cups rice flour
1/2 cup urad dal flour (can be ground at home in a spice/coffee grinder, but sieve it to get the finest powder)
2 htbsp chana dal, soaked for 10 minutes in hot water
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp red chilli powder, or to taste
2 tsp white sesame seeds
Salt to taste
10 curry leaves, roughly torn (optional)
Water as required
Oil for deep-frying
1. Mix all the ingredients into a fairly stiff dough.
2. Lightly grease a clean plastic sheet.
3. Make small balls (slightly smaller than ping-pong ball size) and pat each one lightly into a circle with your fingers to make the thattais. They should be more or less even all over and approximately 1/4-cm thick.
4. Prick the thattais all over with a fork so that they dont puff up during frying.
5. Heat the oil while you are making about a dozen or so thattais. When a piece of bread dropped in the oil sizzles immediately, it is at the right temperature.
6. Carefully peel the thattais off the plastic sheet one by one and slide them into the oil. Fit in as many as your wok will comfortable take.
7. Fry the thattais on medium heat, turning them over occasionally, until they are golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon on to absorbent paper.
8. Serve as a snack with tea/coffee, etc. Store in an airtight tin.