A couple weeks ago a friend of mine posted something about crepes on her fb wall and I wound up hijacking the whole conversation with some dosa gushing. I gushed a whole freaking paragraph comment worth with my recipe and I thought I might gush some more about them here a bit.
They are basically a very thin, crispy slightly fermented rice/lentil crepe-like pancake thing that is either eaten by itself and dipped into chutney, or filled with something and then also dipped in chutney. In restaurants I’ve had them filled (separately) with spicy potatoes, tandoori chicken and cheese. I do not recommend the cheese. I was thinking it was going to be a paneer type of cheese when I ordered it the one time – but it was cheddar. Not really what I’m usually looking for in an Indian food experience.
And when you order them in a restaurant they are HUGE. I make mine considerably smaller. Like the size of my whole hand stretched out – cause I am limited with my cooking areas and utensils right now. So I have to make do.
Here are three small dosas on a tray. Imagine a small hand stretched out on top.
But having limited resources does not stop me from making dosas for at least one meal a day, pretty much every day of the week. I love them. So much. Sometimes I eat them all day long.
I know my gushing isn’t really getting us anywhere, so what I’m gonna do is give you my recipes. There are many many blogs out there that can give you tips on how to make them – so I’m not gonna bother with that. All I’ll tell you is I use a very well seasoned 8 inch cast iron frying pan heated to medium low, make the batter very very thin, and fry till crisp.
There are also many many blogs out there that have very good recipes for everything I am going to talk about here today. These are my recipes. They may not be proper in the sense that…well, in the sense that they aren’t. I know I do not make my dosa batter the traditional way. So if you wanna whine about what a sub-par dosa maker I am – whine to someone who cares. I like my dosas.
Carol’s Dosa Batter
3/4 c uncooked rice
1/2 c uncooked brown lentils (I have also used split peas)
1/8 t fenugreek seeds (if you don’t have these it’s not the end of the world)
1/2 t salt
water to cover by 1/2 inch
Soak everything together for a few hours. Blend in blender or Vitamix till completely smooth. Let sit out – covered – at room temp overnight. If it is the middle of winter and your house is not warm try to find a warm spot to stick them – or put them on a heating pad on low. The next day the batter will be bubbly. If it is not as thin as, say, chocolate syrup, add a bit more water till it is. You want it to spread out very thin in the pan.
I keep a container of this in the fridge and it usually lasts about a week. I have no problem with using it that long because I know that it is lacto fermented and that keeps it safe – and makes it extra good for you.
Here is a closer up pic where you can see the holes that form in the dosas as they are cooking cause of the bubblyness of the batter…and a little spicy potato sticking out.
Carol’s Spiced Indian Potatoes
I have been making some sort of variation of these for about 20 years now. I don’t use a recipe – I just use whatever I’ve got around and add some spices. I’ll put a recipe-type thing together here for you though, cause you seem nice.
4-6 potatoes, peeled, cube, and cooked till pretty soft. I steam my potatoes in a rice cooker.
1/2 to 1 c secondary vegetable ingredient – peas, chopped cabbage, chopped onion, chopped garlic chives, chopped chard or kale, or pretty much any veg you would like to put with your potatoes
dash of asafoetida, 1 t whole cumin seeds, 1/2 t whole nigella (black onion) seeds, 1/2 t whole brown mustard seeds, 1/8 t crushed red pepper, 1 t ground cumin, 1 t ground coriander, 1 t garam masala or curry powder, 1 or more t salt
2-4 T oil
1/4 c lemon juice
So basically you put the whole spices in the oil (usually in the order I have them listed – there is a technique to this called tempering. I’m not very good at it so my spices might be a bit out of order but basically if you are using asafoetida you always start with that and let it cook till it expands, then add each whole spice one at at a time till they cook a bit and then the mustard seeds last cause when they are done they will pop), then add the crushed red pepper and after that the secondary veg to let it cook a bit, then the already cooked potatoes, then the ground spices – mix that around a bit, then the lemon juice (I like them really lemony) and salt and let the lemon juice sort of spread all the spices around and cook till a brown crust forms on the one side – then mix and turn the potatoes and cook again till they turn brownish. Then they are done.
The potatoes are on the right in this photo down below. I also used these potatoes to make samosas – and if I do that I add whole coriander seeds after the asafoetida and before the other whole spices.
The things on the left are pakoras. I don’t make these too often – but I made some yesterday so I thought I’d include them here. These particular ones are an amalgamation of a couple recipes I found on the internet. But I made my own recipe up cause I was trying to use a few things that I had – and I didn’t have any chickpea flour or rice flour. So I improvised. They turned out really good btw. Just sayin.
Carol’s Sweet Potato and Corn Pakoras
1/2 of an unskinned sweet potato, cooked and mashed
1/4 of a large onion, finely diced
corn cut off one whole ear
1/2 t garam masala
1/2 t spicy chili powder (I had berbere – which is Ethiopian – and that’s what I used, but feel free to use whatever spices you like)
1/4-1/2 c dosa batter (I used this because I didn’t have the chickpea and the rice flours and thought it would work – and it did!)
1/4-1/2 c white flour
1/4 c chopped cilantro
So basically what you want here is some frittery, thick but not too think and not too loose batter that can contain any vegetable you want and any spice. I added the dosa batter and the flour and mixed till it was about the consistency of very thick, cold oatmeal and I fried it by the spoonful in a deep fryer.
Carol’s Green Chutney
I have a whole post dedicated to my beloved green chutney/sprout sauce here. This time around I made it with all cilantro. If I just had dosas and green chutney to live off of for the rest of my life – ok nevermind. What I’m saying is I really really love green chutney.
That’s it there at the back.
I know. They kinda look like tacos – but if you refer to these as Indian tacos there’s gonna be some pretty big frowns headed in your direction. By me. I mean I understand that sometimes people need a frame of reference by which to understand something – like when people call pierogi Ukranian ravioli. I have actually attempted to describe pierogi using the ravioli context before – and kinda hated myself afterwords. Cause if your gettin all geared up for some taco or ravioli action – you’re probably gonna be really disappointed. But if you don’t have some preconceived taco notion in your head when you try dosas – you won’t have to fight off any “but it doesn’t taste anything like a taco” thoughts. You will just dig the experience for what it is. And sometimes they are referred to as Indian crepes – which isn’t much better cause even savory crepes are soft and eggy – and these aren’t.
So anyway…that white white stuff up there in the photo where they are still open is raita. It’s a mix of yogurt and pretty much anything you want to put in it. Some raitas have cubed tomatoes or grated carrot – and here’s the recipe for the the one up there in the picture. But I make it different all the time.
Add all in whatever quantity tastes good to you, mix and refrigerate.
So there you have it. One of the best meals in the world as far as I’m concerned.