Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Masala dosa

It's been a while since I've posted a food entry on my blog so here's one. I've had masala dosa a couple of times at markets / fairs and decided I'd try making them at home. Dosa is a fermented, gluten-free pancake that is a common breakfast food in Southern India. The masala bit is the filling. I scouted around on the internet as well as asked a guy who was making them at the market for his advice before heading off to an Indian supermarket (in Nelson St, Petone) to pick up some ingredients. You do need to plan ahead as the process involves both soaking time and fermenting time before you get to the cooking part. Here's the recipe and method I used for the dosa.

2 cups white rice
1 cup urad dal
1 tblsp chana dal
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

Soak all ingredients in water for 4-5 hours. I used my food processor to grind into a runny batter. The batter feels a little gritty but that's fine. Now comes the fermenting part. I left the batter to ferment for about 20 hours (in the sun room where it's nice and warm) but according to the recipe I used around 12 hours is ok.

With the dosa batter made I then prepared the following filling.

1/2 tsp urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 onion
4 curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 green chillis
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated

Boil potatoes until tender. Crush lightly with a fork. In a pan, heat oil and add urad dal. Stir for a few seconds then add mustard seeds. Allow them to pop and then add curry leaves. Fry for 30 seconds. Add onion and cook for five minutes until the onion is translucent. Add turmeric, ginger and chillis. Mix well for 2 minutes. Make sure the liquid has evaporated and add the potatoes. Fold them in.

The usual way to cook the dosa is on a big, flat hotplate which I don't have. So I used our large cast iron frypan with some trepidation. I oiled the pan, got it nice and hot and poured the first measure of batter into the pan. Using the back of the soup ladle I spread the batter out and cooked it until brown and crispy (on one side). Normally at this stage you would add the filling, fold or roll the dosa and serve it to eat. I decided to cook all the dosa and let people fill their own at the table so I flipped each dosa and then piled them up in the oven to keep warm. Between each dosa I re-oiled the pan. While it was a little scary cooking the first couple they worked out really well, didn't stick to the pan and didn't fall apart.

While this meal took a long lead time to prepare it wasn't difficult and the dosa were easier to cook than I thought they would be. You could fill the dosa with all sorts of different curries. Try it sometime. It's delicious.

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