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Indian Food : Traditional Masala Dosa

Traditional Masala Dosa

3 cups rice (not basmati!), soaked overnight, room temp. water.
1 cup urad dal (a specific type of lentils avail. at Indian grocery stores--- no substitution; other dals will not work like this)

Soaked separately overnight. Traditionally, stone grinders (huge mortars) and rolling pestles are used to grind the rice and the urad dal and motorized versions of those are now available at Indian elcetronic stores in D.C. A mixie or a blender cuts the grains into fine pieces, but does not "mash" them like the stone grinders do. So there is a good deal of difference taste when you use a blender. But still, it is not bad at all if you make sure that you grind the rice really fine. Cover the rice with water just 1/2 "above the rice line in the blender. Grind till Sssssmooth. Grind the dal separately, with water that barely covers it. Grind a long time (be patient!), stirring once in a while and grinding again. When the dal is ground very well, and small air bubbles appear once you stop running the blender, it is enough. Add more water if necessary. But this should be very thick. MIx the rice and the urad dal pastes, with 1/2 tsp salt. Add one tablespoon beaten yogurt, and mix well. Keep covered to let oit ferment fro at least 5 to 8 hrs or more. (Keep it close to a heater or in any warm place). Once it has risen, stir briefly, and keep it oin the fridge.

You have the batter now. Grease a griddle with plain sesame oil or peanut oil if you care about max. flavor; if not use veg. oil. The heat should be medium or slightly higher. When hot (a few drops of water will sizzle gently and disappear), using a metal ladle, pour one ladleful over the griddle; with quick and even and gentle strokes, spread the batter out with the ladle as if you are drawing concentric circles on the batter. Do it either clockwise OR anticlockwise else you get lumps. It takes a few tries believe me, and some of us who are trained well in this mess up occasioanlly. drizzle oil around edges, and on top. Once the bottom is cooked, turn it over, and cook the top. Be careful when using your spatula (metal preferred) to take it out to flip it. This can be served with chilli-dal-spice powder and oil or ghee, coconut chutney, cilantro or mint chutney, onion chutney, or red garlic chutney, and/or saambar. (If you want their recipes, email me) This is standard breakfast or supper fare for us, growing up in the south.

Else, as in your restaurant, make a filling as follows:
1. Take 2 large boiled potatoes, peel and mash coarsely.
2. Thinly slice one large red onion, 2 cloves of garlic (optional) and 3 or 4 green chillies.
3. Grate a 1" piece of ginger.
4. Cut up a tomato if you want.
5. Take a sprig of curry leaves and chop them coarsely.
6. Heat some veg. oil, add some fennel seeds, and cummin seeds (1/2 tsp. each)
7. Add 1/2 tsp of black mustard seeds.
8. When they crackle, add the green chillies, ginger, garlic (if used), and onions and fry them with a little salt for a while till onions are transparent. Add curry leaves.
9. Next add 1/2 pkt of frozen peas, tomatoes (if you choose), and fry for 5 minutes.
10. Add the potatoes, and more salt if desired. stir well till blended
11. Add some chopped cilantro if you want.

When making the dosai, spread the batter out as mentioned earlier, drizzle oil, and keep the skillet or griddle covered (any cover will do as long as the dosai area is covered; just be sure the cover does not touch the dosai). In less than a minute, the dosai will be cooked with oil on the bottom, and its top will be cooked by the steam that is generated when you cover it. The color is now not the white of the batter but kinda dull; you'll know) Turn the heat down, place the cooled filling acrooss the center along the diagonal, and fold both sides overlappingly over it to form a cylindrical shape. Increase the heat slightly, drizzle more oil, and cook both sides till golden. Else, place the filling in the center, and fold from three sides, forming a triangle, overlapping and covering the filling.