Most foreign visitors to India are fascinated by the spectrum of ingredients, flavours and textures in Indian cuisine. Recently one such friend visited India for the first time and was quite taken up with the Dosa.
In appearance it's a bit like the pancake – batter spread in a round and cooked. But there the resemblance ends. The Dosa is made of fermented rice and urad daal, whereas the pancake found in the West is usually wheat flour based.
The Dosa originated in South India. Like many other regional items, it has been assimilated in mainstream Indian gastronomic culture. It is usually eaten with an accompaniment of either a daal-based or coconut-based chutney, or vegetable to form a complete meal.
The North Indians could add paneer to the veg. Non-vegetarians might eat it with chicken curry. Kids love dosa spread with cheese on top. I have even heard of a restaurant selling Chinese Dosa!
Here's a recipe for Dosa with potato vegetable, my style.
(makes 8 – 10 medium sized dosas)
2 cups rice (called as 'ukdaa tandul' in stores in Maharashtra)
3/4 cup urad daal
Salt to taste
Oil for spreading for each dosa
For serving - pats of unsalted butter.
Separately soak rice and urad dal in water, overnight. In the morning, grind together to a fine paste using up all the water for soaking. Leave in room temperature for 8-10 hours approx. The mixture should have fermented and taste sour by then. Add the remaining water till you get batter of spreading consistency. Add a little salt to taste (just a hint).
Heat a nonstick pan with a teaspoon of oil in the centre.
Spread a large spoonful of the batter on pan in so it gives you a pancake like round. Spread the mixture around to aim for a thinner and crisper Dosa. Cover with a lid for a minute or so, for the Dosa to steam. Now remove the lid and flip the Dosa on its other side with a spatula. Do not cover with lid this time. Cook for a minute or so. One side should be brown and the other a kind of white sprinkled with brown. (Some people prefer to cook it only on one side.)
Remove on to a plate. Serve hot with potato onion vegetable (given below) or a pungent chutney. I love it plain, with unsalted butter melting on top.
Ideally the end product should be soft, fluffy and crisp at the same time :)
Potato onion vegetable
3 large potatoes, diced into small cubes
1 medium onion, sliced lengthwise
2 green chillies diced small.
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon asafoetida
First make the tadka. To it add onion. Fry for about 5 minutes on medium heat or until onions turn transparent. Add potatoes. Add salt to taste and ½ a tsp of sugar. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes.
This vegetable can be served with Dosa, Indian bread or steamed rice.