Dosa (Fermented Rice & Lentil Bread)

Dosa Dosa flatbread is very thin, crispy and savory sourdough bread, a favorite staple eaten with South India cuisine, like my favorite Lamb & Spinach. Dosa is similar in taste and texture to Ethiopian injerra bread, with a slight “tang“flavor, and a “lacy” texture, a result of fermentation, for 18-24 hours. During fermentation, the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) do what the good Lord created it to do – break down the sugars, starches and fats, making them more easily digestible, while turning the bread into a powerful probiotic which aids in the digestion of other foods. In addition, LAB create antimicrobial compounds providing a broad spectrum of inhibition against pathogens and food spoilage microorganisms. Modern food processing offers NOTHING even remotely close, when it comes to the power of fermentation to create and protect the living vitality and life-giving properties of real food.

Many traditional food preparation methods have been replaced with modern faster techniques, but faster is seldom better when it comes to food. It took quite a bit of looking to find a dosa recipe that was traditionally made, and just like the Lamb & Spinach, it was Madhur Jaffrey who had the best recipe! I have made some modifications and suggestions to the recipe, giving both a “short” and detailed set of directions. If you’ve made French crepes, this is no different. If not? Well, these are a great way to learn some advanced cooking techniques!

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

Cast Iron Round Griddle I use a 10-inch well-seasoned cast iron “tortilla pan” or Lodge round, flat, cast iron griddle which works as extremely well, and is a great deal healthier than Jaffrey’s recommendation of using (yikes!) nonstick. I even use my Lodge round, flat, cast iron griddle when making crepes!

Flat Stainless Steel Spatula goes a long way toward make removal of the dosa (as well as crepes) easy-as-can-be. The key is to use one like this stainless steel narrow spatula that is firm, yet flexible.

Lamb & Spinach & Dosa 2

Madhur Jaffrey’s South Indian Dosas

Dosas, plain or stuffed, may be served at breakfast, lunch, brunch, or as a snack. In South India, they are often accompanied by glasses of buttermilk or cups of steaming hot, sweet, milky coffee. Dosas may also be served as any Indian bread might be, with an assortment of vegetables and relishes.

Please read the notes on Indian pancakes in the preceding posting, especially the part that deals with cooking the pancakes, before making these dosas.

Since the dal and rice must be soaked 8 hours and paste must ferment almost a day, plan ahead.

Makes 8 pancakes (easily doubles and stores well for up to 4 days!)

1/2 cup urad dal
1 cup long grain rice
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground fenugreek (methi) seeds
Organic Purity Farms Ghee

SHORT DIRECTIONS

  1. Separately soak rice and urad dal at least 6 hour or overnight in water.
  2. Grind to paste.
  3. Mix together, add salt and with enough water to make batter.
  4. Leave in room temperature 12-20 hours.
  5. Heat pan or griddle with little ghee or oil.
  6. Spread the mix on pan in circular motion to make thin Dosa.
  7. Cook on both the sides, if desired.

DETAILED DIRECTIONS

  1. Pick over the urad dal, wash, drain, and then soak in 2 cups water for 8 hours.
  2. Wash the rice well, drain, and then soak in 3 cups water for 8 hours.
  3. Drain the dal. Put it in the container of a food processor (with the metal blade in place) or a blender. Run the machine for 2 minutes, pushing down the dal with a rubber spatula every now and then. Now add 2 tbl water and let the machine run another minute. Add another 2 tbl water and let the machine run another minute. Keep doing this until you have added 3/4 cup water. The dal should be very well ground, light and fluffy. Put this paste into a bowl.
  4. Drain the rice. Put it into the container of the food processor or blender. Process the rice just the way you did the dal, until you have added 3/4 cup water and the rice is reduced to very fine, semolinalike grains. Pour this rice paste over the dal paste. Mix. Cover, and leave to ferment in a warm place for 16 to 20 hours.
  5. See that you have everything ready for dosa-making. Not far from your 8-inch, nonstick skillet should be your oil (take it out in a cup), a teaspoon, a rounded soupspoon, your bowl of batter, a 1/2-cup measuring cup, and a plastic spatula. Also have a plate beside you on which you can put the dosas as they cook. If you like, this plate may be kept in a warming oven.
  6. The batter should have a frothy, fermented look and smell.
  7. Add the salt and crushed fenugreek to the batter and stir.
  8. Preheat the cast iron pan over medium heat. With a silicone brush, generously cover pan surface with a layer of ghee
  9. Pan is ready when a drop of water ‘dances’ across its surface
  10. Jaffrey’ Technique: Remove 1/2 cup of the batter and pour it into the middle of the skillet. Let it sit there for 3 to 4 seconds. Place the rounded bottom of the soupspoon very lightly into the center of the batter. Using a slow, gentle, and continuous spiral motion, spread the batter outward with the back of the soupspoon until you have a pancake that is about 7 inches in diameter. My Technique: is easier and the pancake won’t tear as it will with the spoon method. Pour the 1/2 cup of batter onto the griddle, letting it sit for 3-4 seconds. Picking the pan up, gently roll the pan in a circular motion, swirling the batter into a 7-inch diameter circle.
  11. If the ghee is close to the burner, it should be liquid; using your silicone brush, dribble 1/2 tsp oil over the pancake. Cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on the first side or until the dosa turns a nice, golden-brown color. Lower your heat if necessary. Turn the dosa over using a stainless steel narrow spatula and cook, uncovered, for another minute, or until the second side develops golden-brown spots.
  12. Put the cooked dosa on a warm plate. Stir the batter and make another dosa, just as you made the first. Make all dosas this way. Serve with the first side cooked up, accompanied by South Indian Coconut Chutney.

To make stuffed dosas or Masala Dosa (as they are called in India):

Make a recipe of Potatoes and Onions first. This dish may even be made a day ahead of time and then reheated. Now make the dosas. Lay out each dosa on an individual plate, with its “good” side-the side that was cooked first-down. Spread 3 to 4 tablespoons of the heated potato stuffing over half the dosa. Fold the dosa over to form a capital “D”. Once the dosa is stuffed, it should be served immediately.

Zakiya’s Potatoes and Onions

This dish, while it can be eaten as part of any Indian meal, forms the traditional stuffing for dosas (see previous posting). The dosa, a kind of pancake made with rice and urad dal, is put on a plate, some of this potato-onion mixture is placed on top of it, and the dosa is folded over once. The stuffed dosa is then called a Masala Dosa and serves the same function as a sandwich does in America.

serves 4-6 as a vegetable dish and will stuff 8 dosas

4 medium size boiling potatoes (about 1 pound)
3/4 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 3 to 4 pieces
1 fresh hot green chili, or more to taste, cut into 2 to 3 pieces
1/4 cup vegetable oil
generous pinch ground asafetida
1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
2 medium size onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
Boil the potatoes until tender. Let them cool, then peel and cut into 3/4 inch dice.

Put the ginger and chili and 1/4 cup water into a blender or food processor and blend until you have a somewhat grainy paste. Set aside.

Heat the oil in an 8 to 9 inch skillet over a medium flame. When hot, put in the asafetida first and then, a second later, the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop (this takes just a few seconds), put in the onions. Turn the heat down slightly and saute the onions for about 5 minutes or until they turn translucent. (Do not let them brown.) Now add the paste from the food processor as well as the turmeric. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Put in the potatoes, 1 cup water, and the salt. Cover, and cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Lift cover and, using a slotted spoon, break the potato pieces into smaller 1/3 to 1/2 inch cubes. Cover again and cook on very low heat for another 3 to 4 minutes. The “sauce” for the potato dish should now be very thick. Serve either as is or stuff Masala Dosa according to directions in previous posting.

from Mahdur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking