A savoury crepe or pancake, dosas are a breakfast staple in Southern Indian households. Chutneys and tart spicy sambhar (a type of lentil preparation) are typical accompaniments. Dosas can be filled much like crepes to make them more hearty. Potato curry, caramelized onions, cooked lentils, stir-fried vegetables or scrambled tofu are all great options.
The recipe may have you scrambling for ingredients not found in the typical everyday pantry. The process might seem daunting and the wait.. Let's just say, dosas are the opposite of fast food! However, once you get your head wrapped around it, they are a cinch to plan, process and throw together and can feed a crowd.
Makes about (24)
4 cups brown rice
1 cup ivory lentils (urad dal with or without skins, split or whole)
1 handful - about 3 Tbsp. - yellow split peas (chana dal or Bengal gram dal)
2 tsp. fenugreek seeds (methi)
Salt to taste
Place the rice and lentils in a large fine mesh sieve and wash well under running water. Transfer into a large bowl. Add the fenugreek seeds and cover with twice the amount of water. Set aside for about 4-6 hours. As the lentils and rice bloat, you may need to add more water, so please be sure to check.
Blend the soaked rice and dal into a smooth batter of thick, pouring consistency. You may not need all the soaking water, so please be mindful. Transfer the batter into a deep container. Add enough salt to taste and mix well with clean hands. This step is critical to start the fermentation process. Cover loosely with a lid and place the container in an oven with the light on. Depending on the time of year, the batter will take anywhere from 8-24 hours to ferment. The batter is ready when it has increased in volume, has tiny bubbles on the surface and a sour smell to it.
Depending on need, you may freeze portions of the fermented batter for another day.
To make dosas..
Heat a cast iron griddle. Smear a dab of oil evenly on the surface. Pour a ladleful of batter and spread quickly in concentric circles to measure about 6 inches. The thinner it is, the crispier the dosa. Drizzle a bit of oil around the outer edges and flip when the top is dotted with bubbles, just like pancakes. You could fork a piece of raw onion and run it on the griddle between batches to keep the dosas from sticking. Serve hot with chutney (recipe below).
1 cup fresh or dried unsweetened coconut
2 Tbsp. peanuts (optional)
1 coin of fresh ginger
1-2 green chili
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
Juice of half a lime
Salt to taste
Blend the ingredients into a smooth paste, adding water as necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings.