Let’s do dosa!

Though one does find the occasional thela-wala (cart vendor) selling dosas, dosas are not really “street food” as described in the tag line and are more readily available in South Indian restaurants, big and small. However, that little quibble apart, the book with 50 recipes for a master batter and fillings, chutneys and even cocktails to serve alongside, shows one how to get creative with dosas, “ranked number four on the Huffington Post’s list of 10 foods around the world to try before you die” as Nash Patel reveals. There’s also a fun story about how the couple behind the book set up Dosa Kitchen in a little blue trailer – think Saif Ali Khan in Chef!


Classic Dosa Batter

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 1 cup split urad dal
  • 3 tablespoons chana dal
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2½ tsp sea salt

Place the rice in a large bowl and rinse with two or three changes of water, until the water is just about clear. Cover with water by about 3 inches.

Place the urad dal, chana dal and fenugreek seeds in a medium bowl and rinse with two or three changes of water, until the water is just about clear. Cover with water by about 3 inches.

Cover both bowls with dish towels or loose-fitting lids and set aside, 4-8 hours.

Drain the rice, reserving the soaking water. Drain the dals and discard the soaking water.

Transfer the rice to a blender and add ½ cup of the reserved rice soaking water. Start blending on low speed and slowly add another ½ cup water through the hole in the lid while increasing the speed of the blender to high. Blend until the rice mixture is mostly smooth but still a bit grainy and the consistency of thick pancake batter, 2 to 3 minutes total. Add more of the reserved rice soaking water, about 2 tbsp at a time to keep the blender moving, keeping in mind that the less water you add, the thicker the batter will rise. Transfer the batter to a nonreactive bowl that holds at least 4 quarts.

Put the dal in the blender, add 1 cup of the reserved rice soaking water and blend until completely smooth, starting on low speed and increasing speed as the dal starts to break down, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add more reserved rice soaking water, about 2 tbsp at a time, as needed. Add the dal to the blended rice and with clean hands, thoroughly combine the two mixtures into a batter.

Cover the batter with a clean dish towel or loose-fitting lid, put it on a baking sheet (to catch potential bubbling over), and place it in a warm spot for 8 to 12 hours, until the batter is thick and foamy, nearly doubled in volume, and smells slightly sour.

In a liquid measuring cup dissolve the salt into 1 cup water, then pour it over the batter and whisk it in, breaking up any hardened top layer that might have formed. Transfer to a large nonreactive container, cover, and refrigerate for at least two hours before making your dosas.

Onion and Chilli Dosa Pancake

  • 2 cups dosa batter
  • ¾ cup chopped red onion
  • 2-4 fresh green chillies, to taste, finely chopped
  • Melted coconut oil, sunflower oil or ghee
  • Chutney of choice
  • Sambar (optional)

Heat a dosa pan over medium-high heat. Pour 1 cup of the dosa batter into the centre of the ungreased pan. If the batter doesn’t spread out to fill the pan on its own, hold the handle and swirl the batter until it completely coats the bottom. Immediately scatter half the onions and chillies over the pancake. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes, until the ingredients are set into the dosa and the bottom is lightly browned.

Add oil from a squeeze bottle, then flip and cook until the second side is lightly browned, about 3 minutes more. Flip the uttapam onto a plate and repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve with chutney and sambar, if you like, alongside.

Peanut Chutney

  • 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 to 2 fresh green chillies, to taste, stemmed and halved lengthwise.
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1½ tsp tamarind purée
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri chile powder
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp split urad dal
  • Handful of fresh curry leaves

Melt 2 tsp oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When it is shimmering, add the cherry tomatoes, green chillies and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes, until the tomatoes are just slightly softened and browned. Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the peanuts, tamarind, chile powder, salt and ½ cup water and blend until mostly smooth but with a little texture from the peanuts remaining, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed and adding more water if needed. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. One immediately after the next, add the spices without stirring. First the mustard seeds (they will start to pop), followed by the cumin seeds, urad dal and curry leaves. Let the cumin seeds, urad dal and curry leaves darken a couple of shades without burning. Remove from the heat and stir the spice mixture into the peanut mixture. Taste, and add more salt as needed. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

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