Classic Masala Dosa

(4 Servings)

Prep time: 14 hours (includes fermentation time)
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 15 hours

I have always been intimidated with making Indian crepes or Dosas because it needs planning and timing to get right. You need to plan ahead as the rice and lentils need to be soaked before grinding to a paste and then fermented, ideally overnight. The filling for the Dosa can be made in advance as needed and refrigerated. The same goes for the batter. So basically once these are ready and refrigerated you can whip up a Dosa fairly quickly whenever you want. Dosas can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack time or dinner! Yup that’s right, basically it’s Dosa time anytime. I decided I had to try making these crispy crepes even if it meant failure but was pleasantly surprised with how relatively easy it was. With a little bit of planning ahead of time you can look like a total pro in front of family and friends!

Ingredients

For the Dosa batter:
  • 2 cups rice (short grain)
  • 1/2 cup whole Urad Dal (without skin) or split urad dal
  • 3/4 tablespoon Chana dal (gram lentil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 4 cups water
For the potato filling:
  • 1 large russet potato boiled and peeled and roughly mashed
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 no. Dried red chili
  • 6 no. Curry leaves
  • 2 no. Large garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger chopped
  • 1 Greek chilli deseeded and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • Ghee or vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

For the Dosa batter

Rinse and wash the rice, lentils and fenugreek seeds well and place the rice in a bowl and the lentils and fenugreek in a separate bowl. Soak in water and set aside for 4 to 6 hours. 

Drain the water and separately purée the rice and the lentil fenugreek mix in a food processor. You may need to add a little water and grind as needed to get the right consistency for the paste. The rice paste will remain slightly course whereas the lentil fenugreek mix will be very smooth. Combine the two pastes in a bowl and whisk well. Add about 3 and a 1/2 cups of water to obtain a medium thick batter. The total should be about 6 cups. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place to ferment.

This will take about 8 hours or until you see small bubbles on the surface. Stir in salt to taste and mix well. While the batter is fermenting you can time when you make the potato filling. It can also be made in advance and refrigerated.

For the potato filling

Add 3 tablespoon ghee or oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves and sauté till mustard seeds start popping. Now add the dried red chili, chopped green chili and onion and sauté till onions has turned golden brown. Add in some salt while the onions are cooking to let them sweat. Add ginger, garlic, spices and sauté for about a minute. Now add the potatoes and mix well till the potatoes are evenly coated. Adding a little water helps to mix the potatoes well. Top with fresh cilantro and set aside.

Making the Dosa

Set a griddle or crepe plate over medium high heat. Spread a little ghee evenly on the griddle.

Tip: to do this I use a trick I learnt watching street vendors in Mumbai make dosas. Take a small onion and cut in half. Pierce the curved end with a fork. Now dip the flat end in ghee and use to spread on the griddle. This not only spreads the ghee evenly but also adds a little of the onion flavor to the dosa!

Use a ladle to to mix the batter well and pour on the center of pan. Quickly spread the batter outwards in a circular motion using the flat end of a steel cup. Watch a few videos online to see how it’s done! Let the Dosa brown on one side . About 2 minutes. Slowly using a spatula lift the edges to make sure the Dosa can be lifted off the pan. Add a little potato filling (about 2 tablespoon) to the center of the Dosa and fold the Dosa around the potato filling making a cylindrical shape or leave it face open its your choice. Serve with tomato chutney (recipe here).

Note: similar to French crepes Indian dosas can be tried with a variety of fillings. Add cheese, chicken or paneer to get more creative!

 

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