Monday, August 13, 2007

masala dosas

When I first became interested in South Indian cuisine, I thought a special dal grinder was needed in order to make dishes like dosa, idly and utthapam. Thankfully, I discovered that all you need is a regular blender. Since urad dal is soaked for several hours first, it actually gets quite soft from the water and grinds up easily without any fancy equipment.
My favorite dosa recipe, is just soaked and ground urad dal with fenugreek seeds and salt which is added to rice flour and water and left to ferment overnight. The rice flour lends the perfect grainy quality to the batter, and is so much easier than having to soak and grind dry rice, which is how they're traditionally made.

Dosa making in action! With dancing and antics!

dosa batter
1 cup urad dal (split with no skin)
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 cup water (to grind with dal)
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups white rice flour
3 cups water (to mix with rice flour)

soak the urad dal and fenukgreek in plenty of water for three hours and drain. grind the dal/fenugreek with 1/2 cup of water and the salt in a blender until very smooth. measure the white rice flour into a large bowl and stir in three cups of water and the smooth dal puree. leave to rest overnight (cover with a kitchen towel if you like). chill in the morning if you're not going to use it right away, and bring it back to room temperature before you use it.

to make the dosa, use a well seasoned cast iron grill and cut an onion in half. using a fork, pierce the onion with the cut side down, and wipe the cut onion side all over the hot griddle. the onion will season the grill and prevent the dosa from sticking. it sounds crazy, but this really works and your dosa won't stick if you do it! measure a big ladleful of batter and pour it into the center of your hot grill. starting in the center of your batter, with a large spoon, quickly spread the batter out with the back of the spoon in circles that get progressively bigger and bigger. this will spread the dosa batter out evenly and thinly. let cook for about 2-3 minutes, and flip when brown. cook the other side for a couple of minutes and then fill with potato masala, coconut chutney and cilantro yogurt sauce. utthapam can be made out of the same batter, just make them like thick pancakes and add veggies like green chilies, chopped onion, tomatoes and fresh cilantro.

Here's the finished outcome: coconut chutney (fresh coconut, jalapeno, salt and cilantro), a bowl of sambar and the plated dosa smothered in yogurt sauce (unsweetened plain soy yogurt, cilantro, salt, and lemon juice) with coconut on the side.

Potato masala is for another post, but it's just cubed potatoes that are boiled till tender. Then fry up a few tablespoons of chana dal (and raw cashews if you want), add in some curry leaves and mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add in sliced onions, minced chili and ginger. Sprinkle in some turmeric for color, salt to taste--maybe a bit of lemon juice and some frozen peas. Add in 1/3 cup of water and stir it all up. Cook until it comes together. One scoop in the middle of each dosa should do it... So good!



  1. oh. my. god.
    it's 8 am and i'm craving indian food. you are incredible! where's your damn cape?

  2. Yay! Awesome video. I can feel the vibe of your household from here, and it rules. I am digging your new blog. I've been straying to blogspot and talkin' bout my knitting a lot. :)

  3. hey kittee it's ray ray and i just wanted to say that you're very impressive and i think it's awesome that you made dosa and in the june vegnews they had a feature called 'dosa,your new favourite food' and it's recipes,but they say dosa is too complicated to make and to just use flour tortillas which is totally lame and stupid especially when people like you are actually making them.awesome.

  4. vegan dreams! dosa is delicious. thank you for sharing secrets.

  5. kittee's a dance- dance- dancing machine!

  6. I prefer your Ethiopian dance, and I have a better video of you doing... although I think alcohol was involved in that instance. Anyways... I love your new blog, and I also love your dosa's. Thanks for the recipe, but I don't wanna make em. Can you just come over and make em for me? Pretty please? Hey, it's going to be my birthday soon! I should get whatever I want! Oh... and can you bring them to me in bed, and feed em to me too?

  7. The onion trick sounds awesome and if I hadn't seen the ease of dosa flipping with my own eyes, I might not have felt brave enough to try making em myself. Yah for videos! (And oh, Kittee, you and your dance are so adorable. So glad to see you blogging!)

  8. Hiya Kittee,

    I never knew you were a dosamaker !

    I just put up a 1001 Dosas in

    /Happy cooking

  9. Thank you for the dosa recipes and info. I had a friend from south india who I used to make these with - that was about 20 years ago (I think I'm close to your age). I always loved the food, but at the time it seemed daunting and I found boxed dosa mix at indian markets in the past and occasionally I'd try to make them. So great to get a recipe and realize it's not so difficult to make these and other wonderful goodies from other cultures (yay for the internet and food blogs!). I've also found dosa batter recently the refrigerated area of some indian markets, but I think the homemade batter is better, but it's nice to be able to pick it up for something quick sometimes. I wanted to ask if you ever make sambar? My friend Prabha also made it and told me how much she loved it as a child and would come home for lunch form school and always had her sambar/soup. Would enjoy a sambhar recipe from you :)

    1. Hi Jen!
      I do love sambar. SO MUCH! But I usually follow recipes for it. I think the one I make most often is from Dakshin.



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