Thursday, June 23

Masala Dosa - South Indian Crispy Rice Pancake

A dosa is an Indian rice pancake - a common South Indian breakfast or lunch dish, but not common at all in UK curry houses.   This is a quick dish to make and very very cheap - maybe £1 per portion.   The main effort will be to find an Indian grocers to get curry leaves and Dosa mix.   It may seem like cheating to use a ready mix, but Dosa flour is a bit of an effort to make and this dish tastes so great, who cares.    I use the 'Gits' brand that I have seen in just about every Indian supermarket (for reference I got mine at Bristol Sweet Mart)

As with many things in life, the bigger your Dosa, the more your partner will be impressed.   The ones I ate in India were 50cm in diameter, but you will be limited by the size of your frying pan.   You need a really good non-stick pan to make these (see my frying pan advice on my Chang Mai noodle recipe?).   For 4 people:

Floury potato such as Maris Piper - 3 to 4 large ones
Ghee, melted butter - 4 tbsp (use veg oil here if you want a vegan outcome)
Vegetable oil for frying the Dosa
Black mustard seeds - 1 tbsp
Fresh curry leaves - 1 small handful
Onion, finely diced - 1 medium
Garlic, crushed - 3 cloves
Fresh ginger, grated - a thumb sized piece
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Salt and black pepper to taste
Dosa batter, made up as per instructions - 1 packet

Microwave the potatoes until cooked, allow to cool a little and scoop out the flesh discarding the skins.   In the oil or butter, fry onion, the black mustard seeds and curry leaves until fragrant, they will pop and crackle a bit.   Toss in the garlic and fry until golden.    Add the ginger and fry for a further minute before adding in the turmeric, potato and seasoning.  Mix well mashing the potato a bit as you go.   You should end up with a lumpy yellow mash speckled with the onion and spices.   Taste and season again if necessary.

Heat you pan and add a good glug of veg oil.   Swirl around the pan to coat then add a ladle full off batter mix.   Shake the pan to evenly coat the base.    You can add more batter mix if necessary but try to get dosa as thin as possible.   Put the pan over a high heat.   Once the batter has solidified, sprinkle the dosa liberally with a more oil and continue to cook until the underside is golden brown.   Don’t be tempted to try and free the dosa until it is golden brown or it will fall to bits, it should pop off the base of the pan when it is ready.

Remove the dosa to a plate cooked side down.   Place ¼ of the potato mix off centre on the pancake and roll the pancake loosely so that the join is underneath and the weight of the potato mix holds the pancake in a roll.   It should look like a big tube with a small amount of filling in the middle and the filling should not touch the top of the tube.

This method of cooking means that you will be serving one dosa at a time.  Before you stuff and roll the dosa, you can keep the pancakes warm in the oven then stuff and serve all at once.   However you may find it difficult to roll them – just so you know, it is acceptable to just fold the dosa over the potato mix which is much easier!

Masala dosa is traditionally served with a curry gravy called a sambar, but I prefer this with a sliced onion & tomato salad and a home made chutney for which I have provided some recipes for you to try.   

Now get stuck in.   Ruin your shirt by breaking bits off the dosa and scooping up the potato curry and chutney – you are guaranteed to get it all down you!!

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