These are a form of savoury pancake originating in South India. This is a lazy westernised version of the recipe, avoiding long hours of soaking and grinding grains together with water with a mortar and pestle.

It can be a touch tricky getting the batter consistency OK - begin thicker rather than thinner and adjust slowly. The batter from hand-ground flour is also a touch sturdier - it can be worth adding a little roughage, as bran or oatbran, or a little wholemeal flour to generate some "tooth" in the mix. Not too much.

Also, the improvement in texture from just few hours maturing is considerable.

You will need

1 cup Urad Flour (Haven't tried other dal flours, but at least two recipes insist on this and no other. Obtainable from most bulkfood shops and Indian groceries.)
3 cups Rice Flour (Some recipes use wheat flour, but this can get leathery. The rice flour contributes the crispness, the urad flour the flexibility. Together they help to make up a complete protein.)
2 heaped dessertspoons Oat bran or wheat bran
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Baking Powder, depending on time spent souring. More souring, less bp.
1 teaspoon Salt
2 tbsp Plain unsweetened Yoghurt
1 tbsp Ground Fenugreek. (This ingredient disqualifies the dosai from containing any sweet filling. I suspect that a teaspoon of, say, cardamom, instead would enable the choice of a sweet filling. Watch this space. Yes it does. Not in the same class as galettes or blini, but sturdy and palatable.)
1 litre Lukewarm Water
  1. Combine all ingredients, and add water to make a medium batter. Use a blender to get it smooth as there is very little gluten in these flours and it is difficult to overwork them. It is better to err initially on the side of a thick batter, as a little more water can be added easily. I start with 1 litre of water for the above ingredient list and add more if necessary at cooking time, when a little experiment will tell you whether the batter is performing or not.

    Leave in warm place for 5-8 hours to sour slightly. If you are in a hurry, add a a teaspoon of baking powder, but you will miss the slightly sour tangy quality that aging the batter will produce, and the body of the dosai can be a bit fragile. Once the batter has soured you can store it in the fridge for a day or so.

  2. Oil a heavy base frying pan thinly, and heat until first smoke. (Peanut Oil or Sesame Oil will contribute extra flavour, but ordinary oil will do. I prefer Grapeseed Oil or Olive Oil or Rice Bran Oil as they stand high temperatures well.)

  1. Turn heat back to about 6 - 7 (out of 12) Place about a quarter cupful or so of batter in the middle of the pan and use the bottom of a ladle in concentric circles to thin it out. If your pan is hot enough, the dosa will immediately erupt into steam craters like these.

If not, or if the batter is too thick it will simply sit, go leathery and stick to the bottom of the pan. Major cleaning and re-heating job. Try increasing the heat first of all, and if that doesn't do the trick, add a tablespoon of water or so to the batter, mix and test a small amount in the pan. Maybe try another tablespoon of water. Add extra water in very small amounts.

Cover pan with a flat lid of some sort to contain the steam which contributes to the partial cooking of the top of the dosa.

  1. You should notice a small spurt of steam from under the lid after about 30 seconds, as the water from the base of the dosa is driven off. When you take the lid off, the upper surface of the dosai will be slightly leathery, cooked briefly in the steam enclosed in the pan.

  1. Slide a metal spatula or fish slice under the dosa and turn it, giving the bottom of the pan a quick wipe with an oiled paper towel to grease it lightly. The upturned base should look something like this. Replace the lid and cook for about 30 - 60 seconds, until the underside is well spotted with golden brown, (but not black!!)

  1. You will have a crispy dosa that is still flexible enough to roll around a filling. You can either prepare a substantial filling, or a dryish dal, or simply sprinkle cheese/cottage cheese, and/or chutney or pickle over half or all of the surface. I like a fruity tomato chutney with a thin wipe of mild lime pickle or blue cheese across the other side of the dosa. Roll it up and eat it. You can keep several pans going at once, if you are sufficiently athletic, and if you aren't filling and eating the dosai yourself.









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