08 January 2013

Masala Dosas

           This is a three part recipe, but well worth it.  You will have fun making the batter, the chutney, and the potato filling.  The potato filling recipe is similar to a previous post, but leaves out the cilantro.  The cilantro coconut chutney is used in this dish instead.  I think you will love it and others will, too.  It is a very unique dish and very tasty.  Vegan and gluten-free, too!

Start by soaking brown basmati rice, urad dal (lentils), chana dal (split chickpeas), and fenugreek seeds overnight.  Then in the morning, or after 6-8 hours, blend into a batter.  Leave out for 12-24 hours, letting the batter ferment.  You can prepare the filling and the chutney while the batter ferments.  Well, go ahead and take a look at this recipe.  I just wanted to let you know what you were getting into.  

Masala Dosa with Potato Onion Filling and Coconut Cilantro Chutney

Dosas are a staple dish in India and many times enjoyed for breakfast. A dosa is essentially a cross between a crepe and a pancake with a slightly more complicated preparation process.  The batter is made from rice, urad dal, chana dal and fenugreek seeds. It is initially soaked, then blended and left to ferment overnight.
Brown basmati was our rice of choice, as white basmati rice tends to result in a runnier batter that does not hold up as well in the cooking process.  The urad dal called for in the recipe was easily substituted for a Spanish Pardina lentil; really any brown lentil would do.
The brown rice and dal combination results in a more complex nutritional profile and flavor than a typical flour-based crepe or pancake. The fermentation process also lends great flavor depth that you don’t get from a traditional crepe or pancake.  It’s also gluten free!
There are a number of different types of dosas and endless combinations of fillings and chutneys. Traditionally a masala dosa is stuffed with a potato filling. This version consists of a potato and onion spiced filling, finished off with a refreshing coconut and cilantro chutney.  The result is a sweet and savory dosa; the caramelized onions and sweet coconut offset the kick from the chilies and ginger.  

Dosas Ingredients:
Yield: 1 Quart of batter, more than 20 thin dosas.  ( Think Party! )

1 cup organic brown basmati rice
½ cup urad dal (lentils)
2 tablespoons chana dal (split chickpeas)
1 ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 cups filtered water
¾ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons mustard oil or sesame oil 

Combine the brown basmati rice, urad dal, chana dal and fenugreek seeds in a bowl. Rinse and scour the mixture two to three times, draining the water each time, till the water is no longer cloudy. Cover the mixture with fresh water and allow it to soak overnight or for at least 6 hours.

After it has soaked drain the mixture and transfer to a high-speed blender.  Start out with adding 1 cup of water and blend on medium speed for till it is all blended, about a minute.  Then slowly add in the other cup of water and blend till it reaches the consistency of a grainy pancake batter.  The batter now needs to ferment overnight, but not for more than 20 hours.

When it is done fermenting, add the salt and determine if you need to add a little more water to thin it out to a pourable consistency.  Once you cook your first dosa you will know if the batter is too thick as it will not lend it self to spread easily.

Heat up the oil in large heavy bottomed pan when your ready to cook the dosa.  Use a ladle to put about a quarter cup of the batter in a pan.  Use the back of the ladle to spread the batter out in a spiraling motion.  There should be some holes in the batter as you spread it out, but be careful of the pan being too hot or it will start to cook quicker than you can spread it. Let it cook for about 3-5 minutes, until the bottom is nicely browned and there is no raw batter visible.  You don’t flip dosas so it is ready to be taken off the pan at this point. 

It is best to assemble the dosas when they are still hot so once you take it off the pan spread a dollop or two of the cilantro chutney in the middle of the dosa and top with about 1/3 cup of the potato onion filling.  Enjoy!

 dosa batter!

Potato Onion Filling

The potato onion filling is simple to make despite the lengthy ingredient list. There are a few ingredients here that you may not have on hand but don’t worry, neither did we.  There are usually simple substitutions that can be made for many ingredients, so don’t ever let a missing ingredient deter you from trying out a recipe.
The mustard seed oil can easily be substituted for safflower oil or any other neutral oil you have on hand.  You can also substitute onion and garlic powder for asafetida.  We accidently ended up adding more mustard seeds than the recipe called for, but our end result was still delicous!

Potato-Onion Filling Ingredients:

4 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes
1 ½ yellow onions, medium dice
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 serrano chili, minced
3 tablespoons mustard seed oil
1/8 teaspoon asafetida
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
4 ounces filtered water
1 teaspoon salt


Wash the potatoes and cut into quarters.  Boil them in a pot of water till they are soft, but not falling apart, about 30 minutes or so.  When they are done cooking, drain them and set them aside to cool.
While the potatoes are cooking chop the onion, mince the Serrano and grate the ginger.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle peel off the skin and chop into fairly large chunks.
Heat up the oil in a heavy bottomed pan.  Add in the mustard seeds and let them cook for a few minutes till they start to pop.  As soon as they begin to pop, add in the onion and cook until they get nice and soft, about 10 minutes. Then add in the ginger and Serrano and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add in the potatoes, tumeric, salt and water. Stir it around and let it simmer until the water evaporates and the potatoes begin to fall apart.

 boiling potatoes!
 finished potato onion filling

Cilantro Coconut Chutney

The coconut and cilantro chutney is the perfect finishing touch for the dosa.  Though a vitamix would be ideal for this recipe, any high speed blender will do, you may just have to blend it a little bit longer to get the consistency you want.
The shredded coconut in the recipe can be obtained a couple of different ways.  Either from a mature coconut, a young coconut or the unsweetened shredded coconut you can find in the store. Each will result in a little different outcome.  We used a young coconut, so our finished product had a very smooth consistency.  If you use a mature coconut or the shredded coconut, your chutney will have a bit more texture but will still be equally as delicious!

Coconut and Cilantro Chutney Ingredients:
Yield: 1 ½ cup

1 ½ tablespoons chana dal
2 tablespoons oil for frying
1 to 2 serrano chilis, minced
½ cup packed cilantro, chopped
4 ounces filtered water
6 ounces freshly shredded coconut (approximately ½ of a coconut)
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ ounces lemon juice

Heat up the oil in a pan and add in the chana dal.  Fry the dal till it turns a reddish brown color then remove the dal from the oil and let them cool.
Add the chana dal, cilantro, Serrano chili and water to the blender. Blend on high until it is all combined.  Then add in the coconut, salt and lemon juice. Blend until it reaches the consistency you would like. Be sure to taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.

 potato onion filling mise en place (prepped ingredients) 

 chana dal (split chickpea) frying in the skillet

  a folded, filled dosa and a dosa waiting for filling!

  note the bubbles on the dosa, from the fermentation process

 a dosa in the skillet!  

1 comment:

  1. Hi Brian, Just ran across your email from last August (2012!) linking to your blog. Looking at the recipes you've posted, my mouth is watering.

    You'll be surprised to know I ate at Casa de Luz on Dec. 29. I was visiting friends who live in Austin and they recommended it to me. I asked the cashier if you were there but she didn't know you.

    Wondering if I'll see you at French Meadows in July. It's one of the highlights of my year.

    Wishing you well, Kathy Keller