I arrived home from India weighed down with white lentils and beaten rice which are essential ingredients for making Southern India’s most prized dish, Masala Dosa. Lovely Samita taught us how to make this dish at the Lotus Oasis Retreat in Goa. In India “A guest is God” (Atithi Devo Bhawa) for 3 days upon arriving! Treat your guests as “God” with this incredible dish!
These authentic ingredients can be found in Indian Grocery stores, however; you can make a dosa (which is the pancake part of this dish) with regular rice and red lentils. The beaten rice which looks like rice that has been pounded or flattened is called Poha and the white lentils are known as Besan.
The batter is fermented before spread thinly on a hot griddle and is then filled with curried potatoes. Cilantro and coconut chutneys are served on the side. The pancake is traditionally very thin, however; you can spread it a little thicker to create more of a chapati type bread that you can wrap just about anything in! Fermenting the batter on your counter top for 24-36 hours makes the resulting pancake easily digestible and gluten free! Just remember to soak the rice and lentils two days prior to serving.
To Make the Dosa:
*If you are using regular rice and lentils, I would suggest 3 parts basmati rice to 1 part red lentils. If you have the authentic ingredients the recipe is as follows:
- 2 cups white basmati rice soaked in water on your counter top in water overnight
- 1 cup of beaten rice (Poha) soaked in water on your counter top overnight
- 1 cup white lentils (Besan) soaked in water on your counter top over night
- 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds soaked in water overnight
Drain all of the ingredients. Combine the the soaked basmati, Poha, Besan, and fenugreek in a high speed blender with enough water to blend to a very smooth paste. It should be the thickness of pancake batter.
Pour the batter into a bowl and then cover on your kitchen counter with a clean tea towel. Let it ferment overnight. Once it is fermented it will begin to look slightly bubbly and will have a lighter fluffier texture. Add 1 tsp. of pink himalayan salt.
Prepare the curried potato filling before cooking the dosas.
- 2 Tbsp. of vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
- 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- a pinch of asafoetida (opt.)
- 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped, including seeds
- 1/2 turmeric powder
- a pinch of red chill flakes
- 1 tsp. of pink himalayan salt
- 3 large potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled or steamed until tender but firm.
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- lots of freshly chopped cilantro
Heat the oil in a fry pan. Add the mustard seeds, stirring constantly until they begin to pop. Add the onion, asafoetida if using, chopped jalapeño, turmeric, chilis, salt, and cooked potato. Stir well to coat the potato cubes with all of the spices. Add the lemon juice and lastly the garam masala and chopped cilantro. Taste to adjust saltiness and spiciness!
To Cook the Dosa:
I like to use an electric grill to make the dosas however you can use a crepe pan or a regular fry pan. A seasoned cast iron fry pan works really well. Heat your grill or frypan over medium heat.
Spoon the batter into the pan in a circular motion to form a disc that is about 6 inches in diameter.
With the back of a large spoon smooth out the disc until it is very thin if you want a crispy dosa, or thicker to make it more chapati-like. Drizzle a little bit of oil on top. Allow it to cook without flipping for 3 minutes or until it begins to brown slightly. Spoon the potato masala into the middle of the dosa and then wrap the edges around the filling as you would a burrito. With a spatula transfer the dosa to a plate. Serve with Cilantro and Coconut Chutneys.
*extra cooked dosas if made on the thicker side will last a few days in the fridge. The batter can be kept in the fridge for 2 or 3 days as well.
Cilantro mint chutney:
- 1 cup of fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup fresh mint
- 1/2 in piece of ginger, finely grated
- 1/2 seeded jalapeño pepper, chopped
- 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp. of honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. himalayan pink salt
Blend all ingredients in your blender until smooth. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Will last 2-3 days.
This chutney is traditionally made with freshly grated coconut. I used dried and it is equally as delicious!
- 1/2 cup of unsweetened dried shredded coconut
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. pink himalayan salt
- juice of one lime
- enough canned coconut milk to blend to a thick paste
Process all ingredients in a food processor until well mixed. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.