Tuesday, January 5, 2010
When my mother took my brother and I to live with her in India, we were your typical food phobic children. Never having so much as had a curry back in the U.S., I was not buying into the idea that Indian cuisine was edible. I stubbornly resisted eating anything Indian for quite a while. I survived off imported Kit-Kat bars, Masala Lays and Fanta orange soda.
You wouldn't think that would be great diet for weight loss, but wow did it strip off what few pounds I had to my frame back then. Maybe I should pursue a career as a diet guru? Ms. Humble's Kit-Kat-Spicy Chip diet! 10 weeks to a more emaciated you! You know, I bet that diet book would actually sell.
Anyway, eventually hunger got the best of me and those strange dishes were beginning to look appealing. The simple Masala Dosas was the first thing to break my Indian food fast and after that, there was no turning back...
Once I moved back to the U.S. it was hard to find my favorite foods, particularly the southern Indian dishes. It would be years before I actually tried making dosas. Urad dal typically isn't something one can find at your corner grocer, but most Indian food stores have it on their shelves. In fact, your local Indian or Pakistani market can be a great place to stock up on all your rice, grains, flours and legumes in bulk.
Dosas, for those unfamiliar, are essentially a light, crispy crepe. Dosas stuffed with spiced potatoes are probably one of the most common forms of this dish, but really they can be filled with just about anything. Best of all, with a Cuisinart (or similar food processor) the dosa is very easy to make.
Not so Humble Masala Dosa:
makes roughly a dozen
1 1/2 cups dry basmati rice
1/2 cup dry urad dal
1/4 of a large yellow onion
1 teaspoon minced green chili
salt to taste
Place the urad dal and basmati in two separate bowls and cover with several inches of water. Cover and allow the bowls to sit out at room temperature at least overnight and up to one day.
In the morning, drain and rinse the rice and dal and add to your food processor. Grind the two together into a paste, add the onion and chili and salt (about 1/4 teaspoon) and continue to grind. Start adding water to the mixture, until you get a smooth creamy and slightly thin batter (just a tad thinner than your typical pancake batter). Continue to mix this in the processor until you can rub it between your fingers and the grit remaining should be a little finer than cream of wheat.
Heat a large flat, oiled griddle over medium high heat, or your largest flat bottom non stick pan. Pour 1/2-3/4 cup of batter into the center of the griddle and working quickly with a large spoon or heat safe silicon spatula, swirl the batter outwards into a very thin flat pancake. The thinner the better. Don't be too concerned about holes or getting it perfectly round, just focus on spreading it thin.
Cook the dosa until the underside is golden brown and the top is no longer glossy. This will only take a few minutes and do not flip the dosa. If your dosa seems a little thick, too chewy or not quite crispy enough, blend the batter again and add a little more water.
Remove the dosa from the pan and fill with several tablespoons of the following potato filling and a little squeeze of sriracha. Roll up and serve immediately with sambhar or your favorite chutney.
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (ideally black mustard seed)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
1-2 green chilies minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
salt to taste
Boil the cubed potatoes until fork tender, drain and set aside.
Heat the oil over medium high heat and add the mustard and cumin seeds. They will begin to pop and shoot all over your kitchen within a few seconds so have the chopped onion ready to go. Once the mustard starts to pop, add the onion and green chili, sauteing for a couple minutes. Add the ground cumin and coriander and mix, gently stir in the cubed potatoes as you don't want to turn them to mashed potatoes. Add the turmeric, garam masala, chopped cilantro and mix well. Add a little water (~1/4 cup) to thin the mixture and salt to taste.