Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The God of simple food: Dosai

The Dosai or the Indian Rice Pancakes (Indisches Reispfannkuchen) is one of the most important innovations that has been probably passed down since the time of cooking itself. Rice and lentils were in abundance in ancient India (oh, so it is now, take a look at 1kg for 1 Rupee :P) and so one can only imagine how the magnificent dosai came into existence. Living in India with parents, we always look upon dosai as the tasty miracle conjured by mothers in an attempt to fulfill the undying appetite. Mothers are kind and they would propose that we should eat them hot as soon as she prepares and that would only after sometime lead to frustrated looks and the statement that she needs to have the batter to feed others in the family! But the moment we guys move away from dear India (only to miss India more), we start to miss dosai. Yes, the lucky ones in America have Saravana Bhavan, but in Europe, Indian food is always the North Indian Punjabi cuisine. I have absolutely nothing against it, just an observation! And yes, we start to crave for the simple yet godly dosai.

For quite some years (4 to be precise), I have never attempted to may my own dosai. I have of course purchased the instant MRT dosai mix and scribbled away on the pan, making no where near round dosai and feeling proud that I have still not grown up. But as craving increase, one has to step up. Unless you take care about yourself, no one else is going to! So I began my dosai making and frankly, I have never felt so happy and satisfied. And oh, it is simple. Long live Bachelors !!!

Break the rules or Strictly No Rules (Thala!!!!!). I have made dosai with (a) Raw rice (b) Par boiled rice and (c) Basmati rice. And I have not let the batter ferment for a few hours. But still, the dosai is as tasty as it can get!! 

Rice ( par boiled/raw/basmati) - 2 cups
Urad dhal - 1/4 cup
Fenugreek seeds (optional) - count of 5 to 10 (just a little little, I like a strong flavor and so I added one table spoon)

Soak the Rice, Urad dhal and fenugreek seeds for 8 hours. The easiest way is to just soak it overnight and wake up just a few steps before the most satisfying breakfast! Drain the water and transfer the contents to a blender. I used a hand held blender and it does the job to satisfaction. So, if you have a bigger powerful one, you are guaranteed to have a better batter. Blend until smooth. Add water to aid in blending and to reach the consistency. It is a bit tough to describe the consistency with words, but all I can say is that, neither too thick nor too thin. It is always to start with a thicker batter and slowly add water and blend more to reach the best consistency. Add the required salt at this stage. Dosai perfectionists would prefer to wait until this batter ferments. Living in Germany, I can only dream that it would ferment when left outside. But still, if you prefer, you can pre heat your oven for sometime, switch off the oven, wait for 2-3 minutes and then place the batter inside for a few hours! But oh, who has the patience?! Once you smell batter that is ready at hand, it is impossible to resist making dosai from it.

Place a non stick pan on medium heat. Pour 1 - 2 ladles of the dosai batter and spread gingerly without applying too much pressure. Sprinkle finely chopped onions (optional), add a table spoon of oil around the dosai and wait for few minutes until one side is golden brown. Flip over and let the side with onions cook for a minute or two. Eat hot with chutney, sambar, yogurt, gun powder, yesterdays rasam, todays rasam, pickle, etc. !!!!

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