Masala Dosa is a paper-thin crispy pancake made from rice & lentils, flavoured with fenugreek, and filled with spicy potatoes, onion and ginger. I had my first one in Rasa, Das Sreedharan’s wonderfully authentic South Indian restaurant in Stoke Newington, and was immediately hooked. My affection for this humble dish reached its pinnacle in Kerela, in a train station restaurant, where it produced an out-of-body experience. After that no dosa really compared, so I stopped eating them.
A decade has passed and although the memory is still vivid, the specifics of the texture, taste and aroma have dimmed enough to give a new relationship a chance.
Rasa is no longer on my doorstep, so I have to go with the next best thing; Das’s Masala Dosa recipe from his Fresh Flavours of India Cookbook. My first attempt, although short on mind projecting qualities, was never-the-less pretty successful. I will perfect it over the next few weeks before launching it as a new mid-week pub special in The Guildford Arms. My aim is to produce a wonderfully fragrant and filling dish; something to warm away the winter blues; something for under a fiver; but if I can give anyone an out-of-body experience then that is just a bonus.
Dosa Masala – serves 6
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
20 curry leaves
2 green chilli – finely sliced
2 onions – finely sliced
1 tomato – chopped
1/2 inch ginger – peeled & finely diced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- Cover the whole potatoes in cold water & bring to the boil. Simmer until tender but still intact. When the potatoes are cooked drain &, when cool enough to handle, peel them, then return to the sauce pan & mash.
- In the meantime heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the mustard seeds and, as they begin to pop, the curry leaves & chilli and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the onions and cook over a medium heat until they turn golden.
- Add the tomato, ginger, turmeric & salt.
- Stir & cook for 5 minutes over a low heat.
- Add the potatoes, stir thoroughly and cook over a low heat for 3 to 4 minutes.
295g long grain rice
75g urad dal
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
oil for frying
- Soak the rice for at least 8 hours in 700ml of water.
- Soak the rice & fenugreek in a separate bowl in 700ml of water.
- Drain the rice & dhal, keeping them separate.
- Place rice in blender & grind for 3 minutes, slowly adding 125ml of water to give a smooth paste.
- Pour paste in a clean bowl.
- Rinse out blender & grind dhal for 5 minutes, slowly adding 4 tablespoons of water to give a paste.
- Mix the dal into the rice, add a few pinches of salt & stir together.
- Cover with a damp cloth & leave in a warm place for 12 hours to ferment. The batter should rise and contain lots of small bubbles.
- When ready to cook add a little water to achieve a pouring consistency similar to double cream.
- Heat a large pan. Lightly grease the pan with oil. Pour in a ladle of batter, using the bottom of the ladle to spread the batter with a spiral motion.
- Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the bottom is crisp & golden.
- Place the hot filling on the uncooked side, fold & serve with sambal & coconut chutney.