Most South Indian cooks have a pot full of dosa batter sitting in their refrigerators which they can pull out at any time to make a quick and nutritious breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner. Dosas cook pretty quickly on the skillet so in no time at all one can have a pile of hot, steaming crepes ready to eat.
And making a dosa batter itself is not difficult, although it does require some soaking time to let the rice and lentils soften so once they are ground up into the batter they can cook quickly on the skillet. I like making quick dosas such as my moong dosa or coriander adai because they require even less soaking time than a regular dosa. But when I get the craving for a traditional dosa, I have a foolproof batter that's ready in about 4 hours. Not bad.
This time, I wanted to make my foolproof batter healthier by using brown rice instead of white, which I usually use. I have used brown rice in dosa batters before but I find it usually requires more soaking time. While wondering this past weekend, late in the afternoon, how I could get my dosa batter ready for dinner, I had a brainwave. Parboiled rice.
Now before some of you seasoned cooks out there scream, hey, that's what Indian cooks usually use for dosa, hear me out. I am not talking about the parboiled rice you can buy off the shelf. Instead, I thought I'd parboil my brown rice for a few minutes and then soak it with the lentils, reducing the total soaking time. Get it?
So that's what I did, and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. I needed just five hours of soaking time and the dosas themselves were perfect-- I spread them thin and they were crispy around the edges and delicious with the nutty flavor of brown rice.
Here's the recipe. Enjoy, all!
Brown Rice Dosas
2 cups brown rice
1/2 cup poha (flattened rice). You can get a brown-rice version of this in Indian stores too.
2 tbsp chana dal (bengal gram dal)
1/2 cup udad dal (black gram dal)
1/2 tsp methi seeds
Salt to taste
Cover the brown rice with water in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke it for five minutes.
Allow the rice to sit in the hot water for another half an hour.
Now add the rice to the remaining ingredients, along with the water. Add more water to cover the lentils and rice. Allow them to soak for at least 5 hours and more if you have the time. Drain.
Blend the rice-dal mixture, in several batches, adding enough water to make a smooth batter that's runny enough to spread into a crepe, but thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Heat a cast-iron or non-stick griddle. The griddle should be hot enough that when you sprinkle a few drops of water on it, they sizzle and evaporate.
Using a ladle with a rounded bottom, pour some batter into the center of the griddle and, in a quick but smooth motion, spread outward in circles. Don't be afraid if you make holes: just add a small drop of batter to patch it. If your dosa does not spread smoothly, it's possible your ladle is hot. Turn off or lower the heat, and try again.
Pour a few drops of oil around the dosa's edges to help it crisp up. Once the underside is golden brown, loosen the dosa gently from the skillet and flip over. If your griddle was hot enough to begin with, this step will be very, very easy.
Cook the other side for a few seconds, giving more time if your dosa is thicker. Serve hot with some sambar or chutney or both.
Because I was pressed for time, I served the dosas with this super-simple chutney that requires just four ingredients but tastes just divine.
Easy Coriander Chutney
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves and stems
1/2 cup coconut milk
A few drops of lemon juice
Salt to taste
Just give everything a whir in the blender until the cilantro is completely broken down. Check salt and serve with the dosas.
Desi and I are being tourists in our own city this week. There isn't a better place to live in than Washington if you want to do that-- the city's filled with great buildings, monuments and the most amazing museums and almost all of it is free.
Yesterday we were at the Museum of American History which is home to everything from Dorothy's ruby slippers from the "Wizard of Oz" to Julia Child's entire kitchen from her home in Massachusetts. It was the setting for almost all her television shows.
As we left the museum, exhausted, we caught this glimpse of the Washington monument, ethereal in the twilight.