Dosai, Dosa etc…The South Indian Series

After recently posting a couple of pictures of a Sunday morning batch of ‘Dosais’, on social media, I have been pleasantly surprised by the avalanche of amazing responses. This makes one thing clear, South Indian food is definitely happening in Mauritius! And I strongly feel that, curious as well as seasoned palates all want to refresh their dinner tables with some exotic fare. Then, why not go South Indian once in a while? As such, there is already a lot in common between Indo-Mauritian food and South Indian cuisine (Mauritian food is strongly influenced by Indian flavours and styles; especially South Indian).

If we are going to delve into South Indian food, I suppose the Dosai would be a beffiting point of entry. The Dosai is simply a sort of pancake made with a fermented batter of lentils (Urad Dal a.k.a black gram) and rice (generally raw rice). The lentils and rice are left to soak for 5 to 6 hours, then ground to a paste. They are then mixed together and allowed to ferment for around 8 hours. The fermented batter is spread on a hot plate (Tava) and cooked with oil or Ghee. The traditional accompaniments are the Sambar, Chutneys and a special potato preparation.

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Dosai batter getting cooked on a ‘Tawa’ (hot iron plate)

This now world famous, thin, crisp crêpe’s story goes long back in history to the ancient Tamils; as evidenced in ancient Tamil litterally works and inscriptions. There are also several ancient sources across South India that mention the Dosai being part of the diet in ancient times. The crisp, and now widely popular, form of the Dosai is said to have originated from Karnataka while the Dosai mentioned in the ancient Tamil sources is said to have been thicker and more soft (probably giving rise to the ‘Uttapam’). Dosai is how the Tamils call it, the Kannadigas call it ‘Dose’, Telugus and Malayalis use the term Dosa. And, i guess Dosa is how most of the world calls it as well. 🙂

20160731_122852[1]
Home-made Dosai, served with Sambar, three types of Chutney and potato masala. Also seen on the plate, a ‘Vadai’
Those who have grown up around a traditional ‘Ammaiye’ or ‘Appaiye’ in Mauritius would have definitely heard about something called the ‘Tosai’. If that is the case, you have already been introduced to the Dosai, in a local Mauritian context long back. 🙂 Yes, the Dosai was well present in Tamil families in Mauritius erstwhile, and it was also sold in Markets, especially the Port- Louis central market.

The Dosai is typically eaten as breakfast in South India (and across India occasionally), though it also finds its way on lunch and dinner tables. With creativity and experimentation, several variations of the Dosai have cropped up. We won’t go into much detail, let’s get to the highly anticipated recipe. 🙂

BASIC DOSAI RECIPE:

The recipe I am sharing with you is from my mother. Tested over and over for more than 30 years. 🙂 Childhood memories are rushing through my mind while I write this. At home Dosai has always occupied a very special place during ‘fasting’ time, when we do not consume anything prepared outside the house; implying absence of the regular breakfast staple- bread. Our breakfasts are therefore full-on Dosais and ‘farata’.

There are several variations to the Dosai batter recipe. This one is fairly simple and should turn out well. Remember that achieving the perfect batter needs some experimentation and trial, so get to it now! 🙂

DOSAI BATTER:

  • 2 Cups Raw Rice
  • 1 Cup Urad Dal (Black Gram)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Methi Seeds
  • Water

METHOD:

  1. Wash the rice until the water runs clear and soak in ample water.
  2.  Wash urad dal and methi seeds and soak in ample water separately (from rice).
  3. Leave both rice and dal to soak for 4 to 5 hours.
  4. Drain the water from the urad dal and place the dal in a mixer and blend to a smooth paste. You can add a little water, but it should remain a thick paste.
  5. Keep the ground Urad dal paste in a large bowl.
  6. In the same mixer, add the rice and blend to a smooth paste. Remember not to make the paste thin and runny.
  7. Mix both the rice and urad paste adding a little water. It shouldn’t be too thick or too thin.
  8. Cover the bowl and leave to ferment for 6 hours minimum in a warm place. Usually overnight is ideal.
  9. Through fermentation, the mixture will rise producing a slightly frothy and airy batter.

COOKING THE DOSAI

  1. Before cooking, give the fermented batter a good stir.
  2. Add a little water to thin out the batter so that it gathers a pouring consistency.
  3. Add salt to taste.
  4. Heat a Tava (iron plate).
  5. Pour a spoon full of Dosai batter on the heated Tava, and spread the batter in a circular motion starting from the centre till it is thinned out.
  6. Drizzle some oil or Ghee over the Dosai and leave to cook till the sides start leaving the Tava a little.
  7. By now, the Dosai would have turned golden and crisp as well.
  8. Serve hot, with Chutneys, Sambar and potato masala.

 

I think this is pretty fair to get started. Get to the kitchen and let me know the results. 🙂

Till next time…bye!

Devaraj

 

Please share this article with respect, by mentioning the source. Copyright: Devaraj Moothoosamy.  

 

 

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