The variety of dosa, hailing from Southern India, is a good case to point the diversity in Indian cuisine. Dosa is a pancake-like food prepared from a batter made with rice and lentils. All varieties of dosa begin like that, but each adds a distinctive twist to this delightful dish.
Here is the recipe for plain dosa, the most simple, and a few examples of dosa variations...
- Rinse the rice, then drain. Mix the rice, urad dal, and fenugreek together in a bowl then cover with water. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow to stand overnight. The softened rice should be easy to mash now. Add the soda water and a pinch of salt. Mash in the bean curds.
- To cook, simply spread a small amount of oil on a tava -an iron griddle- and heat for a few minutes. Pour the batter in a circular pattern, either starting from the center and working out, or working from the outside in until the central hole is filled. Flip when the edges are browned.
Rava is a delightful variation.
Instead of the fenugreek, substitute a teaspoon of coriander, chopped very finely. Soak the rice as before, but during the mashing, add 2 cups (500 ml) of buttermilk. Cook as before.
Now we're getting really exotic. This variation uses cottage cheese to add bulk and tang. A truly delicious style.
In addition to the ingredients listed first, include a cup of grated paneer after the soaking phase. For a zesty variation, add 2 finely chopped green chiles.
For an even spicier style from Southern India, try dosa with a fine masala. Prepare the dosa batter as before, add the masala and cook as explained.
To save yourself some trouble on the batter, you can use a cup of wheat flour mixed with 1/4 cup of rice flour, rather than preparing your own. Now, you will take the rava recipe - apart from the rice - and add a cup of jaggery, a sweet brown sugar.
Cook as before.
India is a diverse and ancient land encompassing more than two dozen states. With a population over one billion, made up of hundreds of tribes that have mixed over centuries, you might expect a highly varied cuisine. That is seen even in such categories as snacks.
Jaggery dosas, the sweet variation, are delicious for breakfast.
Preparing the Jaggery to add to the mix is easy. Pour the powder into two cups of boiling water and reduce the heat to avoid scorching. Simmer until it is a thick, gooey mixture. It will smell wonderful.
For your glossary
urad dal - a kind of lentil popular in India.