My first experience with Neer Dosa was when I was a child. I still remember the day when my friend and neighbour Reshma Shetty's mother had invited us for a meal with these lacy thin dosas and other accompaniments.
But my real experience with this dosa was in my mother's friend Sindhu Prabhu's home. We have had such memorable meals in her home with her being so affectionate, warm and generous as a hostess. As I watched Sindhu aunty make Neer Dosa's I was amazed at the dexterity and speed with which she made them, one after another. She poured the thin watery batter on the tava and tilted the tava by holding the hot side with a piece of cloth, allowing the batter to form a nice round circle. She then served it with fresh coconut chutney and a payasa made with rice, channa dal, coconut milk and jaggery.
Years later, in my kitchen in Mumbai I made Neer Dosa many times with different accompaniments. One day on ekadasi I imagined how it would be if I replaced the rice in neer dosa with barnyard millet, the only millet allowed on ekadasi, the day one fasts from grains and beans according to the vedic calendar.
When I replaced the rice with barnyard millet, the result was amazing and my guess is that this would work with any other millet as well.
Neer in Kannada (Neer Dosa originates in Karnataka) means water and since the batter for this dosa has to be of a watery consistency to get the right texture, the name of this dosa came to be Neer Dosa, setting it apart from its thicker counterparts.
I have spoken before about the nutritious benefits of barnyard millet. Apart from being gluten free, it is a good source of iron, is rich in fiber and has a low glycemic index making it very good for diabetics. These millets also belong to the "Siri Dhanya" or miraculous grains, category of millets which have positive properties and can grow under varied conditions with minimal irrigation.
Although this recipe can be made on fasting days, you can have them on other days as well. Enjoy these dosas with coconut chutney or a vegetable curry.
Barnyard Millet Neer Dosa Recipe:
330 gm (1 1/2 cups) barnyard millet
75 gm (3/4th cup) fresh coconut
1 1/2 tsp Salt
Wash and soak the millet in plenty of water overnight or for 4 to 6 hours.
In a blender add the millet, coconut, salt and a little water and grind to a smooth paste.
Add more water to get a thin watery consistency.
Hear a well seasoned cast iron pan and pour the batter in the centre of the pan. With the handle or a pair of tongs, tilt the pan and spread the batter to form a circle.
Alternatively pour the batter on the tava until you get a circle. Add a few drops of oil over the sides.
Cover the pan and cook till done.
Carefully lift the Dosa and place it on a plate.
Serve with with chutney or curry.
Makes 20 to 25 dosas.