My mother loves to feed people and I was stunned to see during this visit that almost every visitor, expected or unexpected was welcomed with the same enthusiasm and love that has been the norm since my childhood. I was thrilled to see that despite drastic changes in our society, this aspect had remained the same in my parents home. And I have to tell you that my mother particularly loves to feed dosas to her family and friends. Anybody who has had her dosas loves them. And the latest one to join the coterie is the apple of her eye, her three year old grandson who ate dosa every other day during his holidays at her place. My mother's dosas are a cross between Davangere benne dosa (butter dosas from a a town in the Indian state of karnataka) and the masala dosa. She makes it thin and crisp or soft and fluffy, laden with butter for the added richness or without any fat, filled with chutney and the spiced potatoes on the inside or served on the side as per one's liking. She serves her dosas with a wide array of chutneys and this time it was a simply delicious coconut sesame chutney. Whatever the technique that goes into making the personalized version, the spiced potatoes encased with the crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside dosa interspersed with creamy coconut chutney in every bite is the ultimate delight to my senses. It is also the taste of childhood that I find comfort in and go back to, again and again! At times, I like to eat this dosa without the potatoes, with just the chutney. Some times I might like to add some butter or ghee. But when I want to savour it in complete I make sure there is the potato as well as the chutney. One thing I strongly believe in is in using a cast iron griddle for cooking dosas or for that matter anything that has to be cooked on a griddle or a flat pan (think pancakes, rotis, chapatis, parathas and the like). Infact, there is no room for non stick cookware in my kitchen. Cast iron if seasoned well and used properly becomes naturally non stick and provides taste, texture and has some added health benefits. Dosas have been cooked in South India in cast iron griddles for hundreds of years and dosas cooked in them have a special character to them too. you can make teeny weeny ones and serve them as starters, make them for breakfast, serve them at lunch or dinner with the added accompaniments or even as an evening snack! They are so versatile and are great for kids too. Having some dosa batter in the refrigerator has saved many mothers from the drudgery of slaving in the kitchen for long at times when one is not in a mood for it. Practically, every South Indian mother has her own version of the dosa and I'm glad to be sharing my mother's version here. The dosa with its magical prowess on the taste buds, providing immense taste, texture and contentment has made many drab days better and if it is not already a part, I hope it works its magic into your life too. P.S.- If you want to know more about my cooking and food beliefs, read my interview here.
My Mother's Special Dosa With Coconut Sesame Chutney & Spiced Potatoes Recipe
440 gm (2 cups + 2 tbsp) raw rice (use any short grain rice like sona masuri)
70 gm (1/3 cup) channa dal (bengal gram dal)
70 gm (1/3 cup) yellow moong dal (green gram dal)
70 gm (1/3 cup) toor dal (red gram dal)
140 gm (3/4 cup) urad dal (split and husked black gram dal)
6 tbsp poha or flattened rice flakes
2 tsp methi (fenugreek seeds)
3 tsp salt
In a bowl assemble the rice, dals and the fenugreek seeds. In another bowl put in the urad dal. Wash them separately in many changes of water, cover with water and allow to soak for 4 to 6 hours.
Wash the poha and allow to soak in the water for about an hour.
Drain the water from the rice, dals, fenugreek seeds and the poha and using a little water grind the rice, dals, fenugreek seeds and poha together until you get a smooth paste. You might want to do this in batches to make the process easier. Repeat the same for the urad dal. Drain and grind into a smooth paste using a little water.
In a large vessel or a bowl (keep in mind that the dough doubles or even trebles in volume depending on the temperature) put in both the ground batters and salt and mix well with your hands until there are no lumps. Using your hands gives the batter the required warmth for the process of fermentation to begin. Use a little more water if required if the batter is stiff. The batter should look, soft, smooth and somewhat like a cake batter. Cover and keep aside to ferment for about 12 to 15 hours.
Notes:1.Use a cast iron griddle for taste, health and proper texture. The colour of the dosa depends on the variety or quality of the rice and the dals used. We normally use sona masoori rice for making the batter but you can also use any other short grained raw rice.
Coconut Sesame Chutney
100 gm (1 cup) coconut (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp sesame seeds, roasted
1 tsp tamarind or lime lime juice
3/4 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp salt
water as required
In a blender or a food processor, put in all the ingredients for the chutney and blend into a smooth paste until well blended.
500 gm (4 to 5 medium sized) potatoes, boiled
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Juice of half a lime
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 to 3 green chilies, chopped (or simply slit)
1 sprig curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafetida
Peel and chop the potatoes into 1"pieces. In a wok, heat the oil over a medium flame and pop in the mustard seeds. When they splatter, add the green chilies, curry leaves, turmeric and asafetida. Put in the potatoes and stir well over a medium flame. Cover and cook for five minutes over low heat, stirring in between. Put in the salt, sugar and lime and mix well. Cook for a couple of minutes more and turn off the heat.
To assemble the dosa:
Heat a griddle over a medium flame. Pour a tsp of oil and smear it all over using a cut potato or thick tissue paper. Pour a ladleful (about 1/2 a cup) of the dosa batter in the middle of the griddle or pan and immediately spread the batter into a large circle using a circular motion with your hand. Pour a tsp of oil around the edges and add a few drops on the top of the dosa. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes or until golden brown at the edges. I usually cook on only one side. You can also flip the dosa and cook on the other side for half a minute. Loosen the sides, fold the dosa into a semi circle and serve along side the chutney and the potatoes. You can also sprinkle some dry chutney powder or the prepared chutney over the white side of the dosa after it is cooked, add the potatoes to one side of the dosa, fold into a semi circle and serve. You can store the batter in the refrigerator for upto 3 days.
Makes 20 to 25 dosas
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