Eating out at a dosa restaurant is always a lot of fun. Generally, the menu is long but predictable and having a working knowledge of dosa vocabulary goes a long way in making informed decisions about what dosa to choose from the menu!
What to expect when you are expecting dosa to be served :D
Dosa: An airy pancake/crepe made with fermented rice-lentil batter
Rava Dosa: Instead of the regular dosa batter, this dosa is made with a semolina (rava) batter; it is a dosa that looks lacier and has a different taste
Masala: Normal usage: spice; in the dosa context, this is a spicy, turmeric-tinged potato filling
Sada: This refers to "plain", sans potato filling
Mysore: This is a beautiful city in Southern India. In the dosa context, it means that the dosa will be smeared with a spicy chutney (either a paste or a powder)
Paper: An extra-crispy dosa that is as thin as paper
Ghee: Indian clarified butter will be used in copious amounts in the making of this dosa
So when you read "Sada Rava Dosa" or "Paper Masala Dosa" or "Ghee Mysore Dosa" on the menu, you know exactly what they are referring to. South Indian restaurants specializing in dosas are becoming more popular in the US, thank goodness. In NYC, I highly recommend the gunpowder masala dosa at Chennai Garden (they call it gunpowder for a reason, trust me). In St. Louis, I am told that a restaurant called Priyaa serves dosas, but I have yet to eat there. Of course, if you live in St. Louis, you can be nice to me and I'll be happy to invite you home for dosas ;)
The Mysore Masala Dosa is not difficult to make but I will say that it a multi-component dish: you need to make coconut chutney and sambar (who ever heard of a proper dosa meal without those fixings?) and for the dosa, you need some potato masala (my recipe for the potato masala is exactly like Sailu's) and chutney. The chutney that I am accustomed to seeing in Mysore dosas is the powdered kind (podi). This is not difficult to make at home, but I chose the lazy way out and used store-bought MTR chutney powder. The recipe for the dosa batter comes from the booklet 100 Tiffin Varieties by S. Mallika Badrinath. This tiny and inexpensive booklet is full of good ideas and recipes (well, a hundred of them, as advertised). Apart from a bunch of dosa recipes, she has 2 "Dosa Bonanza" tables (one for the soaking/grinding variety and one for the ready-mix variety) which cover about 20-some dosas in the space of 3-4 pages by cleverly putting columns in a spreadsheet: name of dosa, ingredients, seasonings, method of cooking, yield etc. Very efficient!
Mysore Masala Dosa
(From Mallika Badrinath's 100 Tiffin Varieties; serves 2-3)
Soak together for 5-6 hours:
½ C Brown rice
½ C Sona masuri rice (or other white rice)
1 heaped T urad dal
1 heaped T toor dal
¼ C poha (flattened rice flakes)
1 t salt (or to taste)
½ t sugar
1 ½ T rava (semolina)
1. An hour before grinding, soak the poha. Then, drain the soaked poha and add it to the soaked ingredients. Grind everything together into a smooth batter.
2. Add salt and ferment in a warm spot for 12-16 hours or until utterly bubbly.
3. An hour before making dosas, stir in the sugar and rava into the batter. The batter should be easy to pour- add some water if it is too thick.
Make thin dosas, using the back of the ladle to spread the dosa out on the skillet. These thin dosas only need to be cooked on one side. When the top of the dosa is dry, sprinkle some (or a lot!) of the chutney powder and a little bit of the potato stuffing. Fold, serve, eat...right away.
I think the little bit of rava makes this dosa extra crispy and delicious. This was such a wonderful meal!
For a gorgeous version of Mysore Masala dosa, check this recipe from Ruchii. What's more, she is from Mysore!
In case you are still hungry, here is the second dosa. You mix two flours, pour in water to make a batter and make dosas. Easy breezy but delicious. The concept of using atta (fine whole wheat flour) for dosa is completely new to me. I followed Krithika's recipe for Goduma dosa, and halved it to get just enough dosas for two, and one little dosa just for Dale (he loves dosa like you would not believe; sits and begs by the stove until I feed him some). I did not bother to let the batter rest, and made sure that it was a very thin batter. These dosas are unlike any I have made before, the batter pours on the skillet and turns into this lacy pattern as it dances over the hot surface.
I served these crispy dosas with Indosungod's Tomato Carrot Chutney- a clever recipe that uses carrot instead of coconut.
In the past couple of weeks, I have been trooping all over town meeting food bloggers here in St. Louis. First it was a St. Louis Food Bloggers potluck, hosted by Stef. Just as expected, it was a wonderful event, with good company and great food. Among other goodies, I tasted these lavender-pear cupcakes, gawked at IronStef's creations and could not get enough of this gorgeous orzo with roasted vegetables.
My own contributions to the potluck: Ragda-Patties with the works, and Carrot Halwa (although those posts are old ones, and the recipes I now use have been tweaked a bit).
I was in a silly mood, and shaped the patties as hearts. It turned out not to be such a bad idea after all; the heart-shaped patties have better stacking properties and I could fit more patties per square inch on the baking dish!
It turns out that Stef's husband, Jonathan, is a professional photographer. Here is a gorgeous photo he took of my date-tamarind chutney being poured onto a patty:
Then, yesterday, I got a chance to have coffee with Seema, just in the nick of time as she relocates to India in a few days. It was wonderful to sit and talk with her and get to meet her family, including an adorable toddler. Here's wishing Seema good times in her new home and plenty of good eats in her new kitchen in India.
Meeting up with food bloggers sometimes results in funny conversations in real life.
When I told my friend M about the bloggers potluck...
M: A Food Bloggers' potluck?? Can regular people go?
Me: No, you have to be a food blogger or be married to one!
M: Oh :( loose associations with food bloggers don't count, eh?
And when my friend J (who has no idea about this blog) asked about my weekend plans...
Me: I'm going to have coffee with a friend...she is relocating to India and I want to meet up with her.
J: How do you know her?
Me: Umm...I met her online...
Have a great week, everyone!