Monday, February 17, 2014

Tried and Tested Dosas, With a New Onion Chutney

Dosas- those crisp and airy crepes of rice and lentils, a staple of Southern Indian breakfasts. I've often said that I could eat dosas at every meal, and yesterday this wish came true, with dosas for Sunday brunch and then again for dinner because I ran out of time to make something else and then again for breakfast this morning because, well, because I just love them that much.

We had friends yesterday for brunch, and we do this so often that I'm getting lots of practice with putting brunches together and anticipating what dishes will be well-received. Dosas, without a doubt, have been a hit every time I've served them. Sambar for some reason isn't as popular so I serve the dosas with potato masala and cilantro coconut chutney, both of which are always popular as well.And we always make ginger chai for our guests and amaze them with the fact that chai does not, indeed should not contain 15 different spices.

Dosa with cilantro coconut chutney and onion chutney
After making dosa batter week after week, I've landed on the formula that works for me. The two typical ingredients in a dosa batter are rice (which can be raw or parboiled) and urad dal. Different recipes call for different proportions of the rice and urad dal and add other ingredients for taste and texture- everything from chana dal to rava.

My current favorite way of making dosa is based on Vaishali's recipe. And here's my formula:
  • 2 cups raw rice
  • 2 cups parboiled rice
  • 1 cup gota urad dal
  • 1/4 cup chana dal
  • 1 tsp. methi seeds
  • 2 tbsp. poha
This formula is flexible. For the raw rice, I'll often use brown rice, or then a cup each of brown rice and sona masoori rice. I've also used a combination of brown rice and barley. And for the parboiled rice, I'll sometimes use rosematta rice which is pretty and pink, or then just the usual parboiled rice which is sold as idli/dosa rice.

After the soaking and grinding and fermenting, the batter is ready to use. Sometimes, I add some ragi flour before making dosas. Dosa batter freezes beautifully so it makes sense for me to make a large batch. But the formula can be easily halved for a smaller batch. What I love is that the dosa made with this batter is beautifully brown and crisp, but also has a toothsome, substantial texture- it is not too thin and papery.

And every good dosa deserves a tasty chutney to accompany it. Along with the regular coconut chutney, I tried a new recipe last night for onion chutney from Cooking at Home with Pedatha by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain. The authors call it a must-try recipe and it looked tempting enough so I did not need much convincing. It goes well with idli, dosa or steamed rice.

As I was writing this post, I realized that there are numerous onion chutneys already on this blog: I've posted a very similar onion chutney from another cookbook, and a very minimalist onion chutney made with just three ingredients, and I distinctly remember trying an onion peanut chutney from another blog but can't find where I've mentioned it! Well, here's one more...and it's worth making.

One More Onion Chutney
(Adapted from Cooking at Home with Pedatha by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain)

1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a pan.

2. Temper the hot oil with 1 tbsp. urad dal, 1 tsp. mustard seeds, 4-5 methi seeds, 1 sprig curry leaves, a pinch of asafetida, a handful of chopped cilantro leaves and 1 tsp. red chilli powder (or to taste).

3. Add 3 coarsely chopped onions and fry them for several minutes until soft and translucent.

4. Blend the mixture (don't add any water) with 2 tbsp. tamarind paste and salt to taste to a thick chutney.


I enjoyed leafing through and cooking from Cooking at Home with Pedatha. The cookbook is a collection of a lifetime of recipes from Subhadra Krishna Rau Parigi, fondly known as Pedatha. Imagine a traditional festive spread at an affluent home- dozens of dishes arrayed around a thali- and the cookbook will teach you how to make just that. Vegetable dishes, flavorful chutneys and pachadis, sweets, all at their home-style best with recipes from a lady who clearly loved to cook. The pictures are luscious and the design is elegant. Many of the recipes call for vegetables that are common in India but not in the US but there are notes indicating substitutes. This is helpful for someone like me who has little or no access to things like such as raw banana, melon cucumbers and drumsticks.

I wish the book had a recipe index, so I could quickly look up recipes that use a particular ingredient. And I wish the book did not refer to lentils by their English names- I still get confused with split red gram and green gram. Calling them toor dal and moong dal is easier for me. But there is a pictorial ingredient list in the back of the book where I can look up for the hundredth time what split black gram means.

Apart from the onion chutney, I tried two other recipes from the book. 

Cucumber sweet and sour chutney is made with cucumbers that I use in salads every other day but rarely use in cooking per se. The cucumbers are lightly sauteed in a sweet and sour sauce made with tamarind, jaggery and sesame seeds. We ate this cucumber chutney with some dal and rice and it transformed the humble meal. Pavani has posted the recipe for cucumber sweet and sour chutney if anyone wants to try it.




I also made majjiga pulusu (a gravy with yogurt)- a version of what I know as kadhi. Interestingly, instead of the besan (chickpea flour) that is added to yogurt to make kadhi- it adds thickness and also keeps the yogurt from curdling- this recipe uses a paste of soaked chana dal.

Several other recipes from Pedatha's book can be found in blog-land; here's a short list: sweet rasam, brinjal pasty vegetablebrinjal roastraw banana with mustard and rava ladoo.

Everyone who enjoys simple home-style Indian cooking will find some recipe gems in this cookbook and I'm glad I finally got to cook from it.

What have you been cooking and eating this weekend? Any dosa binges you'd like to talk about? No, just me?

57 comments:

  1. oh, I am just like you when it comes to dosas! I can have them for every meal for the rest of my life. I have said this for soups as well, before...but you get the point?! ;) Whenever I go to any south indian restaurant, I ALWAYS order a dosa and request/force my husband to order something non-dosa so that i can try that as well! heh..
    This week I am cooking mac n cheese one day, a pizza one day and something greek another day. My mom is leaving for india in another 2 weeks and I am in a cooking frenzy (cooking 3 times a week qualifies as frenzy!), trying out all my trusted non-indian recipes on her. :)

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    1. LOL I am also guilty of that- cajoling dining companions to order things so I can have my cake and eat it too, so to speak! Your cooking frenzy sounds perfectly delicious and hope your mom is enjoying the global food fest.

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  2. Hi Nupur,
    Dosa is my fav too - Set dosa with vegetable sagu is at the top of the list!
    Your picture of the rice, majjige huli and chips on the plate is making me very hungry :)

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    1. I don't make set dosa often but I should! Do you have a favorite recipe for veg sagu?

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    2. This is an excellent one to start with http://www.tasteofmysore.com/2008/09/poori-mathu-saagu.html

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  3. Yummy and healthy Dosas with brown rice, and ragi flour. I started liking dosas more after I started making dosa with brown rice! Sometimes, I add grated carrot/spinach while making dosa. This weekend I made pongal, sambhar, and a new savory bread Herb and Cheese Pull Apart Bread, I will definitely try this onion chutney, thanks

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    1. I also like the taste of dosas with brown rice- they come out more flavorful! The pull apart bread sounds amazing, I plan to make something similar tomorrow.

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  4. the best chuntney that goes with idli or dosa is as per a guy who has been eating for last 35 years will have following ingredients

    1. lots of fresh coconut.
    2. green chillies ( spicier the better)
    3. asophotida
    4.urad dal
    5.pudina
    3.

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    1. Sounds good. Of course, not everyone can tolerate the heat from lots of green chillies and not everyone has access to fresh coconut and pudina all year round.

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  5. This weekend I made egg curry. Got a craving after reading about it here. My husband likes the north indian style of egg curry without coconut so I made it my MIL's style (I like it too. She adds some potatoes to the gravy too).
    I love dosas too but I am not yet there in terms of finding the satisfactory method mainly due to my blender. It finally broke this weekend. So, I am looking to buy a new one. Which blender do you have? Almost all recipes today seem to use the blender. :)

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    1. For dosa batter, I have a stone grinder (was lucky enough to get it handed down from my husband's cousin). And for the chutney I use a food processor. So I don't have any good recos for you, I'm afraid!

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  6. We love dosas here too and make them very often. I also like to make different kinds of chutneys to keep the meals interesting. I made vahchef's ginger chutney recently and loved it! I'll try this onion chutney next.

    We cooked (and ate) a lot this weekend. We started off making two recipes side by side - a wedding qorma and a karahi preparation with lots of ginger. Then I made a stew of black eyed beans and vegetables for the weekday lunch but the most interesting thing I made was a pineapple halwa with a pinch of chilli :-) and not just any chilli - the Trinidad 7 pot. So this simple dessert starts of tasting sweet just like any other dessert, slightly sour from the pineapple, spicy from the cardamom and saffron, nutty from the roasted ground nuts and just when all these flavors settle, there is a warm tingling sensation from the chilli - like fireworks in the mouth. :-) It doesn't make you run for a glass of water, it just leaves you surprised and wow'ed at the unexpected ending. :-)

    - Priti

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    1. Ginger chutney sounds amazing- the Pedatha book has a recipe for that too but I did not get around to trying it. Your cooking weekend sounds amazing. I want to move in!

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  7. Till my kids arrived the only and I mean it when I say it that this was the only breakfast served everyday before we went to work with peanut chutney. Weekends were with potato masala. :)

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    1. Ah that would surely make me excited to hop out of bed every morning :)

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  8. I don't know if I have mentioned this before I LOVE your blog. You are my hero.

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    1. You're so sweet- but there's nothing heroic in my life, trust me!

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  9. Hi Nupur,

    Talking about dosas, for the longest time, I've been trying to decide between getting a wet grinder or getting a Blendtec. I'm sure the Blendtec will be great for a lot of things, but for it me it has to substitute the wet grinder for making idli and dosa batter. I've heard that its a breeze to clean.
    Have you or any of your readers used it? If yes, please share how it has worked for you. In an Indian kitchen can it replace both the 'mixie' and the wet grinder? Appreciate any responses.

    Sowmya

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    1. I've never used Blendtec so I can't say- sorry!

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  10. I've been on a dosa kick myself lately. Husband doesn't like fermented batter much, so I make different beans/lentil dosas. Just made moong dosa twice in the last two weeks. I will try the onion chutney next time!

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    1. Moong dal dosas sound great. Funny enough, my husband doesn't care much for the lentil dosas, he prefers the fermented kind.

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  11. I am like that about dosas. Love them! I am planning them for dinner today and am planning to make a Saravana Bhavan type sambar.
    I have tried many recipes from Pedatha's book. This onion chutney is a keeper, so is the cucumber chutney. I make it with Persian cucumbers which are curnchier. Also, instead of cubing the cucumbers, I grate them, now.
    Theeyati Pulusu is also a great accompaniment to rice, I love how the vegetables mellow the gravy and the flavors meld together.
    I got a bread making machine just yesterday and made my first loaf yesterday.. I 'heart' it! No kneading! just add the ingredients ( in the order mentioned) and set it, 3 hrs later, a perfect loaf! I'm doing a happy dance :)

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    1. I'll try the cucumber chutney with Persian cukes- thanks! No knead bread is awesome and I've been making a lot of it too, but not with a bread machine, just with regular loaf pans. I have no space or inclination to add another kitchen appliance!

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  12. I made dosas this past weekend too. My recipe is similar to yours, but I replace some of the rice with quinoa. Too much quinoa prevents the dosa from being crisp, but a little bit really doesn't affect the taste or texture and its protein-rich :)

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    1. Good idea to add a bit of quinoa.

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  13. I could have dosas for breakfast, lunch and dinner too, and I always feel a little happier when I have a pot of dosa batter sitting in my refrigerator. :) I have to try the onion chutney soon -- it sounds so good.
    I love doing brunches with friends too not least because it doesn't tie up the whole day, the way dinner gatherings tend to.
    I made some slow cooker lentil bolognese this weekend. I have been doing a lot of cooking with my slow cooker of late, and it never ceases to amaze me how much more flavorful slow-cooked foods are.

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    1. I agree- brunches are great for entertaining without spending the whole day in the kitchen prepping the meal. And I'm a morning person so I enjoy my brunch guests more ;)
      I don't have a slow cooker (well, I have a mini one for dips from a yard sale!) but lentil bolognese sounds fantastic.

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  14. I toomade pesarattu for the first time this month,was different with onion topping and also have a new dosa favourite from tarla dalal-ragi coriander uttapam,its lovely to useful all those greens!with chutneys,im inot peanut and garlic chunteys and all those pachadis from sailus kitchen!

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    1. All those variations sound terrific!

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  15. Shubha from SydneyFebruary 19, 2014 12:27 AM

    Hi Nupur - lovely post, again! Well, after 5 weeks in Pune where I OD'd on dosas, I am taking a rest. I usually get the batter from Indian stores to make dosas and I love how tamarind has been incorporated in the chutneys. I made vangyache bhareet, peeth perun capsicum and kadhi gole last weekend. Warm wishes - Shubha

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    1. Ooh kadhi gole and peeth perun bhaji, it has been too long since I made those homely dishes!

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  16. I just read parts of your blog. What amazing food!

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  17. One of my favorite cookbooks for comfort food! Now I am tempted to make a big batch of dosa batter, esp with the temp in the 40's here this week :)

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    1. Are you saying temp in the 40s is high?! Oh you poor thing, what a long winter this has been.

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  18. The dosais look soooo good! My favourite at the moment is Sailu's Oats Adai. No fermenting business and is utterly easy to do. A Thursday staple in our household especially since by then, I simply have lost the will to step into the kitchen the day of rest close enough to stretch the aching legs but not until two more days of endless meals and food and cleaning have to be endured.

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    1. I hear ya about Thursdays- today is Thu and I was thinking I'm going to make a khichdi and nothing else for dinner!

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  19. Oh yes Nupur - here is how we prepare veg sagu for set dosa.
    A piece of cinnamon, ginger, 3-4 green chillies, some coriander leaves, a tsp of jeera, a pincg of hing, roasted chana dal (hurigadale as we call it in Kannada), a pinch of turmeric - all to be ground into a smooth paste along with grated coconut. Cook some mix veggies - carrots/knol khol/potato/beans/ all diced medium size. Add the ground mixture to the boiled veggies, bring to a boil and simmer until the raw smell of the masalas go away. Optionally temper sagu with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Dunk set dosa in sagu and enjoy :)

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    1. Thanks so much- I will have to try this recipe soon!

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  20. hi,i'm a big admirer of ur blog,keep up the good work.tell me do u thaw frozen dosa batter in microwave or just leave it in refrigerator overnight.? and for long can it be frozen?

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    1. I thaw frozen dosa batter strictly in the fridge overnight. Thawing it at room temperature would be OK. Thawing it in the microwave is a strict no-no; the batter would have a high chance of being par-cooked. I freeze dosa batter for a few weeks, not more than 2 months.

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  21. So, you get dosa batter in all the Indian stores in the Bay Area. It comes in yogurt tubs and it's awesome. Apparently the guy who owns the company was in IT and found it more rewarding to sell dosa & idli batter, bless his heart. Haven't made batter since moving to California.

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    1. Good for this enterprising soul! The amount of idli/dosa we consume (and feed our friends), I couldn't afford to buy batter. Not that that's an option anyway in my little town!

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  22. Being from the South, dosas are a staple at my home, and my little boy loves them with homemade 'molagai podi' (some call it gun powder) and lots of homemade ghee. While I love chutneys, I feel like a dosa-chutney meal is often not filling enough (especially for me, who eats just one). My favorite accompaniment is Kadala Curry (curried black chickpeas, Kerala style, although white chickpeas work well too). I love the recipe in Ammini Ramachandran's Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts.

    On a different note, I recently saw and thoroughly enjoyed the French movie Les saveurs du Palais (Haute Cuisine) based on the true story of President Mitterrand's private chef. It was delightful and delicious and I am sure you will like it too.

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    1. You only eat one dosa! Either you have a small appetite or large willpower or something :) I'm going to have to look for the kadala curry recipe- and grains, greens is another cookbook I want to cook from.
      The movie does sound delicious!!

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  23. dosa and chutney looks very yumm.. Being a South Indian dosa is a part of our regular breakfast. And I simply loved your chutney.

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  24. Dear Nupur, I love dosas! My entire family does, actually. I go through phases of making them a lot and then stop. You have reignited my desire to make them. I should try my vitamix to make the batter. Sometimes I buy ready-made batter at the Indian store. I haven't been cooking much lately and am trying a wheat-free diet. It's hard but I eat a lot of rice. Dosas will be perfect! Hope Lila is doing well and Duncan and V. Lots of love, R

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    1. I'd have to drive out an hour to buy dosa batter! Not that I want to anyway, I am lucky enough to have one of those massive stone grinders so could probably sell my own dosa batter if I wanted to ;)
      We're all well- will e-mail you tomorrow to catch up!! Love!

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  25. I made the onion chutney this weekend to go along with idlis and it was so flavorful! Thanks for blogging about it.
    I make idli/dosa batter every other week and it's a relief having it in the fridge.
    My 13 month old was hit with a stomach bug this past week and hubby was traveling so, it was super helpful to have batter in fridge for quick meals for me and my 4 year old.

    -Anu

    -Anu

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    1. Anu- I'm so glad you tried and liked the recipe! That must have been a rough week with one ill child and managing by yourself- hope the little one is all better. Yes, dosa batter is like having money in the bank ;) it gives you a sense of security.

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    2. Last week was rough but, my daughter goes to preschool all day and my son is, knock on wood, a really laid back, happy baby. I work full time so it was kinda nice to spend so much time with him. Although all the diarrhea and throwing up and resulting laundry was not fun at all. I did hand the kids off to my hubby the minute he walked through the door. I was happy to be at my desk at work on Monday morning.

      I didn't know one could freeze dosa batter, thanks for that tip as well.

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  26. I have to try this version of Onion chutney...as I love onion & I want to have onion chutney recipe which I can say I love...tried once didn't liked it....other time tried at one south indian rest.(suppose to be good one heard lot about it) but again didn't like the chutney at all......next time I make dosa i'll try this, might add some hari mirchi.......Me & hubs love dosas and I only use brown rice for my dosa so i'm with u, it does give it nice color & texture.

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  27. Nupur as I said i'll try this version of onion chutney next time with dosa, so I did it. We both loved it, I added hari mirchi also & forgot methi dana. But it was gud, the kind I wanted. Thanks.

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  28. Tried the cucumber chutney.more like a gujju actually. Didnt have sesame seed powder handy so used some Israeli Tahiti I had on hand instead. Also today being a saltless eating day for me I omitted the salt. These were the only variations and it was addictively good. The humble cucumber! Who knew!!

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  29. Typos in my previous comment.. this is what happens when you type from your "smart"phone!

    Gojju or Gotsu not gujju.. Although the jaggery does kind of make it sweet like a lot of Gujarati dishes :)

    And Tahini as in the sesame seed paste.. not Tahiti. Although it was so good you might feel transported to a Polynesian island.


    GAH!

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