Monday, August 3, 2015

Masala Dosa (Far Flung wtih Gary Mehigan)

I have a weakness for all things caramelized, golden brown and crispy. Take for example, this Okonomiyaki Pancake-style Gyoza which was featured in Adam Liaw's Destination Flavour Japan two years ago. How could anyone resist those crispy charred-bottom dumplings doused in Kewpie mayonnaise? Well, certainly not I! Nor could I resist the temptation of the golden crispy dosa that Gary made in his latest cooking show "Far Flung with Gary Mehigan" which started airing on Channel Ten two weeks ago.

Dosa is one of my absolute favourite Indian foods, especially crispy paper dosa, which is a very thin and crispy dosa served with sambar and chutney. My trips back to Singapore are never complete without having paper dosa at least once at Little India.

And so begins my inaugural attempt at making masala dosa. The most important part of all this is the fermentation of the batter, which mainly made from rice and urad dal. Without adequate fermentation, you won't get the distinctive sourish taste of dosa. It's winter in Sydney and not the best time to find a warm spot to let the batter do its job. I did chuck it in a warm oven (turned off) for a little while, though it wasn't very effective. Nevertheless, the dosa turned out marvellouslly well (sans the sourness) and the texture was perfect - crispy on the outside and slightly chewy in the middle. I made the red chutney as well a coconut chutney to go along with it. It was deeeee-licious! If only I had a large hot plate, I could make a few dosas at a time as it takes about 5 minutes for each dosa to turn golden and crispy. I'm salivating at the thought of it now.

The potato bhaji is easy to prepare. I skipped the asafoetida as the bottle I had (from making Pav Bhaji 3 years ago!)  had expired and I didn't bother to buy another. I wasn't too sure if I got the red chutney right as it seemed a little dry (perhaps I used too much chana dal which I roasted/deep-fried until crisp) and so I had to add a fair bit of water to loosen the texture to a spreadable paste. In any case, it was the perfect accompaniment to the masala dosa. I made a quick coconut chutney using dessicated coconut, garlic, curry leaves and mustard seed. I'm salivating again. I think this calls for a dosa party at my house soon. Who's interested? :)


1 cup raw short grain rice
1 cup cooked short grain rice
1 cup ural dal
1/4 cup channa dahl
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
Pinch salt
60ml oil or ghee for cooking

Place both the cooked and raw rice and dahls into a medium sized bowl and rinse a few times under running water. Add the fenugreek seeds and cover with water (about 2 inches high).

Cover with cling wrap or a cloth and leave to ferment at room temperature for 5 hours or overnight.

Drain most of the liquid but reserve to one side. Blend the rice and dahl into a batter, adding a little of the soaking liquid if required to loosen. The batter should be the consistency of double cream.

Cover and leave in a warm place to ferment for a further 8 hours or overnight until bubbly and light. Add salt and mix again. Set aside. Prepare the potato bhaji (see below).

Potato Bhaji

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp mustard oil (optional)
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tbsp chana dal
1/4 tsp asafoetida (optional)
1 large red onion finely sliced
2 green chillies, chopped
10 curry leaves
1/2 tsp salt
3 medium potatoes diced and boiled
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 cup of water
2 tblsp chopped coriander
1/2 lime wedge

Heat the oils in a medium sized pan and add the mustard seeds. They will begin to sizzle and pop, add the chana dal and toast until golden. Add the asafoetida, the sliced onions, green chilies, curry leaves and pinch of salt and cook until light golden.

Add the cooked diced potatoes, turmeric, a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of water. Stir to combine, lower the heat and cook for a further 3-4 minutes to allow the heat to draw through the potatoes and for the flavours to combine. Set aside.

To make and assemble the dosa: Heat the dosa pan over a low heat (if it's too hot, the batter will set too quickly making it difficult to spread it around the pan) and pour a ladle of batter into the centre of the pan. Starting from the middle spread the batter out in concentric circles towards the outside to form a thin pancake. Don't try to retrace the lines.

Drizzle a little oil around and over the dosa and cook gently for 3-4 minutes until the bottom is golden and crisp. Spread some red chutney (see recipe below) over the dosa and place a spoonful or two of the potato bhaji into the centre, and carefully roll into a large tube. You need to do this while the dosa is still hot, otherwise it will be difficult to roll once it cools down. You can also fold it into a half-moon shape.

Serve the dosa warm with a little bowl of coconut chutney, fresh lime wedges and fresh chopped coriander. 

Red Chutney

1/2 cup roasted channa dahl
1 tbsp crush ajwain seeds
8 cloves garlic
5-6 long red chillies (I used dried chillies that have been blended and fried in oil)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

Combine in a spice grinder along with a little water and blend to a paste. 

Here's a variation of dosa with a lightly beaten egg spread over the top and cooked till set.
Something a bit more substantial!