Nat skillfully folding a dosai. With the hands of Fred Flintstone, it was suggested I photograph. A good suggestion.
Serves: As many as you need
If you haven’t had dosai, you’re missing out on one of the better Southern Indian delicacies.
If you have had dosai, you’ll know what I mean.
A wonderful, thin, crispy pancake with a glorious, soft, spiced filling of potato, mince or vegetables; the contrast of the incredibly light, incredibly thin, crunchy pancake against a wonderful filling is just awesome.
So much so, that learning how to cook them was on my cooking bucket list.
And two weeks ago, I ticked that box!
The batter itself is easy enough to prepare. The real trick is in making the dosai pancake, because unlike a Sunday-morning pancake, you need to spread out the dosai batter by hand as opposed to a breakfast pancake that does all the spreading for you.
The more you spread, the thinner the dosai, the better the dosai.
Oh, and the spread needs to be circular. Our boys might eat the strangely shaped pancakes we serve them on weekends, though dosais are about having a round, dinner-plate sized disc.
To do this, pour a ladle of the batter in the middle of the heated, dry pan.
You then spread the batter evenly in concentric circles until it reaches the edges of the griddle. Something with a small, flat-bottom will do this job just fine.
Your first few attempts will leave you with dosai far too small, thick in parts and with tears and holes, though you’ll get the knick of it.
And the batter lasts for 6-months, so you’ll have plenty of time.
It might seem an effort, though once you get the handle of it, you’ll be the master of one of the finer foods you can cook from Southern India. And seriously, the contrast in textures, is to die for.
3 parts fine to medium rice flour
1 part split black lentil flour
Water for the batter
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil or ghee to pan-fry the dosai
- Mix the rice and lentil flours with just enough cold water to form a thick, fine paste. Don’t mix too heavily as the lumps will disappear overnight.
- Add salt to taste and leave the batter in a warm place overnight to ferment
- Mix the batter thoroughly the next morning.
- Heat the pan until it is hot; if you can hold your hand for 10 seconds around 4cm from the top of the pan, you’re at the right temperature.
- Pour a ladle of the batter in the center of the pan and spread evenly in concentric circles till it reaches the edges of the pan.
- Drizzle a small amount of the oil or ghee on the pancake to baste. Cook on a medium heat until the dosai is golden brown.
- Place the filling of your choice in center of the dosai and roll or fold the dosai as desired.
- Serve hot with fresh (coconut) chutney and sambhar.