A couple of days ago I set up a batch of South Indian dosa mix which has been gently fermenting in my kitchen. Myself and my toddler wolfed down two mighty pancakes yesterday for breakfast, today the mix was finished by making lunchtime slices. As with all fermented recipes, a little forward planning is required and the easily digested results are well worth it!
I learned how to make this magical pancake mix in Mysore, seven years ago from a housewife who ran cooking lessons for the visiting yoga community. The ingredients are simple and cheap; lentils, rice and an optional splash of yoghurt. The mixture is used to make Indian steamed dumplings, called Idli, or the pancakes called dosa.
A quick trawl around the Net will provide you with plenty of recipe ideas, variations and background. Here is the simple recipe I follow here in Holland, for making chunky, filling dosa. Traditionally, the rice and lentils are supposed to be soaked separately but I find no problems soaking them together.
Dosa are great for slicing and carrying in a lunchbox along with sweet or savoury accompaniments – breakfast.. Mashed banana, yoghurt and honey. Lunch.. Anything from sliced cheese, ham etc to a pot of curry. Yum! Idli are made by dolloping mix into specially shaped steamer plates. I have such a steamer but find the dosa to be much more predictable and quick to make, especially in the morning. However in India, idli are more often eaten as tiffin (lunch) than dosa and Indian dosa are usually much thinner than mine!
2 cups rice (today I used wholegrain Basmati)
1 cup urad dahl (called black split lentils but they are actually white inside)
1/2 cup yoghurt (optional)
1. Soak the rice and dhal in plenty of water, overnight.
2. Drain, discard soak water.
3. Stir in yoghurt, our some filtered water and grind up in a blender until a smooth-ish thick paste is formed.
4. Transfer to a large bowl, cover a and leave at moderate room temperature for about 24 hours. The longer it is left to ferment, the more spot the taste will become.
5. To cook, simply ladle some of the mixture into a non stick or well oiled frying pan. Cook over a low to medium heat until one side is just brown. Flip and repeat to cook the other side.
6. Serve with chosen sweet or savoury accompaniment.
Speaking to an Indian colleague today, I learned that such thick dosa are called attapam, or uth apam. They are traditionally served with fried onions and other savouries.