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Dosa


Suvir Saran
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  • 7 months later...

Hi, My name is Sam kagan new to egullet but for my Indians I have some questions in this forum. So this is not racist or anything but everyindian restaurant I go to they have this thing called dosa.
 
Questions:
What is dosa?
In this videos I found Dosas with different names like mysore?
Can you put anything on your dosas or it is certain things?
How much are dosas worth?
 Are dosas famous all over india or just a certain part?
 
My questions arised from these videos

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iJUlXszEEw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HKebG6xhAs

 

Edited by samkagan (log)
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Hi samkagan,

 

India's a huge country with a very long history, tons of population, and many different subcultures and castes.

 

Dosa are southern Indian.

 

I'm not from India nor do I have much exposure to their culture, but I do have a love for Indian food, and I'm lucky enough to live within walking distance of a Little India in my community. Actually I call it the ethnic village, because all within walking distance I have Latino, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Italian, and even Himalayan-Nepali mom and pop restaurants. Used to have a good Vietnamese restaurant there, but now you'd have to drive for that. Still, I'm truly blessed with a cornucopia of ethnic eateries practically in my backyard.

 

I discovered dosa for the first time at the Udipi Cafe restaurant.

 

There are photos of dosa on the yelp website reviews for the restaurant:

 

http://www.yelp.com/biz/udupi-cafe-cary-2

 

I liked the dosa and uthappam so much at my first exposure about 15 years ago that I wanted to emulate them at home. I set off on the internet for more info and recipes. Turns out they're made from roughly the same batter, but I suspect (don't know) that dosa batter's diluted down thinner that the uthappam batter. Dosas are more like an ultra crispy crepe, and uthappam's more like a pancake.

 

It calls for urad dal and rice soaked separately, ground and fermented with natural yeast (bacteria?) from the air. It takes several days and a lot of steps and effort, so I came to the conclusion that it wasn't happenin' in this kitchen. The biggest off-putter was that my Oster blender probably wouldn't be up to the task of grinding the grains and beans anyway, at least not for long before the motor burned out.

 

So I came up with a wheat flour/corn meal pancake and embellished it with finely chopped onion, tiny green peas, grated carrot and finely chopped jalapeno peppers for a very satisfactory Southern USA/Indian fusion version of Udipi's uthappam. 

 

I really haven't attempted dosa. I do make crepes, which are eggier and more flexible than dosa.

 

Sadly when I went to Udipi last week for lunch the dosa was still good although smaller, but the filling wasn't as good. It was so watery it made the dosa soggy wherever it contacted it. Fortunately, it's customary to only put a small amount of filling in each dosa, so I ate the still crispy dosa and left the soggy part and the filling. Also over the years the spiciness has been tamed a lot. I guess even Indians who are at least 90% of the patronage at this establishment lose some of their taste for heat after eating our blander cuisine. I think I could even take my capsaicin averse husband to Udipi now.

 

I filled up mostly on idly and sambar, and the lovely ripe watermelon they had on the cold bar. If I can even find watermelon this time of year in local markets it's very expensive, so I definitely got my money's worth. The papadums were excellent too; thin, crispy, bubbled up loveliness.  It's $8.99 plus 70 cents tax for the weekday lunch buffet. It used to be better, but it's still very okay. Almost everyone drinks water, so that's not an added expense. The water is refilled so religiously and all the staff are so pleasant, I couldn't help but tip 20% anyway even though it's a buffet. I also noticed that the staff is much more familiar with English than they were in the past.

 

It was very interesting to spy on the adjacent table's two Indian mens' conversation. They were (probably H1B visa) programmers. They talked about food. One ate meat, the other not. The one that didn't related an experience on July 4th shortly after coming to USA where his host asked him if he wanted a hamburger, and he agreed. Then he saw the red "squishy" patty, and reneged. He'd never seen raw meat before. He'd only seen it cooked, I'd hazard a guess, maybe in commercials.

 

The same no-meat guy, who seemed very engaging and talkative, went on to describe his experience coming back here from a visit to India. He said it seemed like an apocalypse had happened, and how lonely it felt to just see buildings and cars but no people on the streets. Pretty fascinating to me, since I'm crowd phobic to the max. Of course this whole time, I've got my nose in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," so they spoke freely.  :wink:

 

The uthappam were small inferior shadows of themselves with NO vegetables baked/grilled into one surface like my previous experiences. I'm so glad I got some better ones years ago that inspired a dish I have made a hundred times, and everyone who eats them loves.

 

 

I too would be very appreciative of any information any member could give on dosa making and uthappam. I sure would like to be able to make them at home with the equipment I have. I have Googled away for years, but it just doesn't seem to be a thing that's very easy to do in a Western kitchen without importing specialized equipment from India. These recipes are thousands of years old, though, so I'm sure they didn't have these electric grinding machines back then.

 

I'm hopeful that someone who's experienced in dosa making can educate us Westerners.

Edited by Thanks for the Crepes
Removed broken link 8-20-16 (log)
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> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

I keep dosa batter in the fridge and actually add to it like sour dough, when it starts looking "iffy" I dump it.... We eat it all the time ... This is such a good wrapper for so many things and my husband loves it for breakfast with spiced  eggs inside ..give it a try it is so easy and tasty ! 

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why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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sure thing Crepes here you go 

and my Indian friends tell me I am like an Indian Gramma and "make do" so please do not judge or compare my recipe to something more authentic as I am sure there are much better recipes than this ..this is just my lame version that I like a lot! (it compares just fine to the restaurant dosas ) 

 

but really it is so easy and you do not have to over think it …I soak everything together over night on the counter then put it in a vitamix and blend it unit smooth leave it out until it "smells right" and looks a bit fermented (about 48 hours and I bake with  sourdough so my kitchen is full of yeast …I have never added yeast but if I were going to I would use a pinch of the yeast I used for rice wine (I like the Vietnamese fresh the best for wine) 

so here you go no big science

2 parts rice (no rules I have Korean rice so since you made me hungry for dosa and I am out of batter right now

Korean rice it is 

1 part legume (urad dal is my favorite but if I do not have it I used any lentils at all ..I have used all kinds of beans to make dosa the flavor varies but it is all good ) 

 

a spoon of fenugreek 

a small piece of palm sugar  (my "thing") 

 

rince everything and I soak it together in a jar  overnight ..then right in the vitamix the next day for a whirl until smooth and then 

 

let it sit on the counter until it looks and smells fermented (about 48 hours for me but that is more about your kitchen ) 

 

cook like a crepe and fill it ...

 

my fillings are mostly leftover curried anything 

 

enjoy 

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
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why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Thanks for your reply, hummingbirdkiss,  :smile:

 

But again this recipe calls for expensive equipment which is way out of my ken.

 

I know dosas were made thousands of years ago, and I know they were made without specialty Indian grinders that exist today or a Vitamix. They did not have electricity when these things were invented.

 

I want to know how to make them without expensive equipment. I'm almost sure it is possible. As I said before, much of India suffers from lack of electric power or regular outages. They make dosas everyday, and I would love to know how they do this without expensive equipment.

 

I may be too old to do it, even if given the path, but I'd still like to know how it was/is done.

 

I have a small mortar and pestle, and I suspect that's how they did it, only with a larger one.

Edited by Thanks for the Crepes (log)
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  • 1 month later...

Well, okay ya'll.

 

There's been no more activity on this thread, and I suspect the people I really wanted to hear from are Indians without power or internet connections, so here goes.

 

I just put one 1/2 c. pinto beans and 1 c. basmati rice because that is what I had to soak tonight. Following mostly hummingbirdkiss's instructions. I will risk my ancient blender to grind it. When I start to smell the motor, I'll give it a rest to cool off.

 

Hummingbirdkiss, when you say, "let it sit on the counter until it looks and smells fermented (about 48 hours for me)" do you mean covered or uncovered?

 

Anyone else who can provide input as to covered or uncovered (or anything else at all) :smile: is most welcome and appreciated to reply as well. 

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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Thanks for the crêpes, In India, since decades now a good electrical grinder is a must-have gadget in the kitchen. 

 

Traditionally a stone grinder like this is used, but you can imagine how labour-intensive it is. When I was a kid, my mother used one, but not any more and the same in families around.

 

For the batter, you can cover it but not in an airtight container - there should be some air movement (like for all fermentations). Make sure the batter in batter in not in a draught either.

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I soaked the rice and pintos together, and then tonight I read through the stuff I'd collected years ago and filed away on hard copy in my permanent recipe file. I read just a little, then realized they all called for polished (skinless) urad dal so, I decided I'd better peel the pinto beans. I surely was grateful I'd decided to make a small batch for this experiment with only 1/2 c. pintos. I really wished I had read a little further at the point,  when before I ground anything, I did read more and realized all the recipes/instructions called for the legumes and rice to be ground separately.

 

Well that hadn't happened, so after I had fished every single bean out of the mixture and peeled it (ala Marcella Hazan), I had to go back and separate the beans and rice. After the peeling, which was accomplished while watching "Thelma and Louise" seated at the kitchen table, the separation was a cakewalk.

 

Then I ground them separately in my old Osterizer blender. It wasn't much more difficult than a pitcher of frozen margaritas, but it did require some rests for the electric motor.

 

It was actually harder to grind the rice smooth. I'd been scared of the beans, but they took a much shorter time.

 

I soaked everything together for a couple of days instead of the recommended one to save my blender. I figured It'd be easier to grind and if it wanted to do any fermenting, it could do it whole instead of ground too.

 

That seemed to work well, because it was only on the counter for about five hours before it started really bubbling. I've stuck it into the fridge for tomorrow night's dinner to delay the ferment.

 

I plan to make a spiced mashed potato mixture with peas and separate spinach and Western cheese mixture to stuff them.

 

ETA: Thanks again hummingbirdkiss for your laissez  faire, laid back attitude toward this recipe. This would never have happened without your post. I get too scared of things, like crepes and Indian crepes. But I will walk to the Indian grocery and buy polished urad dal next time, because it's just easier and less time consuming than peeling pintos, even though they seem to be working well so far.

Edited by Thanks for the Crepes (log)

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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I cooked some dosa tonight. The first one was way too thick and not salty enough, so I added water and salt. The next one was thinner and still not salty enough for me, but I was afraid to add too much salt and interfere with the fermentation. I kept adding water between cooking each one, but the last one I cooked still wasn't as paper thin and crisp as the ones from my Indian restaurant. Mine were also much lacier with bigger bubbles and holes. Maybe paper thin style dosa are better left to the experts, but mine were certainly satisfactory, quite good in fact.

 

My potato filling was much tastier than the bland, soggy version I was offered and did not eat at the restaurant last time, so overall, I'm happy with my results, and will cook some more dosa tomorrow with the leftover batter.

 

Many thanks to everyone who offered inspiration and advice.

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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I made more dosa tonight and served them to my husband for the first time. I had kept the filling very capsaicin tame for him. He didn't join me last night because he was sick, and I could crank out a ham and grilled cheese quicker before he retired to bed.

 

He liked them and agreed to have a couple more for lunch tomorrow.

 

He did comment about there not being any meat in it, but acknowledged that they were very good anyway.

 

I ate one plain, and I have to tell you, that the flavor was much better today. No longing for more salt, just plenty of flavor on its own.

 

So I still conclude that if you want paper thin dosa, you should go to a restaurant. If you want a tasty, thin accessible wrapper make regular crepes.

 

I agree with Suvir Sarin's (legacy member) comments upthread that usually dosas aren't really as good at home.

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks for your video, GlorifiedRice.

 

Bhavna is adorable, and provides a very good shortcut to this ancient dish. They seem a bit thick and lumpy.

 

I'm still left thinking that the paper dosas I love are better had from restaurants, and I'm extremely disappointed after a bunch of research on this subject. Perhaps they (restautants) have expensive and better equipment that enables them to crank out these thin lovelies? I am quite used to being able to make something better at home than is available in restaurants, at least the ones I can afford. That's usually because I put more love and passion into the effort. This is one instance where I have to still agree with Suvir Sarin.

 

I'm still very grateful for your input on this subject. I've bookmarked your post, and next time I try this, it will be a guide, but I'll try to find urad dal flour at the Indian grocery.

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  • 1 year later...

Dosa here Dosa there Dosa everywhere! 

 

TFtC

What an interesting discussion to be invited into. Thank you. I love dosa as well. And have plenty of my own to say on it. :)

GRINDING: 

Traditionally, a stone mill that was turned by hand, was used to make the idli dosa batter. A Ragado like the video in one of the earlier posts was prized in every home and one day of the week was designated for this early morning grinding. It was time consuming, and laborious. But those very acts of sitting on the floor and grinding by hand brought all the necessary calorie burn that was needed to eat such carb laden glories! 

We had a meat grinder in our home, a hand cranked device that we used to partially grind the bulk of the rice and dal before employing a grinding stone. And our meat grinder had never seen meat, it was always a vegetarian grinder :)

But the jump to an Osterizer Blender was a leap! And the oster machine was fine for making perfect dosa. 

Now we get Wet Grinders that mimic the stone grinder and make even smoother batter. The two brands I know are Ultra and Premier. 

Vitamix works as well. Very well. 

But there is another solution. And one that is being used in India as well: buy ready made batter! 

 

This is a godsent time saver. Check your indian store. Some of the brand names are Shasta, Ganesh, Kaveri. 

 

SIZE

Just accept it: The restaurants have huge six burner sized flat griddles. And the paper dosa is made on that surface. Hence it is huge! At home we have a skillet. And we make Sada Dosa or plain dosa with or without fillings. 

 

SPREADING 

 

Dosa are made on a cast iron seasoned pan at home. The pan must be hot. Sprinkle some water onto the hot griddle and see each drop bubble up into a tiny ball. Thats the temperature you want. Put a ladleful of dosa batter on the surface and count to ten under your breath. Then with the back of the ladle cup gently swirl the batter from the center outwards. In a circular motion. The ladle must only skim the surface of the batter, never move the base of the batter. 

The dosa cooks with no oil needed. You may flip both sides. If you add a few drops of oil, it makes it easier on you. 

 

INGREDIENTS

 

1. Traditional: 

parboiled short grain rice (Ponni) 

and skinned Urad Dal ( Vigna mungo or Black gram)

4:1

 

2. Lighter Batter:

3:1 combination

 

3. Pesarratu: 

My version:

Rice ( same)

green mung beans with skin on

3:1

 

4. Adai: 

My version:

three dals mung, urad, channa dal. Equal portions no rice. 

 

More later

Bhukhhad

 

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@Bhukhhad,

 

Thank you so much for your valuable contribution to this thread! I am so grateful.

 

I was sort of looking to make my own batter with the equipment I have, but I have seen prepared dosa batter in my Indian grocer. It looks homemade, as in someone's home. They also offer samosa's at the checkout counter, unrefrigerated on a big tray under aluminum foil. I am sure neither of these things is strictly according to our local health department rules. I'm also sure I am not going to turn them in, as I so appreciate their presence in our community, and hope they prosper.

 

I am so glad you have joined the eGullet community and are being so generous with your knowledge of Indian cuisine. :)

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TFTC

May I say something about your post? About the 'homemade' goods....

Have faith in the system dear friend, the system has been built on good principles and it will endure. That is my belief. And here is why I say this: 

I dont have any factual information about unlicensed vendors selling goods at ethnic stores. But dont deny that it could have been a possibility many years ago and may still be in a few stores. But by and large it will not be unlicensed or unfollowing of laws. 

The Indian community in the USA is not so new anymore, but the other immigrant communities like the Chinese and Italian among others are here since many many years. Healthcare laws and licensure laws apply to everyone. And there is security and vigilance around these laws. By now, all businesses abide by these rules, else the business itself will perish. 

Why do I say this? Because at some point I too had misgivings about buying products from ethnic stores and wondering if they were safe. But by and large established stores dont have produce that may be 'iffy', and healthcare regulations make certain that whoever prepares food items for sale is licensed and their facilities are checked. So I have not seen home cooked food vended in stores for a long time now. They are all branded, with addresses, expiry lables, and license numbers to their business. I agree Inwould not buy them otherwise. 

I do believe small businesses have begun to flourish and offer batches of batter, sprouts, peeled pomegranate seeds, packaged curry leaves etc and they have licenses for these and display healthcare permits. In my town too the Indian store has a daily vendor who comes in with packets of chapatti's, and trays of Samosa and Vada. But that vendor too has a license and his facility displays a valid health permit. 

Of course caution is always good sense. And I am probably preaching to the choir here so forgive me. 

I am just grateful to find a few people I can share my foodie ideas with. 

Many thanks

Bhukhhad

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22 minutes ago, Bhukhhad said:

@TFTC

Did I somehow say something wrong? I was left with the impression that I became idealistic. Please take my writing with a big pinch of salt mirchi and methi

:)

Bhukhhad

From my point of view, you should not worry - nothing you said is offensive. I agree with @Thanks for the Crepes that you are making some interesting and valuable contributions to egullet. Don't worry if a person does not respond to your posts quickly - or even at all. Some of us are on line a lot and some of us only at intervals. Please keep posting. 

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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