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Our Latest Adventure into Staple Crop Culinary Creations – Dosas! Fermented Lentil and Rice Crêpes Hailing from Southern India

Eleanor H.

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Essentially dosas transform a thick, slightly grainy batter into an Indian version of crêpes - 3 parts rice to 1 part lentil blended together and allowed to ferment overnight then quick cooked into thin crispy pancakes. We rolled ours with our homemade curried apple chutney and a chickpea masala and speculated they'd be tasty with the red bean paste we made awhile back for the akara, demonstrating the versatility of this dish is in its fillings. Delicious and amazingly simple, dosas definitely earned “make again” status for recipes using homegrown staple crops.

Since it was our first foray into this dish I used 3 cups rice to 1 cup lentils, we cooked half dozen or so dosas and have a LOT of batter remaining, enough to make at least 18 more big dosas, so adjust your quantities accordingly... for the sake of convenience, this post uses the 3 cups to 1 cup ratio.

Recipe Ingredients
    • rice and lentils in a 3 to 1 ratio
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • an oil for cooking – I used ghee but it is reported butter, peanut oil, and EVOO work just as well
    • fillings of your choice – chutney, masala, …
      1. Rinse both the rice and the lentils until the water runs clear. In separate bowls, soak each for several hours to soften. (Keep some of the soaking water.)
      2. Grind the lentils into a “fluffy”, pillowy paste – I used a blender, adding small amounts of the soaking water to keep the blades moving.
      3. Grind the rice into the consistency of sand.
      4. Blend the two using the soaking water as needed to create a slightly thick batter.
      5. Allow the batter to ferment. In our March cool kitchen, I let it sit overnight in the oven with the light on; in warmer temperatures I suspect less time is needed. Fermentation gives the batter a tang, similar to the process of sourdough – the longer the ferment, the tangier...
        1. Prior to cooking the batter, mix in ~ 1 tablespoon salt.
        2. Cook like crêpes – there are quite a few videos online that demonstrate this technique. We use a Lodge cast iron round skillet with a crêpe spreader and spatula.
        3. Brush the hot skillet lightly with the cooking oil. Using a ladle, pour 1⁄2 cup batter into center of pan. Immediately spread the batter from the center toward the edge of the pan using a circular motion, creating a thin pancake.dosa cooking on cast iron skillet shown with spreader
        4. Drizzle ghee around the edge and on surface of the dosa, flipping the pancake to cook the other side when the edges lift easily, for a total cook time of 3-4 minutes and each side is golden.                                     golden crispy dosa on cast iron skillet
        5. Serve immediately – rolling with a filling of your choice, or you can remove dosa onto a wire rack to cool in batches (initially we cooled on a plate but the hot dosa on the cold plate created sweat which lead to sogginess) and serve with warmed fillings.                                                                 filled dosas, cut to show fillings, ready for eating
        6. It is reported any remaining batter can be chilled up to a week or frozen for 3 months.

          We enjoyed ours with our homemade curried apple chutney and a chickpea masala but these delights lend themselves well to myriad of fillings.

          And why not be creative? For a fusion flare use as is in place of tortillas. Swap lentils for black beans or chickpeas... or wheat berries in place of rice? Let us know!

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