Delectably crisp crepes! – The penta-grain dosa

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I started this blog because I am so interested in adapting traditional Indian recipes to make them healthier, tastier and easier-to-make. During the course of my writings, I have started to solicit reader recipes, since many minds work better than one! Here is a post written by my mother, Madhuram – recipe courtesy, my sister, Indu Sundaresan, author of four books – “The Twentieth wife“, “The Feast of Roses“, “The Splendor of Silence” and “In the Convent of Little Flowers” with a fifth on the way.
Every culture in the world has some sort of crepe or pancake in its recipe repertoire. In South India, it is the ‘dosa.’ Served in almost all Indian restaurants the world over, the dosa is a fermented batter of rice and a dal (lentils), served usually with sambar (a stew of vegetables and lentils) and different types of chutneys.

When I was young, my brothers and sisters (I come from a family of 10 children!) would wait eagerly by the stove as our mother or grandmother made us piping hot dosas, swept off the pan, crisp, golden and crunchy. When I had children, and learned to cook, dosas were a favorite Sunday treat for them.

Now my daughters make this for their children and below is a recipe concocted by my daughter Indu—more tasty and nutritious than the usual recipe—for her daughter.

The original recipe has only two grains in it—rice and urad dal (black lentils). My daughter’s recipe has five grains to increase the nutrition content of the original dosa—white rice, brown rice, mung dal and whole urad dal and pearl barley in center (shown below, clockwise from white rice on top right corner).

Brown rice is a good source of minerals such as manganese, magnesium, also contains Niacin and has a lower glycemic index than white rice. Barley is loaded with fiber, has no sodium, is very rich in iron and has hardly any fat. Mung dal (split yellow lentils) is rich in protein, dietary fiber and minerals like magnesium, phosphorous and potassium, and urad dal is full of protein.

Here’s the recipe for this Penta-grain Dosa. This can be served with any chutney or even folded with scrambled eggs, or spread with cream cheese, or hummus, or stuffed with mashed potatoes.

Here is what you need:

1/2 cup white rice
1/2 cup brown rice
1/4 cup pearl barley
1 1/4 cup yellow mung dal (equal to the mixture of the brown and whiter rice and barley)
3/4 cup whole urad dal (husked black lentils)
3/4 tsp salt

This will make about 12 to 15 dosas of about 8″diameter. If lesser quantity is needed, use less ingredients, but in the same proportions.

Here is how you make the batter:

Combine the white and brown rice, barley and mung dal in a big bowl and fill with water. Swirl water around and drain to wash the grains. Repeat twice more until water runs clean. Then fill enough water in the bowl to cover about 2 inches above the grains, and let the mixture rest thus overnight.

Put the urad dal in a separate bowl and follow the washing and soaking instructions as above. Fill the bowl with water at the end and let it rest overnight also.

In a blender, grind the first grain mixture with a little water—should grind fine and to a thick batter consistency. Set aside in a large steel bowl or an oven-proof deep dish.

Grind the urad dal with some water also, again to a thick batter consistency. Stir in the urad dal batter with the grain batter. Mix well. Add ¾ to 1 tsp of salt and mix again.

Here is how you ferment the batter:

If the kitchen/room temperature is below 70 degrees F, heat oven to 140 degrees, switch it off, let cool awhile until inside of oven is warm and set the batter bowl inside. Make sure you cover the bowl well with aluminum foil or an oven-proof lid.

Let the batter ferment for 6-8 hours. Upon uncovering the bowl, the batter should have risen an inch or so and become foamy on the top.

This batter can now be refrigerated and used when wanted, or used immediately.

Here is how you make the dosas:
Heat a frying pan or a pancake griddle until hot (but not smoking). Pour a big ladleful of the batter and spread immediately into every widening circles with the flat side of the ladle.

Drizzle a little oil around the edges of the dosa and a little in the center. Keep the flame on a medium to medium high so that the dosa does not burn. When the edges begin to look golden and curl up from the pan slightly (about a minute or so), flip the dosa over to cook the other side for another minute or so.

Take off the griddle—the dosa should be crisp and gold on the edges, a little softer in the middle. Serve with coconut chutney, spicy tomato chutney, sambar, or any of the other accompaniments suggested above.  Enjoy!

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