Sunday, September 20, 2009


We were thrilled when Debyi of Healthy Vegan Kitchen announced the Daring Cooks challenge this month: Dosas. And they had to be vegan. And gluten free. This seemed exactly like what I wanted from participating in the Daring Cooks - the impetus to make something that we really like to eat, but would never have considered cooking on our own. Not to mention the additional dairy/meat/gluten constraints.

So Debyi published a lovely recipe which we intended to follow, honestly - and our fellow Daring Cooks that did follow it closely reported that it was good. But there were parts of it that didn't feel authentically Indian (as if I would really know, but oregano???). Furthermore, the traditional way of making dosas with ground lentils and rice seemed more authentic and true to the spirit of challenging ourselves. And then I saw a recipe for rava dosas, which involve rava (semolina I think - at least that's what I used) and rice flour. We had to try those too - so we ended up making 2 different types of dosa, two fillings, and then a sambar, two chutneys and an avocado sauce (thus contradicting ourselves, since I don't know that avocado sauce is authentically Indian either. Oh well.) It was all vegan, though the rava dosas fail the gluten-free test.

Marvellous. Every last bite. Even though I always have to try to decide which item I like best, I couldn't pick a winner. If you like Indian food, you'll love these. If you don't think you like Indian food, I honestly bet that you would like these. I personally am gun-shy about Indian food as I have had so many bad curries. This isn't one of them; no curry powder was involved in the making of this dinner. Just try it.

Neither dosa recipe is a good choice for getting a meal on the table in the next 30 minutes, but neither requires a whole lot of fuss and attention, just time. If you're in a hurry(ish) go for the rava dosa - it can be made in a much shorter time than the other (nameless) one. It's pretty much like a crepe: make the batter, let it stand an hour, then cook away. The others take about 2 days just to get to the point to cook. Still, try them sometime. it's easy, tasty, healthy, cool, possibly something new. It doesn't get much better than that, does it?

So, the recipe line-up:

Rava Dosas
Onion-Potato Subji (filling)
Curried Garbanzo (filling)
Avocado Sauce
Tamarind Chile chutney
Mint ginger chile chutney

Note on quantities: we made the recipes below as described and I think that all told it would have served at least 10 people. Some of the ingredients do require a trip to the local Indian store if you have one, otherwise, substitute as you think is appropriate.

left: "Regular" Dosa
right: Rava Dosa


This recipe was from Indian Food Forever.  To the gringo like me, the closest analogy to these guys would be a buckwheat crepe. Not that they taste like buckwheat, but they had that solid texture and a similar color.

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
1/2 cup uncooked urad dal (black lentils)
1 Tbsp salt

Soak the rice and the dal separately overnight or up to 24 hours. Scoop some of the rice and some of the dal into a blender and puree with just a bit of water (less than covering the solids but enough to not choke your blender) to puree the mixture. You want it to be reasonably smooth. Mine came out pretty much like a thin milkshake. Pour into a clean bowl and repeat to blend all the rice and lentils. Add salt. Cover your batter and then leave it on the counter for another 12 hours or so.

Overall, I wish our dosas had been thinner, so I would shoot for a thin pancake batter in consistency - add water as you see fit. To cook, heat the oil in a cast iron skillet or large griddle if you have one. Pour the batter in a spiral from the outside in, don't immediately worry if there are gaps. To fill in the gaps we found it best to let the base cook just a bit, then use the ladle to smooth batter into them.

Cook until lightly browned, then flip and brown the other side (Or not; we did, but I have read that there are those who only cook them on one side). This will take about 4-5 min. Be patient. Once cooked, fill, and then pop them in the oven to keep warm until you're ready to serve.

Rava Dosas
This recipe was adapted from Sailus Food, where there is an excellent description of how to cook the dosas. These dosas were much lighter in texture and slightly holey, though not in a bad way. These are a bit more like a traditional french crepe.

2 cups semolina/rava
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 scallions, sliced paper thin
1 red chile pepper, sliced thin
2 tsp salt
6 cups water

Combine all ingredients except for the oil and then let sit for an hour. It should be the consistency of buttermilk.

Add water as needed to thin it, or let it sit a little longer if you need it to thicken. The flour settles out quickly on this one - you'll want to stir it occasionaly and to keep it stirred during the cooking process.

To cook: heat oil in your cast iron skillet or griddle, and then cook as directed above. These dosas may take a little less time, but you still want to brown them like a pancake. It may help to brush a little oil around the edges if they are a bit sticky.

left: Curried Garbanzo filling
right: Potato Onion Subji

Potato Onion Subji
This recipe is adapted from Indian Food Recipes from Bharathi's Kitchen. It is the filling for the classic Dosa Masala. Like many dishes with complex flavors, this one is best if you can make it in advance then reheat at serving time.

3 medium russet potatoes
1 medium onion
1 jalapeno pepper
10 curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 1/4 tsp split peas
1 tsp urud dal
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 Tbsp oil
2 tsp salt

Peel the potatoes, cut into large chunks and boil until cooked through.

Slice the onions into radial cuts and slice the pepper thinly. In a saucepan, toast the mustard seed, split peas and dal until browned. Add the onions and peppers and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the curry leaves and cook another minute.

Drain the potatoes, then dice into roughly 1/2" pieces (smaller than a typical potato salad). Stir into the oinion/spice mix, add salt and make sure that it's all blended. Add water if you need to moisten it.

Curried Garbanzo Filling
Again, this one is best if made ahead a bit. No worries if you don't have time for that though.

2 cups dried garbanzo beans (or 2 cans of garbanzos)
1 large tomato
2 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp tomato paste
2 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp salt
1 anaheim chile, diced

Soak the garbanzo beans overnight. Rinse and then cook in a saucepan until soft, about an hour.

Dice the tomato and saute in oil with ginger until it thickens slightly. Add the tomato paste and chile peppers and saute until the peppers have softened.

Separately, toast the cumin and fenugreek seeds, then grind in a mortar and pestle. Add spices, salt and coconut milk to the beans, then cook another 10 min.

Avocado Sauce

2 medium avocados
juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup soy milk (remember, this was vegan, you can use whatever you want)

Bash up the avocadoes. Puree with the lime juice, add cilantro and salt to taste. Dilute with soy milk until it is very thick but pourable.

Tamarind Chile Chutney
This recipe is adapted from Indian Food Recipes from Bharathi's Kitchen.
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup tamarind paste
1 Tbsp cilantro
1 long red chile
1 tsp red lentils
4-5 curry leaves

Toast the lentils, then crush with a mortar and pestle. Add the chopped chile and mash to a smooth paste. Add the curry leaves (removing any stalky bits) and mash. Add the coconut, tamarind and cilantro, then mix well. Salt to taste.

Mint Ginger Chile Chutney

1/2 - 1" knob of ginger, peeled
1 cup mint leaves
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 jalapeno chile
1/4 - 1/2 cup soy milk

Mash up all ingredients except for milk in a mortar and pestle until you get a smooth puree. Add the milk to achieve a just-pourable consistency.

Top: Sambar
Bottom Left: Tamarind Chile Chutney
Bottom Center: Mint Ginger Chile Chutney
Bottom Right: Avocado Sauce

This recipe was adapted from If you can't obtain sambar powder to season the soup, check this website out for a recipe to make the powder.

This soup customarily serves as a sort of dipping sauce for the dosas (assuming you haven't smothered them in avocado sauce like we did). However, mine came out pretty thick and chunky, so not so good for dipping, but even tastier than the restaurant versions that I've had if I say so myself.

1 cup red lentils (toor dal)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp oil
2 tsp tamarind paste
8 curry leaves
5 small dried red chiles
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
1 large tomato
2 Tbsp sambar powder
1 1/2 cup vegetables of choice (I used eggplant, tomatoes and green beans)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Wash the lentils thoroughly. In a large saucepan, heat 2 cups of water, then add the lentils, turmeric and 1 tsp
oil. Cook gently until the lentils are soft - 40-60 min.

In a separate pan, heat 1 tsp oil, then tear the chiles into chunks and add them to the pan. Add also the mustard seed, fenugreek and curry leaves and sautee for 2 minutes. Add the diced onion and cook until lightly browned. When cooked, add to the pan with the lentils (once they are cooked too, of course). Dice the tomato and the vegetables and add them also to the soup. Mix the tamarind paste with 1/4 cup of water and stir into the soup. Add in the sambar powder and cook about 10 minutes until the vegetables have all softened. Add water as needed to achieve your desired consistency.

Remove from heat, stir in the cilantro and serve.

We served our dosa feat with pappadoms on the side. These snacks we also purchased from the Indian shop. It was all I could do not to back up the truck when I took a good look at the label.

To cook, simply microwave 1 pappadom for about 40 seconds.


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1 comment:

  1. Wow! You did some research on this one. Great job!