I love eating South Indian food – dosas, idlis, etc. And luckily my kids love it too. If Andrew is out of town, we often go to our favourite dosa place in Sydney and indulge without the need to have to twist any arms first. I have never managed to make them at home – not to the crispy perfection that I want anyway…until this last attempt. This crispy little rice and lentil number was pretty good, and even the kids agreed!
I soaked some basmati rice and urad dal (I didn’t have the split version without the skin, so used the whole version – the skins are the little flecks you can see in the mixture). Urad dal is a white lentil – when de-skinned and split it looks like a white version of the split mung bean, and when whole looks like a black mung bean. The proportions I used were 3/4 cup of dal to 1 and 3/4 cups of rice. After soaking and grinding separately, I combined the two batters together with a little salt and left it overnight to ferment slightly and rise. My aim was to make idlis (steamed little cakes with this batter), but the next morning I decided to use some of the batter for my breakfast – to fry it into a little dosa (pancake). The results were so impressive that the kids had some for breakfast too.
So here is what I learned as the trick to making them:
- You need a non stick pan. I started with my heavy cast iron Le Creuset, but it didn’t really work (not without using tons of oil or ghee which I didn’t want to do).
- After adding a little oil or ghee to the pan (or using spray oil), add the batter and move it around fairly quickly with the back of a spoon to spread evenly across the pan. Then leave it alone to cook, uncovered.
- Allow it to cook on one side until it lifts easily off the pan. I think this was my biggest mistake in the past – I always tried to lift it off the pan too early resulting in broken bits of uncooked mess. Such a simple thing, makes such a huge difference!
- At this stage it is pretty much cooked enough. You can flip it over and cook it for a few minutes on its other side, but this is probably unnecessary and may dry it out too much. You are after something that is very crisp on the outside and a tiny bit soft on the inside.