Monday, November 2, 2009

onion rava masala dosai and sambhar

I've been working on two blog posts, one of my last meal in Halifax, onion rava masala dosai, which I am posting here now.  And one on my first meal in London, dal and cauliflower curry, which I'll post tomorrow.  This recipe is for dosai, potato curry and sambhar!  I've tried to write it the way I made it so that everything is ready at the right time.  I also recommend reading it all the way through before you begin because there are a lot of parts.  But I promise, it's not that hard.

Did you guys see in the new and last Gourmet that they had a recipe for Rava dosai?!  Theirs was all wrong.  Way too much flour.  And peas and chickpeas in the potato masala?!  Quelle horreur!

onion rava masala dosai and sambhar
Takes 2 hours
Makes enough for 4

Begin with the sambhar, because as it's simmering, you can get everything else ready.  You can also make the sambhar ahead of time, because it only gets better as it sits.

chinna vengyam sambhar (little onion sambhar)
1 cup toor dal
golf-ball size tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup hot water for about 15 minutes
1 pound baby onions
2 big tomatoes, quartered
1 tbsp sambhar powder*
1 green or red chili
salt to taste
1 tsp. mustard seeds
curry leaves from one stem
1 dried red chilli (or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper)
2 shakes aesofotida
freshly chopped corriander leaves for garnish

In a medium saucepan, bring the lentils and 3 cups of water to a boil.  Lower heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  While it's cooking, chop the ends off of the onions, and peel.  I find it helpful to have a bowl of water nearby to put the onions in once they are peeled.  They are so potent those little ones!

In another pot, heat oil on medium high heat.  When hot, add baby onions, saute until slightly translucent.  Add sambhar powder, chili and tomatoes, and the tamarind juice.  Squeeze all the tamarind juice and pulp from the remaining harder bits.  Add an additional 2 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer.

When the dal is ready, add it to the other pot.  Continue cooking at a simmer, until it is well-blended and smelling so delicious.  You can jump at this point to the other parts of the meal.  At some point you will have to add the other ingredients.  Here's what you do when you are ready for that part:

In a little pan, heat a little oil on medium high heat.  When hot, add the mustard seeds.  As soon as they start sizzling, add the dried chili, the curry leaves and the asofetida.  As soon as they start popping, pour it all into the sambhar.

This can sit while you are making other things, like the dosai.

Onion rava dosai
1 c. rava (semolina)
1/2 c. rice flour
1/4 c. yogurt
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 green chili, sliced fine
1 onion, diced fine
curry leaves, if you have them

Combine all ingredients and add water, 4 to 5 cups, it will depend on the consistency of the yogurt you use, so it is better to add 3 cups of water first, mix it together and then decide. The batter should be very runny, it should fall easily from the spoon. The real test will be when you make your first dosai.

Leave the batter sit while you make the potato curry.

potato curry
1 tbsp. channa dal
1 onion, diced
1 green chili, sliced lengthwise
4 medium-large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tsp. turmeric
2 shakes asofetida
1/2 tsp. red chili powder
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high. When the oil is hot, add the the channa dal, and toast until they are fragrant and light brown. Add the onions and green chili. When the onions are translucent, add the potatoes, turmeric, asofetida, chili powder and salt. Saute until the potatoes are evenly coated and everything is very fragrant. Add a cup of water, cover, and let cook for about 10 minutes. Check at this point for salt, if the curry needs more water, and how well the potatoes are done. Adjust as necessary. Cook for about 5 minutes more, depending on doneness of potatoes. It will be ready when the potatoes hold their shape, but are soft around the edges and in a sea of yummy yellow potato curry. When finished, squeeze lime on potatoes and sprinkle with cilantro.

Back to the dosai.

The most important thing about making dosais is to have your pan at the right heat and your batter the right consistency. Heat a skillet to almost but not quite high and add just enough oil to lightly coat the pan. Stir your batter, and when you think the pan is ready, spoon a small amount onto the griddle. It should immediately make a lacy round. If it runs everywhere, your heat is too low. If it sticks and doesn't have holes, then the heat is too high. Another problem can be your batter. If the pan seems hot enough, but holes are still not forming, then add water to the batter.

When you think you are ready for a real dosai: quickly ladle one spoon of batter (we use a 1/2 cup measure) onto the griddle to make a circle.  It doesn't matter what shape your dosai is really, as long as the dosai is thin and crispy and delicious.

Add a little extra oil to the dosai as it cooks for extra crispiness. Swirl the pan around so the oil coasts all the edges, and even spread to the inner holes of the dosai.

When it has fried for about 2 minutes, or the edges are easy to lift from the griddle, flip it over. This is mostly to admire your handiwork. What had been the bottom should be a deliciously golden brown lacework of yumminess. After a minute flip it over again. Place a spoonful of the potato curry in the middle of the dosai, flip one side of the dosai over it, and serve with a bowl of hot sambhar.

Keep making dosais, about 12 in all. Keep stirring the batter as it will separate.

The batter keeps well, better than cooked dosais.

I wish I had some now...

* some words on sambhar powder.  Ours is ground for us at my family's mill in Chidambaram.  If you can't stop by Veeraraghavanaickan Street for some, I suggest MTR brand.  It's from Tamil Nadu, unlike other spices.  Or 777, I think, makes some powders.  Otherwise, this very nice blog has a recipe for sambhar powder.  Some friends and I made some recently, not according to this recipe, but a similar one, and it came out beautifully!

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