On the weekends, my family enjoys an Indian breakfast as much as they like a Western breakfast. Even though there is a huge number of choices for an Indian breakfast we usually end up with some sort of a dosa at the table. This morning was no exception and we had rava dosas for breakfast, with a side of coconut chutney.
‘Rava‘ is an Indian word for semolina and is a wheat product. In India and in most Indian grocery stores, you have a choice of buying rava that is usually coarse textured, medium textured and fine textured. This recipe uses a fine textured rava that I get from my local Indian grocery store.
A dosa is a thin flatbread that is mostly made in the south of India. Dosas may be made from fermented or non-fermented batter. Some examples of fermented dosas are the popular Masala Dosa or a not-so-popular but heavenly soft Kerala Appam which is made with a ground mixture of rice and coconut milk. Dosas made from a fermented batter require some planning ahead, however if you want instant gratification, you should be aware that a lot of well-stocked Indian grocery stores sell pre-made fermented dosa batter in their refrigerated section. Non-fermented dosas are typically made with a combination of a mixture of flours and water/yogurt/coconut milk. This recipe is made with a non-fermented batter and is quick to put together.
A good rava dosa has a texture that is a lovely balance between crisp and soft. The crispness is typically from using fine textured rava, rice flour or finger millet (called ragi) flour, while the softness is introduced by using flours such as all-purpose flour or chickpea flour (also called besan). Flavor factors are – finely chopped onions, ginger and green chilli paste, herbs like cilantro and curry leaves, spices like cumin and crushed black pepper, and asafetida or hing for the umami taste. The flavor factors are entirely optional but are commonly added to a rava dosa. Water is primarily used to make the batter, while buttermilk or yogurt is sometimes added to introduce a mild tangy taste. Some cooks will squeeze a few drops of lime juice into the batter in case there is no buttermilk or yogurt on hand.
The batter should be of pouring consistency and be on the thinner side. The best cooking pan for a dosa is a well seasoned and flat cast iron pan or griddle. Today I used a non-stick pan to make my dosas and that works well too. The pan must be preheated before pouring the dosa batter. You know you have optimal temperature when a few drops of water sprinkled on the pan sizzle and evaporate in 2-3 seconds. I have described in more detail in the recipe below on how to pour the dosa batter on to the pan and cook it. It is most convenient to pour the batter using a ladle or small cup which has a lip on the edge, as shown in the picture below. If you don’t have this option, use a measuring cup.
Prep time: 45 min Cooking time: 30 - 45 min Makes 8 - 10 dosas, each roughly 8" - 10" in diameter 3/4 cup fine rava 3/4 cup rice flour 1/4 cup all purpose flour 1/3 cup finely diced onion 2-4 curry leaves, sliced thin 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro 1 tsp ginger paste 1 tsp jalapeno paste 1 tsp whole cumin 1/4 tsp asafetida (optional) 3.5 - 4 cups water salt to taste In a large measuring cup or bowl, starting with 3.5 cups water, combine all ingredients, using a wire whisk or a wooden spoon. Let sit for 30 minutes. There is a tendency for the heavier ingredients to sink to the bottom of the pan, so stir well after 30 minutes. Adjust water by 1/4 cup or so if necessary to ensure a consistency like a french crepe batter. Preheat a cast iron pan or a non-stick pan. You know the pan is ready for the dosa batter when you sprinkle a bit of water on the pan and it sizzles right away and evaporates in 2-3 seconds. Take about 1/2 cup of the dosa batter in a ladle with a pouring edge. Starting from the outer edge and progressing anti-clockwise (clockwise if you are left-handed), imagine you are drawing circles of decreasing diameter that converge at the center; pour the batter evenly onto the pan. Another analogy that is close is to pretend the path of your pouring batter is following the shell of a nautilus, from the outer edge to the inner edge. Spread about 1 tsp ghee, vegetable oil, or coconut oil over the surface of the dosa. When you can see golden edges, carefully run a spatula along the edges of the dosa to release it. Fold along the diameter and serve hot with coconut chutney. Repeat the same steps to make more dosas. IMPORTANT - stir the batter before you dip your ladle into it to make a new dosa.