Monday, July 26, 2010

Playing Indian

In India I became besotted with Masala Dosa, a crispy rice pancake, often filled with spicy potato and served with a small bowl of soup and coconut chutney and served as a snack or for breakfast. Ever since, it has been a misson of mine to be able to replicate the recipe.

Wild Fermentation  by Sandor Katz contains a recipe for the dosa batter, which is also used to make Idliis, a steamed dumpling. So a new jar appeared on the work bench, it was pink in colour and over the next few days began to bubble. The coconut chutney recipe, which can also be fermented, or not, was on the following page. Was I excited! I had been making the masala potato recipe for years as a side dish to curries, so we began to experiment cooking dosa with our crepe pan which is flat like a tava. The results were tasty, but not as crispy, or a large as the real thing. The chutney was fabulous but I had no leads on making the soup.
In an Indian supermarket in the city, not only did I find a non stick tava, but a spice blend for making the soup, or rasam. Another dosa making session, this time larger ones but still not crispy. I tried oil on the pan, oil brushed around the edges and thinning the batter which made lovely lacey dosas. The only crispy ones were the ones left next to the wood stove overnight. They were much appreciated by the chickens! 
The quest continues.
Here’s the recipe for the chutney which I have adapted slightly from the original...
Coconut Chutney

1 C dessicated coconut, soaked in ½ C warm water to soften.
3 Tbsp chickpea flour, toasted in a frypan till it begins to smell nutty and turn golden.

2 Tbsp tamarind puree
1tsp salt
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
1Tbsp honey or sugar
1Tbsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds                     
1 C kefir or yoghurt

In a blender process coconut, chickpea flour, spices, tamarind and honey.
Fry the mustard seeds in the oil until they begin to pop and stir in half the yoghurt and stir to combine.
Add to the blender with the rest of the yoghurt and process until combined.
Add extra yoghurt or water if the mixture seems too dry.
You can eat it now, or cover with a piece of cheese cloth and let it ferment for a couple of days before storing in the refrigerator.

Serve with dosas, samosas, curries, on toast....on everything...I love this chutney!

Masala Potatoes
2 Tbsp oil
1tsp black mustard seed
10 curry leaves, preferably fresh
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp grated ginger
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 crown onions, diced
500g peeled potatoes, cut in even 2cm cubes
1 Tbsp tamarind puree

Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds, cooking until they pop.
Add the rest of the spices, chillies and onions and cook until the onion is soft.
Add the potato cubes and a cup of water to the pan, bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the potatoes are cooked and the liquid has vanished.
Add more water if you need to in order to cook the potatoes until soft.
Stir in tamarind and season with salt.
A quicker method is to pre boil your potatoes but frying gives a more authentic flavour.
Add yoghurt to any cooled leftovers to create a tasty potato salad.
If anyone has a tip for crispy dosas, please let me know...
Enjoy your cooking.

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