Whipping up a fresh batch of these delicious south Indian pancakes requires a well-prepared dosa batter. Consisting of fermented black lentils and rice batter, this batter is a traditional tasty accompaniment to many Indian dishes.
A long history
The South Indian and Tamil people have been making dosa batter for over two thousand years. Historians indicate that the dosa originated in present-day Karnataka around the 1st century AD. The Tamil dosa was softer and thicker but the tasty version appreciated today is thinner and crispier. There is even a recipe for dosa batter in a 12th-century Sanskrit encyclopedia that was written by the ancient Indian ruler Someshvara III.
Dosa batter is fermented, which is a process that was used before the invention of refrigeration to prevent food from going bad. The cultivated organisms and yeast in the batter prevent any other bacteria from growing, therefore preserving food for longer. Today it is estimated that there are over six hundred versions of dosas. As a result of the fermentation process required to make dosa batter, this has an additional benefit of helping the body absorb more nutrients.
How this versatile batter is made
The simple ingredients of rice, black lentils, fenugreek seeds and salt to taste are soaked overnight in water and then drained and beaten to a batter consistency. The dosa batter is rested in a warm dark area for about eight hours. This last step triggers the fermentation process and once completed, your batter is ready for cooking. A skillet or frying pan is used to thinly spread the batter and oil is drizzled on top. Once one side is cooked, it is then flipped over to become golden on the other side too. You can also use butter instead of oil for a sweeter end result.
Dosas are served hot and fresh with tasty vegetable soup, sambar and spicy chutney. You can eat them with your hands or with a knife and fork. Break off delicious pieces and dip them into the sides served with them or wrap a piece around a piquant masala potato. Alternatively, you can enjoy them as a savoury-sweet pancake by drizzling them with some syrup.
Hungry? Sample this morsel
Lovers of Indian food suggest you dip your pieces of dosa in one at a time to better savour the flavours of each side dish.
Order your Indian dosa from Curry Gardenn (Stevens) or Sutha’s Cafe with all the available side dishes and you will soon be tucking into a hot satisfying meal. Not so hungry and just hankering for a tasty snack? Then why not eat this fermented pancake alone or with a single side?