How to Make a Dosa

I am really excited about this. Today I’ve done something I never thought I would. I have to share it because now I know you can do it, too.

It started about a month ago at Bhakti Fest, where we always have lunch at the Dosa Dosa food truck because they make the world’s best Kichari. They also make the world’s most divine Dosas, and I asked them to show you how. Thankfully, they agreed.

Wah and his father Matamandir, the creative dynamos at Dosa Dosa, were gracious to allow us to interrupt their hot and busy service of feeding hungry Yogis and Kirtan Wallahs. But since we didn’t get their top-secret recipe, I thought I’d do a little research and post some links to go with the video.

Wah-DosaDosa

I never intended, myself, to make a Dosa. Never. In some unconscious place inside of me, surely I thought, you have to be Indian to make a Dosa. You have to be South Indian, for that matter. You even have to be a South Indian grandmother who spent her life practicing Ayurveda’s everyday ways, or her granddaughter well-trained by such a wisdom-keeper.

While editing the video, my husband commented that no one is going to do this at home – no one has that griddle or those instruments, he said – we should just direct readers to Dosa Dosa‘s 5 new food trucks in San Francisco.

How to Make a Dosa

Yes, but I don’t do that on this blog. I don’t set you up, elicit mouth-watering expectations, promote the promise of truth, beauty, love on a plate, only to let you down, hungering for an external, elusive, distant deliciousness, when all of that is already inside of youyou are already delicious. Within you is the power to create untold treasures of beauty and delight, and this realm of your own possibility is as close as your kitchen, as quick as you can roast a sweet potato!

At least I had to offer you a dish. Something you can make that would be enough exotic goodness for you to taste the truth that real food is love, and love’s food is bhakti

coconut cilantro chutney

SweetPotatoMasala

The Potato Pea Masala that fills the Dosa, giving its full name Masala Dosa, seemed like something those of us not schooled since birth in Dosa tradition would be able to master. We could enjoy it with Naan, I reasoned. Which we could buy at the local Indian market… Or we could mix and match cultures, roll it into a tortilla, and call it a Mexican Masala!

I never intended, even as I experimented with my own version of a Masala, ever that I would make a Dosa. We’d just have to make a trip to San Francisco for that, and look forward to having Dosas again at ShaktiFest in May.

how-to-make-a-dosa1

With experimentation, one thing led to another and, spurred on by the challenge of being told “no one will do it…” the next thing you know, I made a Dosa! Now I am making Dosas for breakfast, Dosas for lunch, Dosas for dinner, Dosas for anyone, any time, all the time. I love Dosas!

The photos above and below are my first and second attempts. I am learning as I go, inspired by this Dosa recipe, which looks fastidious because she takes you through step by step, but is actually very easy. You just mix together rice and lentil flour (look for besan, also called gram, at Indian or Asian markets), let it sit overnight, stir in a pinch of salt in the morning, and pour it on the skillet. In no time you will have your very own Dosa, on which you can sprinkle cinnamon for a high protein breakfast and any time snack, or fill with the Masala for a hearty, healthy meal.

Sweet Potato Masala Dosa

I swapped sweet potato for the filling, making it healthier, and added fenugreek powder to the Dosa batter. I wanted to add fresh peas, but it is not the season so I slow cooked split peas and added that instead. It lended an earthy taste which balances beautifully with the fresh crunch of the coconut chutney.

To make this user-friendly it’s all written it out below, but certainly follow the links if you want to see more examples of how-to. Be sure that you read through before you start. You want to blend the Dosa flours the day before so they can ferment overnight, and you want your Masala and Chutney ready to fill the Dosas which cook up quick, and are best enjoyed piping hot.

chutney dosa

If you are short on time or access to ingredients, the graciously talented Puja over at IndiaPhile has a Dosa recipe using semolina, which can be substituted with a good gf flour. Her Coconut Chutney is the inspiration for this one, and she has a couple of short, helpful videos showing you how to pour the Dosa batter for success.

SWEET POTATO MASALA
Serves 4

1 sweet potato
1/4 c peas, cooked
1 T ghee 5-6 cashews
1/2 onion, diced
1/8 t mustard seeds
1/4 t cumin seeds
1 t curry powder
1/2 piece thai chile (these are very small, so not too spicy), chopped
1/4 t ginger, grated
1 pinch turmeric
1 pinch asafoetida (or hingvastak; alternative: coriander powder)
1 T cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 475F. Puncture a few fork holes in your sweet potato and bake for 45 minutes, or until a fork inserts easily through the center. When it is done, allow it to cool, then cube into small bites.

Melt the ghee on in a medium flame. Brown the cashews and set aside. In the same pan, with the same oil, add the mustard seeds and cook about 1 minute util the pop. You have to listen closely. Stir in the cumin, curry and onions. Sauté until the onions are golden and soft. Mix in the chili, ginger, turmeric and asafoetida (or coriander). Add the sweet potato. Mash it a bit with the back of a spatula, or large wooden spoon. Stir in the peas and cashews and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro leaves, turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

COCONUT CHUTNEY

3/4 c coconut flakes
1/4 c cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic
1/2 thai chile (with seeds for heat, without for a mild version)
1/2 t curry powder
1 t freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup water Optional: dash of pink salt, or to taste

Put everything into an electric blender and mix until it becomes a creamy consistency. Add more water if needed. Taste and season accordingly.

DOSA
Serves: 4-8

1 1/2 c rice flour
¾ cup dal/besan/gram flour
2 1/2 c water
1 scant t fenugreek powder pinch pink salt
2-3 T ghee

Stir the flours together in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and mix well. Be sure to smooth out any lumps. The consistency will be thick but very watery. Cover and allow to ferment at room temperature overnight for 10 hours or more. Once the batter is fermented, stir in the fenugreek powder and salt and mix well.

Melt 1 T ghee in a large skillet or iron griddle over medium heat. While the ghee heats up, whisk the batter one more time so it is well mixed and quickly ladle it up. Pour into your skillet in a circular motion. When one side of dosa is browned, gently slide your spatula around the edges of the Dosa to loosen it. Flip it and cook the other side. Spoon the Masala filling into the middle, add a spoonful of the coconut chutney and a dollop of yogurt optionally. Fold the Dosa and serve hot.

The leftover Dosa batter can be refrigerated and used within 4-5 days.

skillet sp masala

My first attempt fell apart. I learned not to swirl the pan. On the second attempt, when it started to break apart I filled the cracks with drops of batter. It worked. Another lesson. Be brave. It’s as wonderful in pieces as it is whole. Aren’t we all?

Once you try it, you’ll know why so many Bhakti lovers line up for buttery Kichari and crispy Dosas.

how-to-make-a-dosa

When Dosa Dosa founder Matamandir asked me about my blog and I told him that it’s Ayurvedically inspired with the emphasis on inspired because more than anything I hope to share the nourishing bounty of mother’s love through food, you know how he responded?

“Yes. Never be pedantic. It’s not about following rules. Just cook with love. Then your food will be nourishing and healing. Above all, cook with love. You will taste the difference.”

Above all, cook with love… 

Dosa Dosa is opening 5 food trucks in San Francisco, giving us all another excuse for a road trip. You can find them and their locations here: WebsiteFacebookTwitter.

wah at dosa dosa food truck

I thank Morgan Willis and Miles Demars-Rote of Wellness Gangsters for filming! With immense gratitude to all – Wah, Matamandir, Miles, Anna, Morgan, Bhava, and everyone at Bhakti Fest! 
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I leave you with a taste of Bhakti ~

Do you love Dosas? Do you have tips for us make them better? Please share so we can all learn and grow and continue to be delighted and healed by earth’s love and heaven’s manna.

Above all, do it with love.

Namaste! 

Is that an OM I hear?

Whole Mung

At this time of year, between the holiday feasts, plain and simple has special appeal, when I love nothing more than a warm bowl of Kichari.

Kichari, sometimes spelled Kichidi, is split mung bean and rice cooked long and slow, often with spices and ghee. It is an Ayurvedic staple ~ balancing, tonifying and cleansing.

We often think of foods that tonify, or strengthen, and foods that cleanse and detoxify as utterly distinct. The beauty of Kichari is that it does both. It fortifies and purifies, explaining its reputation as one of the world’s original “Smart Foods.”

Kichari is served to the sick, elderly, overweight, undernourished. It provides most of our daily nutritional needs, is easy to digest, and kindles the digestive fires, making it ideal, too, for post-operative recovery, as it won’t divert energy from the healing. Kichari is such a complete meal that it is often eaten exclusively as a fast. Patients receiving Pancha Karma are put on a Kichari-only regime for the duration of their multi-day Ayurvedic treatments, because it so efficiently supports detoxification.

Despite its medicinal power, Kichari is great comfort food ~ and surprisingly delicious. It is, in fact, full body delicious: home-cooked kichari awakens cellular intelligence to the point you can almost hear your body hum. Mmmmm. Yummmm. Ommmm. Yeeeesssss.

Split Mung Beans are the primary ingredient in Kichari

Since I didn’t grow up eating Kichari, I am comfortable taking liberties. For the past five years, I have made Kichari once or twice a week, experimenting with every recipe I could find. I make it a point, too, to taste Kichari at Indian restaurants in every city I visit. If it is unique or especially good, I try to recreate it at home. I used to follow guidelines regarding measurements, spices, proportions. By now, though, I have made it so regularly and in so many different ways, it has become entirely intuitive, and completely personal.

Yesterday, wanting to make something extra warm and comforting on what was a foggy, cold December day, I pushed the limits on the spices ~ and may have accidentally made my very best Kichari yet!

Here is what I did:

Everyday Kichari

1/2 cup of split mung beans
1/2 cup of basmati rice
3 T Ghee, or Coconut Oil for Vegan
1/2 t Ginger powder
1/2 t Turmeric powder
1/2 t Garam Masala
1 t Clove powder
1 t Cinnamon powder
dash of Cayenne
dash of freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 t crushed Garlic
1/4 t Asafoetida (Hing)
Sea or Himalayan Salt to taste
5 cups water

Begin by rinsing the beans. Let them soak in cool water while you melt 1 teaspoon of ghee with the ghee/oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the ginger, turmeric, clove, garam masala, cinnamon, dash each of cayenne and fresh black pepper, and gently sauté for one minute. Add the garlic and stir well.

Drain the beans and mix them into the spiced oil. Rinse the rice and add to beans. Stir the rice and beans so they are thoroughly glazed. Turn heat to medium-high and add the water. Give it a good stir, bring it to a boil, lower the heat back to medium-low and cover.

Allow to cook for 45 minutes to an hour, checking to be sure the kichari is neither boiling too aggressively, nor drying too quickly. If you ever do need to add more water to the pot, bring it to a boil first in a separate pot and then quickly add to the Kichari. Technically, we should always maintain a consistent gentle boil when cooking beans.

In a separate small pan, melt the remaining ghee and add in the salt and asafoetida. When the kichari is fully cooked, spoon into bowls and pour this salty ghee over the top.

Yesterday, I sautéed fresh broccoli and chopped carrots with a bit of yellow onion and slivered almonds in the “salt and asafoetida ghee,” then served it over the Kichari to make an extra crunchy, flavorful bowl of steaming nourishment.

Truly, it feels to me, that if food is love, Kichari comes straight from the unconditional heart.

Kichari

For kichari, the mung beans must be split. I buy them by the pound in Little India. It is also recommended that the basmati be white, not brown, but in my liberty-taking way, I usually use brown. Read Michael Tierra’s article on Kichari to learn why. For more on the medicinal value of herbs and spices check out his website, Planet Herbs.

Namaste!