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This gorgeous Indian dish, also known as Dosa, is a must try for vegetarians.
Wash the dal well. Drain. Add the fenugreek seeds and soak in 350ml (12fl oz) of water for six to eight hours, or overnight.
Wash the rice well. Drain. Soak it in 700ml (1 ¼ pints) of water for six to eight hours, or overnight. Drain the dal, but save the soaking water.
Put the dal in a powerful blender or food processor. Add 4 tablespoons of the soaking water and blend for about five minutes, being sure to push down any dal stuck on the sides and to push out any stuck to the bottom of the blender near the blades. Add another 3–4 tablespoons of water and process for another five minutes, or until you have a thick, light cake-like batter. It should be smooth between your fingers. Transfer to a large bowl.
Drain the rice, but save the soaking water. Put the rice in the same blender (you do not need to clean it). Add 240ml (8 ½ fl oz) of the saved water and blend for five minutes. Again, you will need to push the rice down from the sides and make sure that no rice has collected around the blades. Add another 50ml (2fl oz) of the saved water and blend for another five minutes. You will end up with a slightly thinner pancake-like batter.
The texture of the rice batter will not be as smooth as the dal batter, and it will feel ever so slightly grainy.
Pour the rice batter into the dal batter. Stir to mix. Leave the bowl, uncovered, in a warm place to ferment for 20–24 hours. Do not disturb it. (I leave mine inside my microwave oven.)
The next day you will see that the batter has risen and it will have bubbles in it. Add the salt and stir it in gently.
When you’re ready to cook, assemble a ladle (a flattish-bottomed ladle is best), a measuring cup, some oil, a teaspoon, a rubber spatula, a thin wooden spatula or fish slice and the batter.
Set a 25 centimetre (10 inch) non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. When it’s hot, rub the surface with a piece of kitchen paper soaked in oil. Using a measuring cup, pour 120ml (scant 4fl oz) of batter into the centre of the pan and, using the back of the ladle and a very light, hovering touch, push the top of the batter out in concentric circles until the pancake is as thin as possible and about 18 centimetres (7 inches) or a bit more in diameter. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon of oil on top of the dosa and another teaspoon around its outer edge. Spread out the oil and smooth the ridges on the dosa with the rubber spatula. Cook for two minutes, or until the dosa is golden-red on the underside. The outer edges will have loosened from the pan and turned up a bit. If not, loosen them with the thin wooden spatula or fish slice and flip the dosa over. Cook the second side for 50 seconds or so. The dosa is now ready to be served.
Make as many dosas as you like this way. If you wish to make masala dosas (see page 170 for the filling), put the filling along the centre of the dosa and roll it up.
Potato filling for masala dosa:
Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and peel them, then semi-crush them with a fork or potato masher.
Set a karhai, wok or pan, about 20 centimetres (8 inches) in diameter, over a medium heat. Pour in the oil and, when it’s hot, add the urad dal. Stir and fry for a few seconds until the grains turn a shade darker. Add the mustard seeds.
Allow them to pop, then drop in the curry leaves. Stir and fry for 30 seconds. Add the onion and stir and fry for about five minutes, until the pieces are translucent.
Now pour in 120ml (scant 4fl oz) of water. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until the onion softens completely. Add the salt, turmeric, chillies and ginger. Mix well for two minutes.
Make sure that all the liquid has evaporated, then add them potatoes. Fold them in, making sure they are completely incorporated with the spices.
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