A classic Indian dish, dosas are thin, crisp crepes curled into a dome and typically filled with spiced potatoes. The batter is made by soaking raw rice and lentils before blending them into a paste and fermenting it. A filling of potatoes with turmeric and curry leaves then makes for the perfect contrast to the crepe-like dosa. It's pure comfort and great served with coconut chutney or sambar (a traditional stew of okra and tamarind).
While the batter is incredibly easy to whip up, the technique of making the dosa is admittedly pretty difficult. Using a thick cast-iron pan is key to maintaining a searing-hot surface to crisp up these crepes. Be sure to allow enough time to let the pan heat up, since cast iron heats more slowly than other pans. Then, barely grease the pan. You don't want the crepes to stick, but you also want the batter to spread easily across the pan. Plus, nobody wants a greasy dosa.
To learn more, read "TT Culinary Institute: Dosa."
Masala Dosas (Lentil Pancakes with Spiced Potatoes)
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 12 dosas
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus soaking time and overnight fermentation
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes, plus soaking time and overnight fermentation
For the Dosas:
2 cups short-grain rice
6 cups cold water, divided
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil, for greasing
For the Filling:
¼ cup ghee or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium yellow onion, diced
½ teaspoon turmeric
6 curry leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 green Thai chile, finely chopped
One 2-inch piece ginger, grated
1½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup water
½ cup roughly chopped cilantro
1. Make the dosas: In a medium bowl, add the rice and cover with 2 cups of cold water, or enough for there to be 1 inch of water above the rice. In another bowl, add the lentils, fenugreek seeds and 2 cups of cold water to cover. Let both soak for 6 hours, then strain. In a blender, combine the rice with 1 cup of cold water and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat the process with the lentils and 1 cup of water, and add to the bowl with the puréed rice. Stir until smooth and cover loosely with a kitchen towel. Let sit out for at least 12 hours, or up to 2 days, to ferment, then stir in the salt.
2. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large skillet, heat the ghee over medium heat. Toast the mustard and cumin seeds until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly golden, 9 minutes. Stir in the turmeric, curry leaves, garlic, Thai chile, ginger and asafoetida. Cook until fragrant and the leaves have wilted, 1 minute.
3. Add the potatoes and water. Cover with a lid and allow the potatoes to simmer over medium-low heat until the potatoes are fully cooked, 15 minutes. Once finished, stir to incorporate the potatoes further, lightly mashing as you stir. Stir in the cilantro and keep warm until ready to serve.
4. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Brush very lightly with vegetable oil. Ladle ½ cup of batter in the center of the pan. Using the bottom of the ladle, quickly spread the batter out to fill the diameter of the pan. Cook, without flipping until golden brown and the edges begin to curl, 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon ⅓ cup of the potato filling in a strip along the center of the dosa. Using a spatula, fold the sides of the dosa around the filling to make a cylindrical shape. Transfer to a plate. Continue this process, one dosa at a time, until 12 dosas are made. Serve immediately.