Food

How to make Dosas with Potato Masala

Joe Thottungal shares the recipe for one of his grandfather’s favourite foods, plus the chutneys to serve with it.

Joe Thottungal shares the recipe for one of his grandfather’s favourite foods, plus the chutneys to go with it

(Photography by Christian Lalonde)

This recipe from Joe Thottungal’s cookbook Coconut Lagoon doesn’t cut corners, so while it may seem extensive, it will be worth it to get the crispy, crepe-like shell, warm potato masala filling and fresh chutneys just right. In a pinch, serve with any chutney you love that’s already on hand, or one that can be purchased last-minute from a local restaurant or store. 

Dosas | ദോശ

By Joe Thottungal

The closest we have to a French crepe, the dosa is made of fermented rice and lentils and is typically served for breakfast or as an evening snack. I think of my grandfather whenever I make dosas — they were a favourite of his, and my mother would always have the batter ready for his arrival. They are typically stuffed with Potato Masala, and are delicious served with Coconut Chutney, Malabar Pepper Lamb, or Cook’s Curry.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup patna rice, washed
  • 1 cup ponni rice, washed
  • ½ cup split and hulled black gram (urad dal), rinsed
  • 2 tbsp chana dal or yellow split peas, rinsed
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ghee, for sprinkling
  • 1 ½ quantity Potato Masala (see recipe below)

Potato Masala:

  • 2 lbs yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Gold (about 6–8), peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 tsp salt, plus extra to taste (divided)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 ½ tsp split and hulled black gram (urad dal)
  • 2 dried red chiles, snapped in half
  • 15 curry leaves, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 Indian or Thai green chiles, halved lengthwise
  • ¼ cup finely sliced carrots
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp Ghee
  • Coarsely chopped cilantro, for garnish

To serve:

  • Coconut Chutney (see recipe below)
  • Tomato Chutney (see recipe below)
  • Sambar (optional)

Coconut Chutney:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
  • 1 (½-inch) piece ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 Indian or Thai green chiles
  • ¼ onion, coarsely chopped
  • 10 curry leaves (divided)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 dried red chiles, snapped in half
  • 1 tsp split and hulled black gram (urad dal)

Tomato Chutney:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 dried red chile, snapped in half
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • Pinch of salt, plus extra to taste
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • 1 cup (2 small) ripe tomatoes, puréed

Preparation

In a bowl, combine rices, black gram, chana dal, and fenugreek seeds. Cover with cold water and soak for 2-4 hours to soften. Drain, then put mixture into a food processor. Add salt and process to a coarse paste. Pour into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature to ferment overnight, or for at least 6 hours.

Heat a small nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Pour about ¼ cup batter into the pan. Using the back of a ladle, spread into a thin crepe. Cook for 1 minute, then sprinkle a few drops of ghee on top and flip. Cook for 1 more minute. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining batter.

Fill each dosa with ½ cup of potato masala and roll up. Serve immediately with chutneys and sambar (if using).

Potato Masala:

Put potatoes, turmeric, and 2 tsp salt in a large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes by an inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Drain, then mash. Set aside.

Have a splash guard and measured spices nearby. Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium high heat until nearly smoking. Immediately reduce heat to medium. (You can test the heat of the oil by dropping in a couple of seeds. The oil is at the correct temperature when the seeds crackle, but do not burn.) Add mustard seeds and temper for a few seconds, until they stop popping. (Cover with the splash guard, if needed.) Add black gram, red chiles, and curry leaves and cook for another few seconds until black gram begins to turn brown. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, until lightly brown and fragrant. Transfer to a large heavy-bottomed skillet.

Add onions, green chiles, and remaining 1 tsp salt and sauté over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until onions have softened. Add carrots and sauté for 1 minute. Add mashed potato and mix well. Pour in milk and add ghee, then adjust salt to taste.

Garnish with curry leaves and cilantro (if using).

Coconut Chutney:

In a bowl, combine coconut, ginger, green chiles, onion, 5 curry leaves, and salt. Transfer mixture to a food processor, add ½ cup warm water, and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl and set aside. 

Have a splash guard and measured spices nearby. Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Immediately reduce heat to medium. (You can test the heat of the oil by dropping in a couple of seeds. The oil is at the correct temperature when the seeds crackle, but do not burn.) Add mustard seeds and temper for a few seconds, until they stop popping. (Cover with the splash guard, if needed.) Add red chiles, black gram, and remaining 5 curry leaves and sauté for 20 seconds, until the black gram starts to brown.

Add spice mixture to the bowl and mix well. Store chutney in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Makes 1 ½ cups.

Tomato Chutney:

Have a splash guard and measured spices nearby. Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Immediately reduce heat to medium. (You can test the heat of the oil by dropping in a couple of seeds. The oil is at the correct temperature when the seeds crackle, but do not burn.) Add mustard seeds and temper for a few seconds, until they stop popping. (Cover with the splash guard, if needed.) Add chile pieces and curry leaves and cook for another 30 seconds until the leaves curl. Transfer the spices to a heavy-bottomed frying pan.

Working quickly, add onions and a pinch of salt and sauté for 30 seconds. Add chili powder and sauté for another 30 seconds. Stir in tomato purée and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

Makes about 4 servings.

Yield: Makes 10-12 Dosas


Excerpted from Coconut Lagoon (C) 2019 by Joe Thottungal. Photography (C) 2019 by Christian Lalonde. Reproduced by permission of Figure 1. All rights reserved.

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