Nearly every culture has it’s own form of crepe, pancake or soft flat bread. The French version is world famous and for good reason. The Swedish have their thin pancakes, Russians make blinis, Norwegians have lefse and Ethiopians make a spongy bread called injera. In India, they make dosas. Which are not only awesome tasting; they are vegan, gluten free and full of protein. Whoa. How cool is that?
You’ll need to start making dosas, the day before you want to serve them. A pain? Maybe. But really worth the effort. A lot of this time is just soaking and fermenting. So the hands on work takes place mainly when you are making the crepes.
You’ll need some special ingredients for this. Keep reading. It’s also worth it. At your Indian market, pick up some urad dal also known as white split gram beans; fenugreek seeds and rice flour. First, you soak the urad dal and seeds for about 8 hours. If you start in the morning or afternoon, you can make the batter in the early or late evening. After soaking the beans, you blend in the rice flour and some water and let the mixture ferment overnight.
The mixture is like a paste and it smells a little weird. Stick with me. Remember, it’s worth it. At this point, you will probably need to add more water so the batter is pourable/spreadable. You are making crepes, not pancakes. I made the crepes individually, but you could probably make a few at a time on a large griddle. Pour some batter in your pan and spread the mixture with a small offset spatula if you have one.
Continue making dosas until all batter is gone. It makes a lot and they keep well in the refrigerator for a few days. Serve them with any filling you like. Potatoes with peas and spinach would be great. I stuffed mine with leftover cauliflower korma and avocado slices. My kids devoured them with vegan margarine and a little cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. Have fun with it.
Top with a cilantro or coconut chutney (I’m thinking, another post for those recipes). So much wonderful Indian food, so little time…
And let’s say you’re not that into making this. I get it. This is kind of a project. Go to Pondicheri in Houston (my inspiration for this recipe) or your favorite Indian restaurant and give them a try. Bet you’ll love it!
Adapted from Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking
1 cup white split gram beans (urad dal)
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 cups rice flour
3 cups hot water
2 tsp sea salt or to taste
1/8 tsp baking soda
Rinse beans thoroughly and pick clean. Put in a large bowl. Add the fenugreek seeds and enough water to cover by 1 inch. (The beans may soak up quite a bit of water and you may need to add more.) Cover with plastic wrap and let soak for 8 hours. Drain the beans, rinse and drain again.
Place soaked beans in blender or food processor and grind with 1 cup of hot water into a fairly smooth paste. This may take up to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in rice flour and remaining 2 cups hot water and beat mixture for 2 minutes using a sturdy whisk or wooden spoon, until well beaten.
Cover with a towel or cloth napkin and let the batter rest in a warm place (such as an unlit oven) for 8-12 hours. The batter will ferment and turn a little sour smelling. It will become light and foamy. It should be a pouring consistency, like cake batter; if not, add a little water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time to get a pourable consistency.
Just before cooking the crepes, stir in the salt and baking soda. (This is an important step!) Let the batter rest for 5 minutes.
Heat griddle or a large frying pan with a nonstick surface until very hot. Brush with coconut oil and wipe the surface. Try to avoid excess oil on the surface, or the dosa will be hard to spread. Pour about 1/3 cup batter in the center of the pan and quickly spread it into a flat crepe, using the back of a spoon or offset spatula in a spiral motion. Make the dosa as thin as possible, even if there are holes in the crepe.
When the crepe begins to set (about 2 minutes), pour 1-2 teaspoons oil around the edges of the crepe to loosen it from the pan. (This may or may not be necessary, depending on your pan.) When the bottom side is cooked and browned, turn and cook the other side for a few seconds. Transfer the dosa to a plate or baking sheet. You may keep them warm in a low oven while you make the remaining crepes.