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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ragi Masala Dosa

Dosa is one of the most favourite breakfast (or anytime snack!) dish in the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.  The world famous Mysore Masala Dosa is what most of us Mysoreans grow up eating, but never tire of.  However, it is not easy to master the art of making a regular rice dosa.  It is primarily dependent on the variety of rice and proportions of parboiled rice, raw white rice and black gram daal or Urad Daal.  Besides, the white dosa has to ferment to perfection for superior output and all this is a bit complicated for people who have never tried it.

The Ragi* Dosa is simple to make, nutritious and always turns out perfectly well!
In my last post I promised to give the recipe for Ragi Dosa.  I know it may not be possible to get Ragi flour everywhere else in the world.  I encourage you to try this recipe with Buckwheat Flour or any other flour made from non-glutenous grains or cereals like buckwheat, quinoa and millet.  Here's the recipe and you may substitute the Ragi flour with the non-glutenous flour available to you.  My friend Mark Steinberg from New York did a fantastic experiment with buckwheat flour and I am proud to reproduce excerpts of his email communication to me along with his pictures of the process.  Also check out recipes for potato palya and chutney below!


RagiAfrican millet grown mainly in the southern states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.  It is the cheapest millet available in India.  People make ragi porridge or ragi balls with ragi.  Because ragi is inexpensive yet nutritious, ragi balls form the staple of most farmers’ and peasants’ diet in these states.

Ragi Flour (or any non glutenous flour such as buck wheat flour)              5 measures
Urad Daal (black gram daal)                                                                   1 measure
salt to taste
water as required

Wash and Soak the urad daal in plenty of water for about 2-3 hours.  Drain the water and blend the bloated soaked daal with fresh water and salt in a blender into a fine paste the consistency of pancake batter.  Blend the flour along with water into a paste of the same consistency and mix the two pastes well.  Let the batter stand for 6 hours (or more in cold climatic conditions) to ferment.  The batter should be fluffy when it is ready and sufficiently fermented.

Scoop up a little fermented batter and pour it on the center of a heated skillet or tava an spread the batter evenly using a flat bottomed steel cup or a deep ladle.  While spreading the batter, move your hand in a circular motion, spreading the batter wider on the pan with each round.  This takes a little practice.  Add a few drops of oil on the dosa and leave it on the pan until the edges begin to rise.  If the dosa is thick, flip it over to cook the other side. Put some potato palya in the center and fold the dosa into half.  Serve with coconut or peanut chutney. 

Now check out what Mark did in his kitchen with buckwheat instead of ragi!

Here's what he had to say - " I think what happened is that it took a very long time to ferment. I left the batter out for about 6 hours before I made the dosa, but little had changed. Also, maybe I didn't have the
pan hot enough. They came out more like a pancake than a dosa. So I left the batter out overnight and in the morning, no change. But by the late afternoon it was fluffy and bubbly! I'm guessing that's what is supposed to happen. "

The next afternoon ~ bubbly-frothy dosa batter.  Perfectly ready to pour out!

Potato Palya
Serves 4 to 6.
Potatoes, boiled and semi mashed
4 large
Cooking oil
4 Tbsp
Mustard seeds
½ tsp
Cumin seeds
½ tsp
Curry leaves
2 sprigs
Green chillies, slit in the middle
Chana daal
1 tsp
Onions, finely sliced
2 cups
Turmeric powder
¼ tsp
½ cup
Ginger, freshly grated
1 tsp
Coriander leaves, finely chopped
to taste

Heat oil in a hot pan.  Add the mustard seeds and heat until they pop or sputter.  Add cumin seeds, curry leaves,chana daal and chillies and fry until chillies are sautéed and the daal turns golden.  Add onions and fry for about 2 minutes.  Add turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds.  Add ½ cup of water and salt to the frying mixture and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add ginger and mashed potatoes and mix well.  Leave on the stove for a couple of minutes.  Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and serve with dosas, chapattis, and poories.  You may even use the potato palya to make excellent grilled sandwiches.

Peanut Chutney
Makes approximately 4 to 6 servings.
Roasted peanuts
2 cups
Fresh grated coconut (optional)
½ cup
Green chilli or dried red chilli
2 or per taste
Mint leaves
1 cup (loosely)
Tamarind paste
1½ Tbsp
Onion, chopped (optional)
1 small
Garlic (optional)
2 cloves
Coriander leaves
1 small bunch
to taste
Water for grinding

Sauté mint leaves and chillies for a couple of minutes with two to three drops of oil.  You can also skip sautéing the mint and chilies, and instead add raw mint and chillies to the mixture.  Blend this with peanuts, coconut, tamarind, and salt, with enough water to make a rough paste.  Add garlic, onion, and coriander leaves and grind for five more seconds.  Serve with items such as idli, dosa, chapattis, upma.

Serve Ragi Masala Dosa hot for breakfast or an anytime healthy snack!

All pictures (except one - the dosa on the pan) in this blog are taken by Mark Steinberg in his New York apartment kitchen!

Enjoy making dosas and remember the golden rule of all times applicable to everything in life - practice makes perfect!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dedication to Mark Steinberg

A couple of years ago, a guy named Mark Steinberg came to Mysore on a short visit and happened to attend one of my cooking classes.
Mark Steinberg in his NY apartment kitchen

As usual, after the class, I tell the people who attended, that it would make me very happy if they shared their experiences with me after they tried out my recipes at home.  Some assure me they would and they do!  Mark Steinberg too did that.  He not only wrote back to me saying he tried out my recipes and that the food had turned out real good, but also sent me pictures of the food he had cooked and his guests raising a toast to me!
Mark's friend Chris (extreme right) with his guests Henk (center) and Carolein from Holland

Mark's string quartet colleagues enjoying his Indian cooking!

I loved his enthusiasm and sent to him a few more recipes.  I received more pictures and sent him more recipes and received more pictures...

Here's a picture of the dishes he cooked on 5th Jan 2010, all arranged in a thali!
As you can see, there is Lemon Rice, Chana Masala, Daal, Baingan Bharta, Bhindi Masala, Aloo Gobi, Pachadi and Chapati! Phew! And it all looks simply awesome!  I bet it tasted divine!

And guess what he served his guests for dessert... Kheer!
What better returns would a teacher expect from his/her student!  Mark has tried many more of my recipes and most diligently sent me pictures with encouraging feedback.  He motivated me to go on teaching...

Sometime back I asked Mark if he would do me a favour and make Buck Wheat Dosas and let me know how they turned out.  I make and teach Ragi Dosas and always had a feeling that Buck Wheat Dosas may turn out just the same as Ragi.  Now Mark lives in New York and this time of the year is brrrrrrrr..... freezing! But he made them Buck Wheat Dosas and sent me his notes too, with 17 pictures of the entire process and he had never ever made any kind of dosas before!  And yes, he made the potato palya (stuffing) and the peanut chutney too! and additionally made Baingan Delight! How delightful can this be!!!

I would like to dedicate this blog to my very dear dear friend Mark Steinberg, who has made me very proud and has provided super encouragement to me, to go on with teaching cooking.  Thank you Mark!  And much love to you!

Watch out for my next post.  I will give out recipes for Ragi (or Buck Wheat) Dosa, courtesy Mark Steinberg!

Wishing all readers Merry Christmas and a Very Very Peaceful New Year!