These crispy fermented rice and lentil pancakes are more than just pancakes, they are one of India’s most celebrated national treasures. They’ve got a lot going for them: crunchy, nicely tangy, and very versatile. The only downside is that they take about 48 hours to prep properly. The best way I’ve found to do this so they’re ready for Sunday lunch is to soak them on a Friday night, churn on Saturday morning, leave to ferment until Sunday morning, and cook up at midday. Delicious with coconut chutney (see here) and coconut potatoes (here).
NOTE: You will need a blender for this recipe.
Makes 6 (enough for 4–6 people)
1¼ cups basmati rice
¼ cup split urad dal, or white lentils
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon salt
Wash the rice and dal together in a few changes of cold water until the water runs clear, then drain. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl and add the fenugreek seeds. Pour in the warm (body temperature) water and leave to soak overnight.
The next morning, or 12 hours later, drain the rice and dal and blend in two batches. Then cover with plastic wrap and place in a relatively cozy spot (I use the kitchen counter, or a bookshelf in my living room) for 24 hours. The next morning, whisk the batter and add the salt.
To make the dosas, put a large non-stick frying pan over low heat until hot. Prepare a plate for the dosas, a small pot of oil with a piece of paper towel, and a ladle. You can test the heat of the pan by flicking a little water onto it. If it fizzes and bubbles away, it’s ready.
Take the paper towel, dab it in the oil and wipe the surface of the pan, then pour in a sixth of the batter. Work quickly to spread the batter outward in concentric circles, using the back of the ladle, then turn the heat up to medium. Cook for 2 minutes, until the batter leaves the sides of the pan. Dizzle a little oil around the outside of the dosa to loosen it if need be, then flip it and cook for 1½ minutes on the other side. If the dosa is nice and crispy, shuffle it onto the plate.
Remove the pan from the heat for a minute, turn the heat down low, and repeat the same again. To keep the dosas warm, put them into a basket fashioned from foil, or just serve them as they come.