Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dosai, following your own advice, and other imponderables...

Last Sunday dinner, I made dosai (singular: dosa), South Indian crêpes from a package. This isn't the first time I've tried to make them, but it is the first time I've resorted to a package. I bought it from my local Indian market.

Yes! Provo has grown up. After years of boasting two world-class Indian restaurants, Provo finally has an Indian store. No more driving to Salt Lake City. No more running out of spices.

Back to my dosai...

I learned a few things. The owner of the store told me to use a non-stick pan. In fact, this is an understatement: if you don't use a nearly pristine non-stick pan, you'll encounter a great deal of grief.

I have two omelette pans, one of which is brand new and the other still in somewhat good condition.

He also told me to spread a small amount of oil out in the pan using an onion cut in half. Worked for me.

From the package, I learned something even more important that totally explains why my dosai never worked in the couple of years I've attempted off and on to make them: start each crêpe out cold. If the pan is more than lukewarm, that is, so warm that it begins to cook the crêpe as soon as you pour the batter, then you will have a thoroughly miserable experience. The batter will stick, then pull away as you spread it and you'll be left with a mess.

Next, I used the bottom of a stainless steel measuring cup to spread about ¼ cup of batter poured in to the middle of the oiled pan around and around until I pushed it out evenly to cover nearly the entire, level surface. Only then turn on the gas; you can turn it up pretty hot.

Cook only one side until light brown and crisp.

The result? Not really handsome dosai, but very serviceable once I got the hang of it.

What was really yummy, however, was the amazing aloo paliya (or potato masala) I prepared to fill the crêpes with. And, I had bought some Knorr® tamarind sauce (not quite chutney thick) with which I garnished them.

Follow your own advice

When you give a piece of advice, it's well to follow it yourself. In my khurma recipe, I advise against adding any coriander, partly because there's already some in the garam masala. Sunday morning, I ground up a bunch of spices in anticipation of the afternoon culinary activities. With a couple of teaspoons of ground coriander left over, I tossed them into my khurma cringing a little. I didn't have to wait long: once on the table and then in my mouth I remembered why I hated my khurma for so many years. More than anything else I did or didn't do, it was putting coriander into this dish that made it inedible. I had this hard and fast list of "standard" spices I always used in this dish. In one case, I was wrong. I also don't use cardamom although I don't know that it's not good.

Aaargh! Don't do that! In the dizzying world of Indian spices it's easy to lose your head and throw the kitchen sink in. Less is often better.

Do, however, throw cilantro (coriander leaves) into the curry as a garnish just before serving. That is a good thing to do.

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