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Loved the world over, these crispy crepes are a south Indian breakfast special. They get their unique taste from a fermented lentil and parboiled rice batter, which is then swirled on a lightly greased flat griddle into a thin web. I grew up on regular trips to south Indian restaurants where the star attraction would be a peek at the chefs in action through smudgy glass, a tradition that my children are happily keeping alive. Without a doubt, dosa-making runs through the veins of every south Indian cook.

The art of making dosa boils down to the texture of the batter and the heat of the pan. My version uses flattened rice, uncooked rice, a high-speed blender and a quick overnight ferment to give you an exotic healthy breakfast. Dosa batter will happily store in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge, so you can make it well in advance.

This recipe is taken from Masala: Indian Cooking for Modern Living (£26, Bloomsbury) by Mallika Basu.

First published in 2020
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Place the flattened rice in a sieve and wash under a cold tap. Leave to sit in the sieve for 2–3 minutes
Wash the uncooked rice thoroughly and put into a large ceramic, glass or stainless steel bowl. Add the flattened rice to the bowl, then rinse and add in both types of lentils. The job of the Bengal gram or split pigeon peas is to add a lovely golden colour to the dosa, but you can leave them out if you don’t have them. Add 750ml cold water and leave to soak for 3–4 hours
When the soaking time is up, drain the rice and lentils and then add to a blender with the fenugreek seeds, if using, and 375ml cold water. Blend into a thick, smooth batter – a high-speed blender or smoothie maker works best. Pour the batter back into the bowl
Pre-heat the oven to 120°C/gas mark ½, then switch the heat off but leave the light on to maintain a steady warmth. Loosely cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or muslin and leave in the oven overnight or for at least 10 hours. Traditionally, dosa is made after two days of fermenting, but that’s just a little bit too long to keep the oven occupied and with its light going!
When the time is up, you will have a frothy batter of pouring consistency. Stir the salt through. Place a non-stick flat griddle over a high heat and get a spatula and a soup ladle ready. Lightly grease the griddle and wipe off any excess oil with kitchen paper
When the griddle is hot, lower the heat to medium. You want it hot enough for the dosa to turn golden crisp, but cool enough to be able to swirl it without the batter turning lumpy. Drops of water should sizzle when they land on the griddle, but if it’s smoking it’s too hot
Pour a ladleful of the batter into the centre of the griddle and, using the base of the ladle, swirl it in a circular spiral motion to spread the batter into a circle about 15cm in diameter. Drizzle or brush the top of the dosa with a little oil or ghee and leave for 2 minutes to cook
To see if the dosa is done, you can prise one edge up to check for a caramel-coloured underside. If it’s pale, keep going. When you get a golden base, fold one edge over the rest of the dosa, lift out with the spatula and transfer to a plate
Continue until all the batter is used up. Usual pancake rules apply – the first one or two will be rubbish but you’ll be amazed at the ones that follow
First published in 2020

Mallika is an Indian food writer and the author of two cookbooks (Masala: Indian Cooking for Modern Living and Miss Masala: Real Indian Cooking for Busy Living).

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