Our version of America’s favorite fast food skips the bun in favor of a thick, hot dosa. The Dosa Dog is one of the most popular menu items at our food truck. Kids enjoy theirs with Cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese, the Vermont factory where we park our truck, and adults typically add mustard and Masala Sauerkraut. We always choose high-quality hot dogs—the farmers’ market or the meat aisle of a natural food store are good places to find a local brand.
Make the first dosa wrap according to the instructions for the Classic Dosa recipe below (it should be about the diameter of your hot dog or a little smaller if you want the tip to stick out). After you’ve flipped it and it’s just about done, sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese all over the top of the wrap and leave it for a few seconds to melt.
Transfer the dosa to a clean work surface. Place a hot dog on the side closest to you; spread some mustard over the hot dog, followed by some hot sauce, if you like. Pile on the sauerkraut.
Starting with the side closest to you, roll up the dosa; place it seam side down on a plate or into its recipient’s hands. Repeat to make a second dosa dog.
Makes 2 quarts
Dosa Kitchen by Nash Patel and Leda Scheintaub
Heat a small cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin, fennel, coriander, mustard, and fenugreek seeds and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until the seeds darken a shade or two, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
Put half of the cabbage, along with half of the salt, in a large, nonreactive bowl. Massage the salt into the cabbage very well to release water and start to create a salty brine. To speed things up, you can finish by pounding your cabbage with a wooden stomper or similar tool such as a meat pounder. Mix in half of the seed mixture and half of the turmeric. Pack the pounded cabbage into a 2-quart jar. Repeat with the remaining cabbage and salt in the same bowl and mix in the remaining spices. Pack the remaining cabbage into the jar, pounding down to release more water, until the brine covers the surface of the cabbage. Leave at least 1 inch of space at the top of the jar.
Set up a weight for the jar (such as a clean stone or a small mason jar filled with water) to keep the cabbage covered in brine. Place the jar on a rimmed plate to catch any potential overflow, cover with a clean dish towel to keep out insects, and set aside in a cool place away from sunlight to ferment.
Check every day to be sure the cabbage remains covered with brine, pressing down on it to create more brine if it isn’t. If any mold develops, remove it using a clean spoon, and don’t worry; you’ve created an anaerobic environment in which it is almost impossible for harmful bacteria to take root.
Your sauerkraut will be ready in 1 to 4 weeks, depending on the season and kitchen temperature and how tangy you like your kraut. Taste it along the way to check for doneness. Cover and place in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least a year.
Makes 1 1/2 to 2 quarts batter (8 to 10 crepe-style or pancake-style dosas, or 12 to 16 dosa wraps)
Through the many batches of batter we’ve soaked, ground, and fermented, we’ve come up with this reliable recipe. While it may seem complicated, don’t be intimidated by the details; they’re designed to answer all the questions we’ve been asked about dosa making over the years and to preempt common roadblocks to successful dosa making at home.
This recipe gives you an option for making large, thin, crepe-style dosas; smaller, thicker, pancake-style dosas (known as uttapams); or wraps. You might try starting with thicker pancakes and working your way thinner until you’re ready to try making crepes. But the sizes we call for are just guidelines; there’s no wrong size, shape, or thickness for a dosa. For example, you can make thin crepes on a small pan or multiple mini dosas. At our food truck, we make a family-style dosa that spans 32 inches and feeds four!
Dosa batter keeps for up to 1 month in the refrigerator, so you might consider doubling the recipe to have batter on hand for multiple meals, snacks, and dosa desserts. We recommend using filtered water for your dosa batter, as the chlorine found in most tap water may interfere with fermentation.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
Soaking time: 4 to 8 hours
Fermenting time: 8 to 12 hours
SOAK THE RICE AND DAL: Place the rice in a large bowl and rinse with two or three changes of water, until the water is just about clear. Cover with water by about 3 inches. Place the urad dal, chana dal, and fenugreek seeds in a medium bowl and rinse with two or three changes of water, until the water is just about clear. Cover with water by about 3 inches. Cover both bowls with dish towels or loose-fitting lids and set aside for 4 to 8 hours. Drain the rice, reserving the soaking water. Drain the dal and discard the soaking water.
MAKE THE BATTER: Transfer the rice to a blender and add 1/2 cup of the reserved rice soaking water. Start blending on low speed and slowly add another 1/2 cup water through the hole in the lid while increasing the speed of the blender to high. Blend until the rice mixture is mostly smooth but still a bit grainy (when you rub a bit of batter between two fingers, it should feel slightly gritty) and the consistency of thick pancake batter, 2 to 3 minutes total. Add more of the reserved rice soaking water, about 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed to keep the blender moving, keeping in mind that the less water you add, the thicker the batter will be and the better the batter will rise. Transfer the rice batter to a nonreactive bowl that holds at least 4 quarts.
Put the dal in the blender (no need to clean it first), add 1 cup of the reserved rice soaking water, and blend until completely smooth, starting on low speed and increasing the speed as the dal starts to break down, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add more reserved rice soaking water, about 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed. Add the dal to the blended rice and with clean hands, thoroughly combine the two mixtures into a batter.
NOTE: Mixing dosa batter with your hands is an old tradition that is said to jump-start fermentation; we don’t know the science behind it—perhaps it has something to do with the energy your hands convey or, more concretely, the aeration your fingers provide—but we find it to be true.
FERMENT THE BATTER: Cover the batter with a clean dish towel or loose-fitting lid, put it on a baking sheet (to catch potential bubbling over), and place it in a warm spot (90°F is optimal) for 8 to 12 hours, until the batter is thick and foamy, nearly doubled in volume, and smells slightly sour. If your batter looks like the aftereffects of a small volcanic eruption or a science experiment gone wild, congratulations—it is very nicely fermented.
In a liquid measuring cup, dissolve the salt into 1 cup water, then pour it over the batter and whisk it in, breaking up any hardened top layer that might have formed. Transfer to a large nonreactive container, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before making your dosas.
PREPARE TO MAKE YOUR DOSAS: Remove the dosa batter from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Whisk the batter until homogeneous. It should be the consistency of pancake batter; if it’s too thick, add water as needed.
Fill a small bowl with about 1/2 cup water and a separate small bowl with about ¼ cup oil. Take a triple layer of paper towels and fold them in half, then in half again. Alternatively, insert a fork into the root end of an onion half so the cut side is facing down. Fill a squeeze bottle with oil. (Note: The bowls of water and oil are for greasing the pan; the oil in the squeeze bottle is for drizzling over the dosas as they cook.)
TO MAKE 10-INCH DOSA PANCAKES (UTTAPAMS) OR WRAPS: Heat a 10 1/2-inch round griddle pan over medium-high heat. The pan is ready when a few drops of water flicked onto it sizzle. Grip the paper towels with tongs (or pick up the speared onion half), dip into the bowl of water and then lightly into the bowl of oil, and rub around the pan to grease it and to tame the heat.
Ladle the batter—about 3/4 cup for pancakes, 1/2 cup for wraps—onto the pan and quickly but methodically spread the batter with the bottom of the ladle in a circular motion from the center out to create a 10-inch round.
When small holes form on the surface of the dosa, squeeze a generous amount of oil from the squeeze bottle over the surface, getting it into the holes to crisp the dosa. When the bottom turns golden brown and the top is set, about 2 minutes, flip the dosa and cook on the other side for 2 to 3 minutes more, until lightly browned and cooked through. Repeat to make as many dosa pancakes or wraps as you like, adjusting the heat as needed to turn out dosas that are crisp but not overly browned and adding more water or oil to the bowls as needed. If your pan gets too hot, your dosas may stick or burn before cooking through. To check, splash a tiny bit of water into the pan; it should sizzle but not smoke. To regulate the heat, lower the heat a little, dip your paper towels (or onion half) in water, and then oil, and rub over the pan before making the next dosa.
TO MAKE 18-INCH CREPE-STYLE DOSAS: Preheat a large electric griddle to high.
The griddle is ready when a few drops of water flicked onto it sizzle. Grip the paper towels with tongs (or pick up the speared onion half), dip into the bowl of water and then lightly into the bowl of oil, and rub around the griddle to grease it and to tame the heat.
Ladle about 3/4 cup batter onto the griddle and quickly but methodically spread the batter in a circular motion from the center out to create an 18-inch thin, oval crepe.
When small holes form on the surface of the dosa, squeeze a generous amount of oil from the squeeze bottle over the surface, really getting it into those holes to crisp the dosa. When the bottom turns golden brown and the top is set, about 2 minutes, remove the dosa from the pan. Thin dosas usually need to cook on only one side, but if the top seems pale, you can flip the dosa and leave it to brown on the second side for a minute or so.
Repeat to make as many dosas as you like, adjusting the heat as needed to turn out dosas that are perfectly crisp but not overly browned.
CHEATER BATTER: Can’t commit to making dosa batter quite yet? You’re in luck! Many Indian grocers sell very good quality dosa batter in quart containers in the refrigerator section. But do pass on the dosa batter mix packets found on the shelf, as they lack vitality and flavor.
GOLDEN DOSA: For each quart of finished dosa batter, whisk 1 teaspoon ground turmeric into 1 tablespoon water to dissolve, then whisk it into the batter.
RED HOT CHILE DOSA: For each quart of finished dosa batter, whisk 1 tablespoon Kashmiri chile powder into 3 tablespoons water to dissolve, then whisk it into the batter.
GARLIC DOSA: For each quart of finished dosa batter, whisk in 4 to 6 pressed or grated garlic cloves.
HERB DOSA: Scatter whole cilantro, parsley, or mint leaves over the dosa immediately after pouring the batter onto the pan.
GHEE OR BUTTER (BENNE) DOSA: Slather a spoonful of ghee or butter over the finished dosa just as it comes off the pan.
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Reprinted from Dosa Kitchen. Copyright © 2018 by Nash Patel and Leda Scheintaub. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Kristen Teig. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.