Dhaba Egg Dosai

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Dosai ( a lentil based crepe) is our family’s favorite breakfast. We sometime have this for dinner too. There is some prep time involved so not something you can whip up immediately. There are dosai Nazi’s out there that like their dosai a certain way….some like it crispy and brown, others soft and pliable. I prefer the former. I hate white colored dosai’s that are flimsy in structure. It turns out the best if made on a seasoned cast iron skillet. Non stick pans don’t produce the same amount of browning and crispiness that we like. The pan you make for dosai should not be used for anything else or else you will have it sticking to the pan.

Dosai is the base for many fillings. It can be eaten plain with chutney and sambar or filled with a myriad of stuffings. I have filled with chicken masala, beef masala, the traditional potato masala but the quickest ones are no filling of egg dosai.

Dhabas (or Thattukadas in Kerala) are street side vendors open only at night to make fast food for the truckers that travel at night. Sometimes they serve some of the best Indian food around. And Dosai is one of them.You can find a myriad of dosai varieties at some Indian restaurants that prepare more South Indian dishes. They can be almost 3 feet long if prepared on a restaurant griddle.

Here is the proportion of ingredients I have finally perfected after much trial and error  that gives me the crispy and brown color that I like.

Dhaba Egg Dosai

Ingredients:

2 cups  Basmati rice

3/4 cup urad dhal
1/4 cup toor dhal
1/4 cup chana dhal
1 tsp methi seeds
salt to taste
2 tsp sugar
Few eggs seasoned with salt and pepper
Ghee/oil
Method:
Step 1
Wash and rinse the rice well. Place in a bowl and cover with water…at least 2 inches above rice. Cover and set aside. Take all the dhals and rinse well, cover with water like the rice and set aside. Let sit for 3-4 hrs.
Step 2
Drain all the water from rice and dhals. Take the rice and add little lukewarm water in a blender and grind until smooth and pancake batter like consistency. Do not add too much water. Place into a large bowl. Now grind all the dhals the same way as the rice until a smooth batter forms.. Combine the rice batter and the dhal batter and whisk together until well incorporated. Cover and set aside on your counter or place in the oven. Let sit for at least 8 hrs for the batter to ferment.When ready the batter should be frothy and have small bubbles throughout mixture.
Step 3
Heat up your cast iron skillet on medium heat. Beat up the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Take some of the batter in a separate bowl and add the salt and sugar. Should just be mildly seasoned. Put a little of ghee or oil onto skillet to coat. Take a ladleful of the batter and spread out the batter starting at the center in concentric circles to get a thin crepe. Drizzles a  few drops of ghee or oil onto surface. Take your beaten eggs and pour a tablespoon or so to the top and spread around the dosai and let cook. Drizzle a little more ghee if needed to enhance crispiness.  It usually will cook without having to flip.
dhaba dosai
Roll up and it is ready to eat with sambar, chutney, or even chicken curry (my daughters favorite combo)
Here is a Video of me preparing this delicious dosai.

Avial, A Kerala Tradition

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The pookalam during Onam. Onam is the traditio...

The pookalam during Onam. Onam is the traditional festival of Kerala, India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HAPPY ONAM!

Onam is a festival celebrated in Kerala by people of all religions. This 10 day festival time commemorates the annual return of a much loved mythical King, Mahabali from the underworld. It is also a harvest festival.The season is marked by shopping for new Onakodi (traditional Kerala clothing made of fine cotton and gold zari borders), making a pookalam (a round motif placed on the floor made with flower petals), annual snake boat race or Vallamkali and the great Onam Sadya or feast.

This feast is served on a banana leaf with course after course of vegetarian dishes, and sweet payassums (dessert). There are at time almost 18 different dishes served for this feast.

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Avial ( pronounced avee-yil) is a very traditional Keralean dish and a must for the special days of Onam. This mixed vegetable dish has ground coconut (like most dishes from Kerala) and a little yogurt. In India there are more variety of veggies that are included in this dish but here in the US, options are more limited. we can’t get Chena, chembu etc so I use vegetables we get here like bell peppers, zucchini and squash. It is quick and easy to prepare.

This recipe was requested by my med school classmate, from Ooty, NG—-enjoy!

Avial

Ingredients:
1 red and 1 green bell pepper

Handful of green beans, trimmed
1 zucchini
1 squash
1 potatoe
2 carrot
1/2 onion, sliced

If available- 1/2 a green mango, 1/2 a green plantain

6-8 curry leaves

1/2 cup plain yogurt
Salt to taste
Coconut oil to drizzle

To grind:
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
2 green chilies
1/4 tsp turmeric

Method:

The key is to cut all the vegetables in the same size and thickness- generally in long sliced pieces.
Add all the veggies in a saucepan, with salt and curry leaves, add a little water. Cover and cook until soft.Can do this in the microwave as well.
In the meantime, take all the ingredients in the “To grind” list and grind to almost a semi-fine paste.

Add this to the cooked veggies and combine. Cook uncovered until most of the water has evaporated.Will be slightly mushy. Add more salt if needed. Remove from stove and add yogurt and drizzle a little coconut oil.

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Sambar- Spicy South Indian Lentils

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I make sambar at least once a week. It is a spicy, tangy lentil dish packed with protein and flavor. Usually an accompaniment with plain rice, idli, dosai or  vada. A true south Indian meal is rarely complete without it. It always tastes better the next day. I cook the dhal in my rice cooker– it has a soup setting so no fuss. But you can cook the dhal on the stove. This is a recipe for a weekday sambar, nothing fancy, easy to prepare.

Sambar

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 cup Toor dhal, rinsed

1 tsp turmeric

3-4  cups water

2 cups mixed chopped vegetables- Zucchini, carrots, potatoes, eggplant, beans, , etc (can also use froz vegetables)

1 cup frozen okra

1 cup chopped sliced cherry or grape tomatoes

2-3  tbs sambar masala (found at any Indian grocery store, I like Periyar or Eastern brand, you may add more or less according to how spicy you want it)

1-2  tbsp tamarind paste dissolved in a 1/4 cup water and strained

1 tsp asafetida (Hing or chayyam)

Salt to taste

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Seasoning: 1 tsp oil, 1/4 tsp mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (uluva), 2-3 red chilies, 1 small onion-sliced,

Method:

Wash the toor dhal well and place in a rice cooker with 3 cups water and 1 tsp turmeric and cook on medium heat until well cooked and dhal is falling apart. You can also use a pressure cooker as well for 3 whistles or use a pot on the stove. Mash up the cooked dhal– I usually use my immersion mixer and give it a few twirls to make it more smooth but some prefer to keep it a little chunky.

Place all the vegetables, except the okra and the tomatoes– in a microwave safe bowl. Add 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp salt and a pinch of turmeric. Microwave for 5-7 mts or until cooked. With a slotted spoon transfer the vegetables to the cooked dhal. (Reserve the water to use for thinning out the sambar if too thick.)

Add sambar powder and let boil for a few minutes. Turn down heat, add the asafetida and the tamarind paste water. Do not let boil after adding tamarind or it will become frothy.

If the sambar is too thick, add some of reserved water. Add salt to taste. It will thicken some as it cools. Add frozen okra, cover and remove from stove. The frozen okra will cook quickly and won’t get slimy this way.. If using fresh okra, add and let the sambar simmer for a few minutes before turning it off.

Season Heat oil in a small frying pan, add mustard seeds, allow to splutter. Add fenugreek seeds, red chilies and sliced onion and a pinch of salt. Allow to brown. Add the tomatoes and sauté for a few minutes. Add this seasoning to the sambar and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves

Sweet Coconut and Cranberry Boondi

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This sweet is one of my favorites. It is made with a batter of Besan or chick pea flour that is fried then soaked in a sugar syrup. The basic part is the boondi (fried round balls of the besan batter) which you can turn into another sweet, the ladoo. Plain boondi can also be added to yogurt as a Raita.

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Sweet Coconut and Cranberry Boondi

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 cup besan flour

1/2 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

saffron strands or few drops orange food color

1 tsp cardamom powder

1/2 cup sweet coconut flakes

2 tbs raw pistachio nuts, crushed finely

1/2 cup dried cranberries or Craisins

Ghee for frying

1 large slotted spoon or Boondi spoon

Method:

Sift the besan and add the water. Whisk well so there is no lumps. Make sure it is a easily pourable thin batter.

In a separate sauce pan add the sugar and 1/2 cup water and allow to boil. Turn off the heat when it reaches one string consistency. (See pic) Add a few drops of orange color or crush a few strands of saffron into syrup. Set aside.

Add ghee in a frying pan and put on medium heat. Hold the slotted spoon over the ghee and pour a ladle of the batter into the slotted spoon and allow it to flow through. Move spoon around gently. Do not move spoon around too fast or else we get long threads instead of round balls. This will take some practice. Allow to fry to a light yellow and with another slotted spoon scoop out boondi and drop into warm sugar syrup. Continue with rest of batter.

Mix the boondi in the syrup. It should absorb most of the syrup. Add cardamom powder.( At this stage if you pack them into tight golf ball sized balls it becomes ladoo.) Add the dried cranberry, pistachios and coconut. It’s done. As it stills it will become more dry and soak up all the syrup. Serve slightly warm.

Other variations- Instead of coconut and cranberries you can add raisins, chopped dates, almonds, cashews etc.

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