Making dosas — those gloriously thin, pleasingly sour South Indian flatbreads — at home requires some advance planning. You may need to hunt down the ingredients (online or at an Indian market), and you’ll definitely have to soak the lentils and then let the batter ferment for at least 8 hours or overnight. But the crisp and flavorful crepes are well worth the effort. Note that the first dosas you fry might not turn out well — spreading the batter thin enough takes practice. This recipe, adapted from the chef Anita Jaisinghani of Pondicheri, calls for filtered water because fluoride can interfere with fermentation.
For the batter:
- 1cup white rice (long or short grain)
- ⅓cup white urad dal (see note)
- ¼teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- ⅓cup rice flour
- ⅓cup ragi flour or millet flour (see note)
- ½teaspoon sugar
- 1teaspoon fine sea salt
- Coconut oil, as needed for cooking
For the pumpkinseed chutney:
- 1cup raw pumpkinseeds (pepitas)
- ½cup coconut oil
- ¾teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 2 ½tablespoons fresh or frozen curry leaves, chopped
- 1cup finely chopped red onion
- ⅔cup coarsely grated fresh or frozen coconut
- 2tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- ⅛teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅓cup coconut water
- Pinch of fine sea salt
For the greens:
- ½tablespoon coconut oil
- ½teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- 1small bunch mustard greens, torn into bite-sized pieces (about 6 cups)
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- Make the batter: Rinse the rice and urad dal in cold water, then drain and transfer to a large bowl or container. Add fenugreek and cover with cold, filtered water by 2 inches. Let soak at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight.
- Drain the mixture, then transfer to a powerful blender, food processor or wet/dry grinder. Add 1 cup filtered water and blend until you get a smooth and runny batter. Depending on the power of your machine, this could take several minutes.
- Whisk in rice flour, ragi or millet flour, sugar and salt. The mixture should resemble thin pancake batter.
- Transfer batter to a large bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours to ferment — the colder the room is, the longer it will take to ferment. You’ll know it’s ready when the batter has puffed up and bubbles have formed all over the surface. If not using immediately, cover and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
- Meanwhile, make the chutney: In a blender or spice grinder, coarsely grind 2/3 cup of the pumpkinseeds and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the 1/2 cup coconut oil over medium heat. Stir in mustard seeds and curry leaves and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in onions and grated coconut and cook until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. If necessary, reduce heat to low to prevent browning. Stir in ginger and cayenne and cook another 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in coconut water, ground and whole pumpkinseeds, and salt to taste; scrape into a serving dish. (Chutney can be made up to 5 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.)
- When ready to make dosas, remove batter from fridge and let come to room temperature. (Do not try to make dosas from cold batter.)
- Meanwhile, cook the greens: In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat until almost smoking, then stir in coriander and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in greens and salt, and continue to cook until just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
- To make the dosas, heat a 10-inch or larger cast-iron or nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat (no higher) and brush very lightly with coconut oil. Don’t use too much oil or the dosas will move around, and will not cook properly. Using a 1/4 cup measure or ladle, pour batter in the middle of the griddle. Let it set for about 2 seconds, then quickly spread outward in a circular motion using the bottom of the ladle or measuring cup. You’re looking for a circle approximately 8 to 9 inches in diameter.
- Drizzle a little coconut oil on top of the dosa. Leave dosa batter to cook until browned on the bottom and dry at the edges and on top, about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to carefully loosen all sides of the dosa and transfer to a plate.
- Spread a layer of pumpkinseed chutney over the dosa then top with greens. Fold in half or gently roll up, and serve immediately. Repeat with more batter, chutney and greens.
- White urad dal (a type of black lentil that has been split and husked), ragi flour (malted finger millet flour), frozen shredded coconut and curry leaves are available in Indian markets.