Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Recipe of the month: Methi Dosa

From where I come from, we have what we call a 'uppu-huli-khara' dosa which literally translates to salt-sour-spicy dosa that is a breakfast staple. It is made by grinding raw rice along with a range of spices, tamarind, jaggery and grated fresh coconut. It does not require any fermentation so it can be made at reasonably short notice. This ground mixture doubles as the paste used to make patrode (a dish from Mangalore-Udupi in which colocasia leaves smeared with this batter and then steamed or fried) and as the batter used to make a variety of dosas.

I make this dosa all the time because both me and my husband like it very much. What's more is that it doesn't require any side dish. Back home, for a basic uppu-huli-khara dosa, the accompaniments that are served alongside are honey, yoghurt and grated coconut with jaggery but in my household, we relish it just with a knob of butter. Another plus is you don't have to fret about perfecting the clockwise circular motions that are required for dosa-making. You can be as random and imperfect as you please!

Like I said, this is the same batter that I make when I'm preparing patrode. When I'm not going the patrode route, I make a few variations of this dosa. Sometimes I add in chopped fenugreek (methi) leaves, sometimes chopped colocasia (patra) leaves, other times I use thinly sliced roundels of eggplant, ridge gourd or bread fruit dipped in the batter and arranged on a tawa to form a dosa. Even shredded cabbage can be mixed into the batter and spread in the form of dosas but I am not too big on cabbage so I tiptoe around it. On certain occasions I've even used leftover batter to coat an assortment of vegetables like onion, capsicum, potatoes and baby corn to make deep-fried vegetable fritters. Whatever the variation, I can assure you that the outcome is finger-licking good  

When I first asked my mum the recipe for this batter about a decade ago, she said she just eyeballs all the ingredients so her way of explaining was telling me to add 'a little bit' of this and 'a little bit' of that. She also told me to keep in mind that the strength of the spices that I get in Singapore may not be comparable to the ones available in India. Of course that isn't much help to a novice cook so it took me a couple of not-so-successful attempts before I figured out the quantities of the ingredients that work best for me. After optimizing the recipe, I realized that even I tend to eyeball the ingredients so the last time I made this dosa, I carefully documented all the quantities and proportions that I used. Good thing I did that.....in the future, my daughters won't complain when they ask for the recipe and I don't give them exact measure of the ingredients! I'll probably just tell them to go  look at my blog (if it still exists then!).

Anyway, of all the possibilities with this dosa that I've discussed so far, my favourite by far is Methi Dosa that I prepare by adding chopped fresh methi leaves and chopped onions into the batter. Garlic is something I only started adding recently (I make sure the taste is subtle) and that is only in the case of methi and patra dosas. Adding garlic is optional though so if you don't want it then just skip it. My husband absolutely loves the taste and texture of chopped onions in these dosas so whenever I'm making them, he will be snooping around in the kitchen to check if I'm using enough onions to suit his liking! On the rare occasion that I end up with leftover methi dosa batter, the next day I get out my ebelskiver pan, grease the indentations with a little ghee, spoon dollops of batter into it and cook on both sides until it is cooked through. I had seen my MIL doing this so I've also started doing it. It makes for a different yet tasty variation.

If you master this batter, there are so many things you can do with it that you will be spoilt for choices. Just imagine, a huge batch of this batter and breakfast will be sorted for a few days!

Now that I'm done highlighting the versatility of this dosa, here is the recipe....

Methi Dosa

Preparation time + Cooking time: ~3 hours
Serves: 2-3
Recipe type: South Indian/Breakfast
Recipe level: Easy
Recipe Source: Amma and Myself  

1 cup raw rice (the regular sona masoori variety)
1/2 tsp methi/fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp urad dal/ split skinned black gram lentil
5-6 dry red chillies (I use byadgi chillies)
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp dhania/coriander seeds
1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
1/2 tsp thick tamarind paste or you could soak a gooseberry-sized tamarind in hot water for 10 min and extract the thick juice
2 tsp powdered or shredded jaggery
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp haldi/turmeric powder
1 large clove garlic, Optional
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut
1.5 cups pressed fresh methi/fenugreek leaves, washed and finely chopped
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1-1.5 cups water for grinding
Cooking oil, as required to fry the dosas


1. Soak raw rice along with fenugreek seeds for at least 1 hour. I usually soak for 2 to 3 hours.

2. Thoroughly wash and clean the methi leaves under running water. Discard the stems and finely chop the leaves. Also finely chop the onion and set aside.

3. Heat the coconut oil and fry the urad dal until it changes colour and turns golden brown. Add in the dry red chillies and fry for a few mins. Turn off the heat and set the mixture aside to cool.

4. In a blender, add the drained rice & fenugreek seeds, the urad dal & red chilli mixture, grated coconut, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, tamarind paste/juice, turmeric powder, garlic clove, jaggery and salt. Grind it finely and to a smooth paste by adding water as needed. I initially added 1 cup of water and added a little more later on to adjust the consistency. Keep in mind that the consistency of the batter should be just same as dosa batter (not too thick but not too runny either; of spreadable consistency.

5. Transfer the dosa batter to a wide bowl. Now mix in the finely chopped fenugreek leaves and chopped onions.

6. Heat a dosa griddle, smear half tea spoon of oil on to it. Spread a ladleful of dosa batter on the griddle and spread it around until it forms a circular shape. No need to do the typical clockwise circular motion that you do with regular dosas (unless you want to). Let it cook on low-medium heat with the lid covered till brown spots appear on the surface. Turn it over with a flat spatula and do the same on the other side.

7. You can serve the methi dosa with butter, yoghurt and pickle. I eat it along with plain unsalted butter. Even without any side dish, the dosa tastes great as all the spices are incorporated into the batter.

  • You can substitute methi leaves by any other greens of your choice like palak or colocasia leaves
  • Use good quality ingredients, stick on to the recommended quantity of ingredients and do not skip any of them unless specifically mentioned as optional
  • I am a bit careful while adding the red chillies to the blender. I don't add them all at once. I leave 1 or 2 out. After checking the taste of the ground batter, I add them in if required
  • The addition of grated fresh coconut to the batter makes the dosas soft


1 comment:

  1. Finger licking good, good way to describe the dosa :)

    btw any experience serving the dosa to any non-kannadiga's, if so what was their feedback? Me and Rosh always end up debating whether to make this when north indian or other guests come and end up not making it.


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