Sunday, December 21, 2014

Double baked, pesto coated potatoes - note I don't have a proper name for this dish :-)

In all my life so far, I haven't come across a single person that says he/she didn't like potatoes. I for sure is not one of them. I am actually sad that these delicious roots get a bad rap all the time from health experts. When eaten the right way, these not only taste out of the world but also provide a multitude of nutrients. Just don't consume them as fries all the time :-)

These spuds didn't make a frequent occurrence in nammamma's kitchen, not sure why though. It was the occasional alugedde-eerulli huli (sambar made with potatoes & onions) that I craved for or the masala palya for dose. Do you ask what is so special about a sambar with potatoes & onions? My answer would be 'try it, atleast once in your life", this is a special, very special combination and the gravy just comes alive with the 'made in heaven' match of the two roots.
I am not talking about the huli today, nope but all this talk about potato-onion huli reminds me that I haven't made it in a while, should put it on the 'to-make' list. What I have today is an equally delicious and comforting dish made with potatoes. It meshes the freshness of mint with the bland potatoes and baking it until soft yet crispy with melted cheese on top.. I will stop describing it and give you the recipe so you can make it and enjoy too :-)

I have a MSN food app on my laptop which I visit sometimes when the picture catches my attention. A few weeks back (before Thanksgiving I think), they had many recipes apt for the season, there were a number of Turkey dishes, sweet potatoes served in many creative ways and then there was a double baked potato stuffed with more potatoes and topped with cheese :-). I loved the look of it and wanted to try it.
For the last few days, I have been busy and my usually full refrigerator & kitchen have a deserted look. With a teenager at home that feels hungry all of a sudden it has not been easy and as she was working on her never ending homework one of the weekends, she whined that there was nothing interesting to eat at home :-(. That whine sounds very familiar, if I remember right, that is the age at which nammamma gave me an ultimatum and said instead refusing to eat everything that was offered/available, I should start making what I wanted and thus happened my serious entry into the world of cooking. The conversations used to be somewhat on these lines, I would say that was hungry, amma would offer 1,2,3.. choices and I would keep saying I didn't like it or didn't feel like eating it. Amma would exasperatedly ask what I wanted to eat but I never had an answer since I didn't know it myself :-). Things always have a way of coming back.

Now though a fair complaint that is a substantially big insult to someone who calls herself a passionate cook and a blogger. So, I went into the kitchen and looked around to create something delicious and win DD back. With the image of the baked potatoes in my head, I used pesto I had made for pasta couple days back instead of following the original recipe to T. I not only coated the potatoes with the pesto but also gave some kick to the stuffing with crunchy onions and mixing some pesto into it. And viola, DD was all smiles after gorging down a plate of those baked beauties, mission accomplished :-). She is not interested in stepping into the kitchen though to make something on her own.

You can replace pesto with other chutney or sauces of choice but the nutty, minty pesto just took this a step ahead of other combinations. Give it a try and then experiment. The original recipe called for initially baking the potatoes (see the 'double baked' in the name, that is where it came from) for about 40 mins but since I didn't have the time, I opted to steam it in my rice cooker/steamer which took just 10 minutes to be done. I think baking it the first time slightly dries out the potatoes, hence the need for all the butter the original recipe called for. Steaming kept them moist and soft and I didn't use any fat other than the scant 1 Tsp oil to prepare the stuffing.
What do you need to make baked pesto potatoes? 
6-8 small (not baby) potatoes
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp grated cheese (I used mozzarella)
1/2 Tsp cumin seeds
1 Tsp oil
1/2 Tsp lime/lemon juice
for Pesto: 
2 Tbsp almonds
2 Tbsp walnuts
1 Tsp pine nuts
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2-3 green chilies
1 tsp salt

How do you make baked pesto potatoes? 
  • Scrub the potatoes well to rid of any dirt. 
  • Cut each potato in half with the skin on. 
  • Steam or boil them in hot water until just tender. 
  • Let cool and with a sharp knife/spoon, scoop out the center of the potatoes leaving a thin layer to hold the skin. Reserve the scooped out insides. 
  • Take all ingredients listed under Pesto into a blender and using as little water as necessary, grind it into a fine paste. 
  • Add lemon/lime juice and give it a mix. 
  • Taste test and adjust salt or green chilies. 
  • Heat oil in a pan, crush cumin in palms, add it to the oil, let it sizzle. 
  • Add chopped onion and let it sweat for a minute or two. 
  • Mash all the scooped potatoes into a smooth dough, add it to the onion and mix well. 
  • Add couple of tbsp of pesto into this mixture and taste test it. 
  • Let it cook for just a min before switching off. 
  • Preheat the oven to 400F, prepare a cookie sheet with a baking spray. 
  • Take one of the potato halves, coat the insides with pesto, add a generous scoop of mashed potato mixture into the groove and stuff it in. 
  • Top it with grated cheese. 
  • Repeat for all potato halves. 
  • Arrange them in the cookie sheet and bake for about 30 mins. 
  • Take it out and serve warm as an appetizer or a snack. 
  • I use small size red potatoes for this recipe, the skin is very thin. Golden russets work well too. 
  • Bring the nuts to room temperature if you freeze them like me before making pesto. 
  • Feel free to play around with nuts of choice in the pesto. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pineapple pudding pops (Pineapple sajjige) - Old wine presented in a new bottle :-)

When I say Pineapple sajjige or pineapple kesari bhaath, I know many of you will nod your head to indicate you understood exactly what I was talking about. Which is indicative of the fact that, you all have either an Indian root or a frequent foot in an Indian kitchen. What if I had to introduce a dish to a group of friends that may not know what sajjige or kesari bhaath is, how do I explain it to a first timer trying this decadent, delicious dessert? I just packaged my old wine (aka, pineapple kesari bhaath) in a new bottle (measuring spoons) for presentation and global acceptance :-). My tiny effort at bringing this fast shrinking world together.
Here is the story from the very beginning(I know you are all eager to hear it), with holidays fast approaching, we have an annual holiday party at work to celebrate, share and enjoy good food and company. Infact we had it last week and as part of the celebrations, there was a dessert contest. I being the enthusiastic foodie (and the blogger), wanted to take a dish but ruled out all the typical holiday cakes, cookies etc since there are other very talented cooks on the floor. Thought I would introduce an Indian sweet to this very diverse and open group of people I work with and the first one that met the criteria (not on the blog already :-), easy and quick to make on a weekday night and stays fresh the next day) was the pineapple kesari bhaath. Since the name was a mouthful, I put my entry in as pineapple pudding pops (no idea where the 'pops' popped from) but then had to keep true to the name and so ended up presenting them as small blobs shaped by measuring spoons :-). Surprise, surprise, here is how the contest ended :-)
When I sent the above picture to DD & BH, their first chorus reactions was, "What? you got a prize for the kesari bhaath? and they called it a creative entry?", There is nothing wrong in that reaction since sajjige of the banana kind or the pineapple kind has been our regular Saturday morning dessert (all in the name of offering to the God) for many years now and DD is a die hard fan of this soft, decadent, fruity dessert. I stick to it because of its simplicity and ease of making the dish. So, they were both non believers when I said my humble kesari bhaath/sajjige won a prize in a dessert competition. When I came home, DD was like, "mom, if anyone should be given a most creative dessert for this dish, they should go and find a grandma atleast 4 generations back, she is right, I didn't invent it :-).
On the other hand, it is perfectly normal that it was named the most creative dish in a sea of entries made of the regular chocolate cookies, red velvet cakes and other such seasonal desserts. What can I say? the judges were blown away by this delicious dessert and I am just glad I got recognized :-)
This is not a common dish from nammamma's kitchen like most of my traditional dishes are. Instead, I learnt it from a cousin sister in law who had made this when we stopped over at their place in Chikmagalur many years back. Not only did she feed us until we were ready to fall over, she also packed a big, steel box full of ghee oozing, saffron flavored, pineapple kesari bhaath when we headed out on our way to Sringeri. I remember we had enjoyed the delicious kesari bhaath for over two days (it keeps well even outside refrigerator if the weather is mildly cold). This is many moons ago, I was in college and it was a very rare trip we had taken up as family and my father had taken us kids to our native village (I carry the initials as part of my name but never had visited the place until then). All great experiences and memories. It is a trip I will never forget for many reasons and the kesari bhaath made the memories all the more sweet.
We are not a family of sweet people :-), ok, what I actually meant is this - we are not a family of people that LOVE sweets. There are only so many sweets that actually entice us and this simple, homely yet deliciously fruity dessert is very close to our hearts and we invariably go back to it all the time. Hope you like it as much as I do. 
What do you need to make pineapple kesari bhaath? 
1 cup upma rava/sooji
1.5 cups water
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar (adjust based on the sweetness of pineapple)
1+1/4 cup chopped pineapple
7-8 strands of saffron
4 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 Tbsp cashew nuts
1 Tbsp raisins

How do you make pineapple kesari bhaath? 

  • Clean pineapple of any thorns and chop into small bits. I like making this with fresh pineapple. 
  • Bring 1/2 cup water to a gentle boil with sugar and when the bubbles start to form, add the chopped pineapple along with any juice. 
  • Cook for 2 minutes, switch off, cover and keep aside until ready to use.
  • Soak the saffron strands in a Tbsp of warm milk and keep it aside to infuse flavors.
  • In a deep pan, add 1/2 Tbsp ghee and heat it. 
  • Add cashews and raisins and roast them until raisins plump up and cashews turn golden brown. 
  • Take them aside into a plate. 
  • In the same pan, add another 1/2 Tbsp ghee, add the rava/sooji and start to roast it on medium heat, continuously stirring for uniform heat distribution. 
  • Add another Tbsp of ghee after 3-4 minutes and continue to roast. 
  • The roasting will take about 7-8 minutes depending on the amount of heat, it is good to do it on low/medium heat and not burn the sooji. 
  • As it roasts, the sooji turns lighter (you will feel it when you turn it over with the spoon) and starts to give out a nice roasted aroma. 
  • When the sooji turns light golden and loses the raw smell, turn the heat all the way to low, add the pineapple & sugar syrup. 
  • Keep stirring the mixture continuously not to form lumps and immediately add the remaining water and milk and mix it well. 
  • Add the saffron along with the milk it is soaked in. 
  • Add the remaining ghee on top, turn the heat up just a little, cover and let cook undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  • When you open the cover, the entire mixture should be a fluffy, soft mass and smell delicious. 
  • Switch off, garnish with the roasted cashews and raisins, mix and serve warm or cool. 
  • You can use canned pineapple if you prefer but make sure, you wash it a couple of times in running water to rid of the juice and preservatives. 
  • You can add pineapple & sugar directly into the roasted sooji but this sometimes leaves a very faint bitter taste as pineapple doesn't cook completely. 
  • You can add a pinch of powdered cardamom towards the end for flavor, I like to keep saffron & cardamom separate in my desserts and give them their own individual space. 
  • I always add milk to my kesari bhaath to make it rich and tastier, if you prefer, just use water. 
  • We like soft kesari bhaath and the 1:2.5 ratio of rava:liquid works fine. 
  • Use upma rava (coarser variety) for the kesari bhaath, the finer varieties make it pasty. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

(Akki) Rave rotti - deliciousness is just a few ingredients away

The humble Akki rotti from Karnataka, called Thalipeeth in Maharashtra has gained popularity due to its deliciousness and versatility. Some like it thin and crunchy while others prefer it thick and crispy. You can make akki rotti with different vegetables (grated carrots, radish, chopped dill, cooked avarekalu), go fancy with it or make a bare bones, no frills but extremely delicious akki rotti like my parents make. Ask any kannadiga for their favorite comfort food, I can bet akki rotti would top the list.
Yesterday, we were at a dinner party hosted by a friend and DD decided to make a dessert herself and take it, it was a sweet potato & marshmallow bake and the kids loved it. So a friend asked me if I was training her, to which I said 'No'. The more I think of it, nammamma never 'trained' me either but there was so much cooking and eating in her kitchen, I kind of naturally grew interested in it. I see the daughter doesn't have the same enthusiasm as me when it comes to cooking but some of her experiments are an indication that she can cook to get her out of starvation if a situation arises anytime. And given her impeccable taste to differentiate good food from the bad, I am sure she will cook something good :-). I think that is more than good enough for a starter.

When we were kids, kitchen was mostly nammamma's kingdom. Though we all rushed in and out at various times, gobbling food of all sorts, amma would be the one mostly toiling in there ensuring the never ending supply of food. My father was a foodie (Hmm, apples don't fall too far from the tree :-)), he enjoyed good food and was a good cook himself. But anna's cooking was limited to those rare occasions when amma was out or sick and he had to feed us, the hungry kids. We as kids (atleast I am sure I did) waited for those nights when anna would be in the kitchen instead of amma because he wouldn't make the regular fare of rice, saaru/huli etc instead it would be a treat to have his thick, crispy and light as feather akki rottis. Anna also made a majjige huli to die for, the not too thick, not too thin, creamy consistency of the majjige huli in sour yogurt made us feel at home in an 'amma-missing' kitchen.
But what I loved most and I know all my siblings will nod their heads in unison was his akki rotti. He would mix the dough enough for just 2 (huge) rottis instead of making multiple smaller ones and waste the time in the kitchen. The dough would be mixed with just rice flour, cumin, salt, chopped green chilies and lotsa of grated fresh coconut (Yep, though neither of them owned a coconut grove, my parents used coconuts as if it grew in the backyard :-)). No onion, no other fancy stuff. He would mix the dough, divide into 2 big balls, use the huge aeroplane pan(called thus because it is made from a metal used to make aircraft bodies and distributes heat evenly), pat the ball gently into a thick circle and cook it with lot of patience and love, turning the bandle (deeper & circular compared to a flat griddle) all around so the rotti would come out crisp with a golden color all over, it would be cooked just on one side, no flipping it over and when it came out it resembled a deep dish with golden spots all over the bottom surface.

Once both were done, he would divide them with mathematical precision into pieces and give it to all of us, I can't put into words how much I miss those days and the rotti. We called them biscuit (more like 'bisket' or 'biskattu' in Kannada) rotti. There is a biscuit roti popular in South Karnataka that has no relation to this, I will talk about it another day. Being an ardent fan of akki rottis, I have tried to recreate the magic in my kitchen ever since I started one but it somehow doesn't taste the same as the ones we ate as kids. BH, though never had akki rotti before marriage is a convert and loves to eat his with a cup of home made yogurt. DD loves some avakkayi mixed with yogurt to go with her akki rotti :-)
One of the things I find different with my ingredients is that Nammamma got her rice flour made to order :-), she would take the rice to the flour mill and get it ground into a powder of the right coarseness and I don't have that luxury with my store bought powders. She always says the rice flour for the rotti needs to be very slightly coarse and not a fine powder to give that crisp texture to it. So when I came home with a packet of finer than usual rice rava (it was MTR brand if you are interested), I decided to give it a try. The rice rava doesn't hold together if you mixed it with water directly as there is no gluten in it, so I ended up pre cooking it just a bit. This also makes the rotti turn out lighter. The recipe has no bearing to how anna made the rottis but just the texture of it reminded me of those days. It is an improvisation from what he made, to make up for the absence of coconut, I added a seasoning in the beginning. Also, since a deep dish skillet doesn't work on my electric coil stove, I use a flat cast iron griddle. Made small palm sized rottis just to relive a memory :-). These are very easy and quick to make, taste delicious on their own or with a spicy dip on the side. You can make this rave at home, how to is part of this post.

What do you need to make Akki Rave rotti? 
1 cup rice rava (Idli rava)
1+1/4 cup water
1/2 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 green chilies
1/2 Tsp mustard
1/2 Tsp cumin
1/8 Tsp asafoetida
4-6 finely chopped curry leaves
2 Tbsp oil - divided use

How do you make Akki Rave rotti? 
  • Heat a sauce pan on medium heat along with 1 Tbsp of oil.
  • Add mustard, cumin and let them pop.
  • Add finely chopped green chilies, curry leaves and fry for about 30 seconds. 
  • Add asafoetida, salt and water. 
  • Cover and let the water come to a gentle boil. 
  • Reduce heat to low, and in a steady stream add the rice rava into the boiling water while stirring with a spatula to avoid lumps. 
  • Cover and let cook on low heat for 2 minutes. Switch off and let stand for 2-3 minutes until cool enough to handle. 
  • Take a plastic sheet or aluminium foil, sprinkle a few drops of water and spread it evenly on the surface. 
  • Take an apple sized dough on to the sheet, dip your palms in cold water and knead it into a smooth dough (about 30 secs)
  • Keep your griddle to heat on medium heat. 
  • Pinch off balls of the desired size from the kneaded dough and pat them into a flat disc of about 1/2mm thick. 
  • Transfer one or more of these flattened discs onto the hot griddle leaving an inch or so of space in between to easily flip them over. 
  • Add drops of oil on the surface and cook them for a minute and half or until the bottom layer turns light brown. 
  • Flip over and cook until both surfaces get the desired color and crispness. 
  • Serve it with a dab of ghee (clarified butter)
  • Fresh rava made at home tastes best (then, you knew I say that everytime :-)), if not realistic, use the idli rava from the store. 
  • You can add chopped cilantro instead of curry leaves. 
  • I would keep this recipe saatvik with no onions because it reminds me of my anna's biskattu rotti. 
  • Keep the dough covered to prevent it from drying as you are working in batches. 
  • Some varieties of rice rava may need little lesser or more water, when you are done cooking, you should have a moist dough that comes together. Adjust with a few sprinkles of water or a spoon of rava as needed. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Masala Dose (Dosa) - a food coma inducing vegetarian thanksgiving brunch

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
Thornton Wilder

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers celebrating the day!

Long ago when the immigrants declared peace with the natives and broke bread together, started this celebration of oneness, giving thanks and saying grace together. The holiday itself has morphed into a cacophony of retail business with stores opening at the wee hours of dawn on Friday luring customers with promises of never before 'low prices'. This year, it is getting pushed to Thursday evenings, I personally think that is a shame! After all this research shows, these black Friday (now Thursday) sales do not really lift the profit margins that much anyways. All I would say is 'consumerism ' is good for the economy but take some time to be together with family, friends and live in the joy of the moment before you rush towards the malls :-)

Like always, the month of November brings in not only a nip into the air but also the festive jingles. Twinkling lights, bouquets of cheerful Poinsettia make their way into the living rooms. I like to slow down a little bit and count my blessings, they are many and I am extremely grateful for the life that I have. 
Many years ago, we landed here as the proverbial 'new immigrants' leaving behind the known and the familiar trying to make a life with the unknown and unfamiliar, hoping every step of the way the decisions made would stand us strong for years to come with dreams in our young eyes. Every day was a new experience, a learning as we got immersed in the new culture, people, practices. Now after all these years, it is a second home. While my home far away comes in dreams every night and I yearn for the family back home, I also love waking up every morning and take in what my second home has to offer. Things could have gone differently but for the grace of the power I believe in and for that I am thankful. I am grateful for all the rich experiences I have had in these many years of being alive, I am grateful for the love I have received from people near & far away. Thanksgiving is a special time for me to slip slightly into the years gone by as I count the happy moments and look forward to continued joy going forward. 

Being a vegetarian in a very 'meat' friendly environment is not an easy task. While vegetarianism and veganism have become mainstream now, 15 or so years back, it was unheard of and I would have spent many a get together dinners munching on just the leafy greens and filling my stomach (and waistline and then some..) with the desserts as I feared touching any of the main courses doused in non-plant based fats and showcasing different varieties of meat. I am not intolerant to non vegetarian, I have many good friends that love only non vegetarian meals, BH enjoys his share of non vegetarian too. I just have not felt a need to try or taste the stuff. 
We attended a Thanksgiving dinner once back in Michigan as part of a spiritual group and I was taken in with the ingenuity of the hostess who served major concepts of Thanksgiving in a completely vegetarian way. DD loved it too and that is how our Thanksgiving brunches have been now for many year. Did I say brunch? yep since we skip breakfast, the little girl declared holiday which means she gets up when she feels like and we go directly to our meals which is somewhere in between BF & lunch. Our main course is always potato stuffed dosas, sided with different combinations of chutneys and dips, some form of sweet potatoes (baked, roasted etc). I didn't make the corn bread this time. This meal is a great alternative if you are a vegetarian. I have had some of my friends make stuffed paranthas as another variation. 

We had this masala dosa, chutney & sambar and feeling as stuffed as a turkey (err,, tofurky may be) and as I type this away, I hear the gentle snore from a fully satiated and overstuffed BH who declared that a siesta was the best thing that could happen immediately after eating such delicious dosas and true to his words, went to lie down right afterwards :-). This is a carb heavy meal and oh I am thankful for the starches and carbohydrates in my life, they make me happieee. 
Masala dose (as we call it in Kannada) does not need any introductions to most people. They have been popularized world over by the numerous Udipi cafes, Saravanabhava restuarants and other South Indian joints. Masala dosas are so versatile that people have gotten creative and stuffed them with stuff such as broccoli, cauliflower, paneer etc :-) which goes to show that it is nothing but a concept that you can tailor to suit your taste. I come from the small town of Mysore which valiantly tries to hold on to the traditional roots (sometimes good and sometimes not so good) and you normally don't see stuffings other than the "forever in demand" potato masala in my kitchen. 

If you were to see any restaurant menu card worth its salt dosa, it will have a plain masala dosa and a Mysore masala dosa. What is unique about the Mysore masala dosa is the fiery red chutney spread liberally on the inside of the dosa before placing the potato masala. A bite of that is a step closer to heaven for spice lovers like me. Oh, btw, I have seen many masala dosa posts in the blogs which call out for a crispy thin layer of dosa. For us from Mysore, masala dose is always thick, pulpy while being crispy as it is doused with oil/ghee. 
This post is already growing long in length and I will reserve all my chatter about dosas for another post and another day but in parting, I will say this - it is very hard to get the even, golden brown color on the dosas at home. If you are trying to mimic the restaurant served dosa at home, be prepared to use inordinate (and unhealthy) amounts of oil. Another reason for that golden hue is the controlled and uniformly distributed heat in a big kitchen. However you can get a better tasting dosa at home by using quality ingredients and following a few tips. Use an iron skillet or tawa for making dosas, it not only cooks evenly but also adds to the flavor. I swear by my cast iron pans, they grow increasingly better as they age and you keep working at the seasoning of the pan. I do not make dosas on non-stick pans anymore. Contrary to popular belief, the cast iron pans are not oil guzzlers, if you follow good seasoning practices and keep the pan in good condition. And once you have a good seasoned pan, do not ever part with it :-).

So here is a recipe of good masala dose with its accompaniments, Be prepared to spend some time reading the recipe below as it has many details and tips to making a good dose at home especially if you are a newbie to this South Indian delicacy. There are many different proportions to a good dosa batter and here is mine that yields a perfectly fool proof and yummylicious dose every time. 
Let us start by making the dosa batter, this is a 2 day process so planning is crucial. You need to ferment the batter for atleast 8-10 hours or more if the weather is cold. I do not favor the short cut practices of adding cooking soda or baking powder to the batter without fermenting it, somethings in life are best when done in a certain way. So, 

What do you need for the dose hittu or dosa batter? 
1 cup urad dal (I use whole white urad)
1/4 cup toor dal
1/4 cup chana dal
1/4 cup thick poha (avalakki or beaten rice)
3 cups rice (I use sona masoori) 
1 Tsp fenugreek seeds
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp sugar

How do you make dosa batter? 
  • Take all ingredients listed except for salt & sugar in a big vessel, wash them a couple of times and soak them in double the quantity of water for 4-5 hours. 
  • Drain the water and grind the ingredients together into a smooth paste (use water as needed to make a thick batter of dropping consistency).
  • Mix once, cover and keep aside in a warm corner of the kitchen to ferment for 8-10 hours or until it starts forming a nice convex layer in top with a few bubbles. 
  • Before making dosas, add salt & sugar and mix the batter, adjust with water to get a nice consistency to spread on the pan. 
What do you need to make potato palya? 
4 medium sized potatoes
1 big onion 
1 inch piece ginger
2-3 green chilies
1 Tsp chana dal (for crunch, omit if you do not like it or use cashew nuts)
few curry leaves
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tsp mustard
1 Tsp cumin 
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/8 Tsp Asafoetida
1/4 Tsp turmeric powder
Optional ingredients: 
few sprigs of cilantro chopped
few cashew nuts
fistful of cooked green peas
How do you make potato palya? 
  • Wash, cut into half and cook the potatoes until soft. 
  • Let cool, peel the skin off and mash into a smooth paste. 
  • Remove ends of the green chilies, slit them vertically in half (or chop them into pieces if you prefer)
  • Wash, peel and grate ginger. 
  • Heat a pan, add oil, when the oil is hot, add asafoetida, chana dal, mustard and cumin. 
  • Let the seeds pop, add cashews, green peas if using, add slit green chilies and curry leaves. 
  • After 30 secs, add thinly chopped onion, salt, turmeric powder and mix it well. 
  • Let cook on medium heat until onions turn limp. 
  • Add mashed potatoes, mix and if too dry add a couple of spoons of water. 
  • Taste test for salt and adjust. 
  • Add chopped cilantro on top and keep aside until ready to use. 
  • You can add a spoon of lemon/lime juice if you like the tart taste, do it after the stove is switched off.
What do you need to make red chutney? 
1/4 cup of roasted gram dal (Kadle in kannada, putnala pappu in Telugu)
1 medium onion (use the red onions as they are milder in flavor)
1 small tomato
4-5 dry red chilies soaked in warm water for 10 mins
1/2 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1-2 cloves of garlic (I do not use it)
How to make the red, fiery chutney? 
  • Drain the water from the chilies, take all the ingredients and blend them into a smooth paste. 
  • Do not use water to grind, juice from the tomato and wetness of the onion will be sufficient. 
  • Onions and tomatoes add flavor and also give volume to this chutney, if you want use a little bit more of roasted gram dal. 
  • This is a spicy chutney, use red chilies based on your heat tolerance. 
What do you need to make white/green chutney? 
1 cup coconut
1/2 up roasted gram dal
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 clove garlic (omit if you don't like)
3-5 green chilies (adjust to taste)
fistful of fresh cilantro (if you want slightly green chutney, else omit this)
water to grind
How to make white chutney?
  • Take all the ingredients in a blender and blend it into a smooth paste of desired consistency. We like it a little thinner so the dosas can be easily dipped into them. 
I made some quick fix sambar to go with the meal today, recipe in another post. 

Bringing them all together: 
  • Heat a flat (preferably cast iron) pan on medium heat. 
  • Sprinkle a few drops of water and it should immediately sizzle up. 
  • Mix the batter, take a ladle full of batter, pour it in the center of the pan and with a swift motion, spread it circularly all around the pan. 
  • Drop spoonfuls of the red chutney in different places around the dosa (do not try to spread it at this time), add a few drops of oil all around, cover (yes cover it and see the notes below) and let cook for 45secs - a min. 
  • Take the cover off, the batter would be cooked with no hint of rawness, now with a flat spatula, spread the red chutney all around the dosa. 
  • Check to see if the bottom has attained a golden brown or any desired color, put a big heap of the potato palya in the center of the dosa, fold it and remove it onto a plate. 
  • Serve it with the white/green chutney and sambar. 
  • Repeat the above steps for as many dosas as you need, eat them hot. 
  • Masala dose batter is slightly thicker than regular dosas to achieve that pulpy, crispy layer. 
  • A wet grinder works best to make good idli, dosa batters but a strong motored mixer/blender would work well too, do it in batches if you need to. 
  • We like the potato palya to be soft but not watery, use good, mature potatoes with less starch. 
  • I always make extra potato palya as it seems to somehow reduce in quantity from the time I started on it and by the time I am ready to make dosas. A very believable disappearing act :-)
  • Keep a watch on the heat and the tawa temperature, these vary from kitchen to kitchen, you will become an expert over time. 
  • It is important to cool the pan slightly down when you pour the batter or else, it will get stuck in lumps on a very hot tawa and also cooks unevenly - remember how all the restaurant chefs spray about a cup of water between batches of dosas and spread it all around with a broom :-), the idea is to control the temperature. 
  • Masala dosa is never cooked on both sides, it dries up the final product. You need to cook the dosa enough so it is neither burnt nor under cooked. Covering the dosa as soon as it is spread helps to get a nicely cooked dosa where you can easily spread the red chutney and also ensures the bottom browns up in the process. 
  • Adding a half spoon of sugar to the batter helps get a nice hue to the cooked dosa. 
  • I use a cut onion to spread oil in between dosas on the pan, this gives a nice color to the dosa too.