If anyone ever took a peek in my fridge, they would more often than not find a large bowl of some sort of dosa batter ready. I love dosa. In any form. It is one of those foods that I like to eat in peace…just sitting alone in the breakfast room with a plate of crispy dosas accompanied with chutney or pickle, my regular cup of black earl grey or english breakfast tea and savoring every morsel as I read the morning news.
Over the years, my cooking has taken a somewhat healthier approach towards choosing ingredients that won’t alter the taste of a dish too much. And given that dosa is a very frequent affair for me at breakfast or lunch, the idea of using oatmeal instead of just rice and urad dal sounded really appealing! Who would have known that the bland oatmeal would stand proud and tall in keeping both the nutritional value and taste of the humble carb-laden original. And the best part is, fermenting the batter is a lot easier than the traditional dosa batter, and there was no compromising on the crispiness of the final outcome!
For the batter
- 2 cups oatmeal flakes
- 1 cup rice (any variety like parboiled, jasmine or sona masoori)
- 1/2 cup urad dal
- 1.5 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
- ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper (optional)
- ½ tsp red chilli pepper flakes (optional)
- refined oil or spray for shallow frying
Soak oatmeal in enough water to cover it. Separately soak rice and urad dal together. After 4-5 hours, grind the rice and urad dal together using the same water it was soaked in. Save the excess water for adjusting the consistency of the batter later. Grind the oatmeal. There is no need to add more water. Being already soaked, it grinds easily without additional water. Now mix the two batters together, add salt and give it a good stir to mix everything well together. Adjust the consistency of the batter using the saved water from before. The batter should be rather thick but easy to pour. Cover and set aside in a warm place to ferment. If the weather is cool and you have an oven, preheat the oven to 350º F , switch off and then set the batter, covered and undisturbed, in the oven to ferment overnight or for at least 8 hours. Keep an eye on the batter after 8 hours. Oatmeal ferments so fast that it can actually bubble up, spill over and make a real mess inside your oven. Not good!! A good indicator of the batter being ready is the slightly sour smell that you will get when you lift the cover. Once fermented, you can set this batter in the fridge and prepare fresh dosas as and when needed. The batter keeps well for up to 6 days in winter and about 4 in summer.
Before preparing dosas, add jeera, red chilli flakes and coarsely crushed black pepper. You can make plain dosas too, but I just find that adding these spices always gives the dosa that extra oomph of flavor. If the batter seems too thick, add a little water to make it of a pancake consistency. Heat a pre-greased tawa, move the tawa off the flame and pour the batter in the center of the tawa using a soup ladle. Quickly but steadily, spread the batter outwards in a circular motion. Put the tawa back on a medium flame, and roast the dosa. Almost immediately you will see bubbles appearing all over the dosa. Pour 1/2 a tsp of oil
along the edges of the dosa and over the dosa. I usually use cooking spray as it covers the dosa in a fine mist and the amount used per dosa is much less. When you see the edges of the dosa come off the tawa easy, gently ease the dosa off and turn it over. Cook on the other side for a few minutes. Fold into half and serve hot with pickle, chutney, sambhar or vegetable stew. Yummylicious!