Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fresh Coriander, Ginger, and Chile Crêpes Recipe (Rava Dosa)

Making these dosas always reminds me of living in the East Village, in a wonderful high-rise with a view of the Chrysler Building, and a great, open kitchen. The building was the one-time headquarters of the Black Panthers, and then home to Iggy Pop, who I would sometimes sit near on a bench in Tompkins Square Park, or pass in the lobby saying hi, pretending to know him.

I remember lazy days with Lisa at Life Cafe, drinks at Mona's, creating my first email account, taking the bus to work. I remember trying to make soap in that kitchen with my friend Jared and nearly burning the skin off our hands, and I remember my ex-boyfriend, Tim, cordoning off the bathroom area with duct tape barriers and a large Do Not Enter sign when he was startled by a water bug in there, the flying kind, the enormous kind. I was away a lot then, on tour, but when I was home we would cook, taking advantage of the many Indian markets near our house. We used these spices frequently, their scent hanging on our clothes in the heavy humidity of summer, pungent enough for one friend to rename Tim Marrakesh. South Indian, not Moroccan, these dosas are rich with memories of my first serious experiments in the kitchen.

Fresh Coriander, Ginger, and Chile Crêpes (Rava Dosa)
from Flatbreads and Flavors, a Baker's Atlas, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

I make the full recipe, but only cook what I want at each meal, keeping the rest of the batter in a covered container in the refrigerator, and this time, I used a smaller omelet pan to make the crêpes, and they turned out fine. They might even be easier to flip if you make the smaller version.

2 cups semolina flour (this time I used chickpea flour, for a richer tasting dosa)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 red chile pepper or jalapeno, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh or dried curry leaves; if using dried, soak in water for 10 minutes before using
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm water

You will need a medium-sized bowl, a large cast-iron or other heavy griddle, a flat wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, and a metal spatula.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the semolina flour, yogurt, chile, ginger, curry leaves, coriander leaves, and salt. Stir in the water a little bit at a time until you have a smooth batter. Cover the bowl and let the batter rest for approximately 1 hour.

Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy griddle over medium-high heat. Using a paper towl, lightly oil the surface of the griddle, and reserve the towel for use between each dosa. When the griddle is hot, pour on 1/2 cup of the batter. As you pour, move in a circle out from the middle, distributing the batter in as large a circle as possible; then use the back of a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to spread the batter to cover the gaps, again increasing the diameter of the dosa, to at least 9 or 10 inches. (Don't worry about making it too thin; the thinner the better.) Cook the dosa for 1 1/2 minutes; after cooking for 1 minute, begin to loosen it from the griddle with a metal spatula. Coax the dosa, don't force it, as it will come off easily when it is golden brown and ready. Flip to the other side and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until lightly browned in spots. Remove to a plate.

Rub the surface of the griddle with the oiled paper towel or, if it's particularly dry, add a little more oil. Continue cooking until all the dosas have been made. They can be stacked one on top of the other as they are cooked, or served immediately as they are made.

Makes 8 thin crêpe-like breads, about 9 to 10 inches in diameter.


Fritz Bogott said...

My grocer says he likes to make these with soured day-old dosa batter and with chopped curd chilly in place of the fresh chiles. He sold me a bag of curd chilly, and we've been eating them straight, pan-fried in a little oil. They haven't made it into dosas yet, but maybe this weekend...

Banu said...

Sounds delicious. I have never had a curd chile, but now that you mention it, I am curious about making them. Have you made them yourself? Do you have a recipe? Please let me know how the dosas turn out using them!

Fritz Bogott said...

(Hi Banu. We're family-by-affection with Amy Schwartz. She referred me to you. Forgot to explain in my original comment.)

Mamta says:

Curd chillies are hot green chillies that have been soaked in yogurt and dried. Because of the soaking, most of the heat dissipates. Frying them before serving reduces the heat even further. We had them in Kerala recently with curd rice and they tasted sooo good. I even bought some to bring back with me. They can be bought readymade or if you don't find them you can make them using the recipe below.

Curd Chilli pickle

To one kg of green hot chillies(small) add 5 tsp salt, 2 cups of very sour curd and 1 cup tamarind pulp and leave it for one week, stirring well once a day. Then dry compltely in hot sun or oven. Fry before serving. This tastes excellent with curd rice.
I'm guessing in this case "curd" refers to "yogurt" and not to "chenna," but I'm not sure.

Banu said...

Thank you for sharing this information, and hi to Amy, too! I'm definitely interested in these curd dishes, and will try them out soon.