As soon as I bit into my first dosa and tasted the slightly sour pancake, a little crunchy on the outside and still soft and warm on the inside, filled with spicy, salty potatoes, and moist with flavorful sambar, I knew I was onto something. Not that I've ever met an Indian dish or a pancake I didn't like, but I don't think anyone has made dosas on the raclette grill for the internet yet.
I'd never even heard of dosas until Jeremy told me about the "Indian crepes" he'd seen people lining up to eat in New York. I'm game for making anything that looks like a pancake, though, so I figured it would be a fun challenge.
My first inclination was to try to make them from scratch, but the authentic recipes call for rice flour and lentils, ground in a special appliance. Then the batter has to be fermented for a day or so...it sounded labor-intensive, complicated, and potentially expensive (if I were to purchase a wet grinder). When I read the list of ingredients for the sambar typically served as an accompaniment, I threw in the towel.
Ain't nobody got time for that...
But then I found an instant mix online. Making dosas would be as easy as making crepes on the raclette grill! Still, we wanted to make fondue chinoise, hot pot, and raclette teppanyaki...I never had a free night.
We finally took the time to travel to Charlottesville, Virginia so we could go to the Indian grocery store there. We were hoping to find the dry mix to make our own dosas. The owner did us one better and showed us already-made batter, sold by the quart. We bought a tub of that and a few kinds of chutney: mango, mint, coconut, tomato, etc.
Dosas are typically served with a variety of chutneys as well as sambar, a soupy, spicy vegetable dish eaten like a dip the way that salsa is kind o a salad-dip. However, at the end of the day, my kitchen has lots of Western herbs and spices, and lots of tasty condiments for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Thai food, but not so many ingredients for Indian food. I did what I could and used substitutions where I had to.
I used the premade batter for the dosas, as well as store-bought chutneys and sambar paste, but I made my own potato masala (aloo masala) for the filling.
Once we rolled one, it was obvious how raclette dosas are like raclette crepes: they are both thin pancakes with tasty fillings, served with drool-inducing sauces. However, while crepes can be sweet or savory, dosas are always savory and often spicy. However, dosas don't even need to be turned over, so you don’t have to worry so much about tearing them, making them even easier to make than crepes.
Prepare or buy ahead:
How to make dosas on the raclette grill
You will need:
Directions to cook dosas at the table
We used pre-made batter, but you can buy instant dosa mix online or at an Indian grocer. To make the dosas, we used the "crepe side" of our cast-iron raclette grill top. For best results, make sure the batter is at room-temperature when you want to cook.
1.Heat the grill to medium-high. When it's hot, spray or brush it with vegetable oil. Stab the onion quarter with a fork and rub it over the surface of the grill to flavor the oil.
2. When the grill is ready, a diner can pour a ladle of batter into the middle of one of the circles on the grill. (Our Swissmar raclette grill has two circles, so we could cook two dosas simultaneously.) Using the back of the ladle, spread the batter out in concentric circles as quickly and smoothly as possible.
3. The dosa will cook to a crisp within two minutes. Using a spatula, make sure the edges lift easily off the pan. Do not flip it: only the bottom needs to be cooked to a crispy brown.
4. Scoop a few tablespoons of the potato mixture into the center of the dosa. We also drizzled our favorite chutneys over the potatoes and sprinkled them with chopped fresh cilantro for extra flavor. Using the spatula, fold over the edges like you would fold the edges of a crepe or a burrito.
5. Put the dosa on your plate. You can eat it with a fork, or you can eat it your hands when it cools down just a little. Break off the crisp edges and dip them in chutney or the sambar. You may prefer to spoon the chutney or the sambar over the dosa instead of dipping it. Use a fork if it's too messy to eat the potatoes with your hands.
Some of my favorite online stores might have just what you need for your next tabletop meal!
Asian Food Grocer has a great selection of essential ingredients and many hard-to-find items.
Cilantro Cook Shop has a great selection of quality raclette and fondue sets.
For The Gourmet has an amazing selection of cheeses and chocolates.
Sephra specializes in chocolate, caramel and fruit fondues... and fountains.