Monday, March 27, 2006

Sinfully Delicious!

By the title of this post, you probably thought that I made a double fudge chocolate cake and have gone off the Weight Watcher's wagon, right? Wrong! I actually made dosa which is an Indian thin crepe dish. Dosa in Indonesian language (my native) means SIN. That's right, so you can imagine how so amused I was when a South Indian restaurant opened near our house called Dosa Place. Yeah, a SINFUL PLACE!

It was indeed a sinful place by the way we devoured dosas, sambars, bajjis, pakoras, and vadas in this restaurant, no wonder I have to pay for it now. Their dishes are so delicious. I haven't met anyone who doesn't like dosas. The restaurant is not 100% vegetarian but Indians really know how to cook vegan/vegetarian dishes because I believe vegetarianism was born in India thousands years ago. Their South Indian Specialties in their menu are mostly vegans.

Dosa is usually filled with spicy curried potatoes (called masala potato) and accompanied by sambar and chutneys. Sambar is a spicy thick soup and chutney is a sauce condiment. There are so many different type of sambars and chutneys that if I explain them all in details, this blog will be quite long.

There are many different dosas too. The most favorite one that people order in the restaurant is Masala Dosa. But I have to be different than anyone else, I guess, my favorite one is Rava Dosa which is a lacy thin crepe made of cream of wheat (farina), rice flour, wheat flour, and spices.

Well, if we live 3 minutes from Dosa Place and 20 minutes from Little India where we can go to many different 100% vegetarian South Indian restaurants, why do I bother to make it at home? The answer is lower fat. Yes, those restaurants use a lot of oil that their food tend to be greasy. I am trying to loose weight but I love ethnic dishes. My challenge is to make it at home as good as the restaurants' with lower calories.

I started by searching and buying Indian cookbooks and found a few that seems to be everyone's favorites. Here are the two that I bought and enjoyed (my in-laws gave me a xmas gift certificate to shop at Amazon, yahoo!): Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking and Chandra Padmanabhan's Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India. Then, I tried their recipes by cutting down the amount of oil in the recipe to 1 to 2 teaspoons.

The Rava Dosa was served with Small Onion Sambar (homemade)and Indian Mango Pickle(store bought). The filling was Spicy Potato Filling(homemade). I didn't make any chutney. Honestly, mango pickle was not a good choice as a condiment for dosa, chutney should be better.

To make dosas, Indians use a tawa or dosa griddle which is a cast iron flat griddle. If you google 'dosa griddle', it will return with many results to buy from low to high prices. The cookbooks say that a cast iron frying pan will do. I am glad since I don't want to buy yet another gadget for the kitchen. It works really well with my good old cast iron frying pan.

The trick to make this dosa is to dribble or splash the batter onto a preheated cast iron griddle. That's what makes the lace or holes on the crepe. The batter has to be very thin like a crepe batter so you can dribble it or splash it. It was FUN! It took me a while to get the correct technique but with patience I conquered it. I may not be hired as a chef at Dosa Place but I am good enough to impress 2 people: my husband and me. I cooked one side for several minutes until the bottom is brown and crispy, then, flip it and cook the other side for several minutes.

This dosa is best eaten right away since it is crispy and will soften when it cools off. Unfortunately, the cook(me!) had to stand by the stove making this delicious dish while the husband sat on the dining table devouring it. No fair! Now you know that it is well worth it to pay a few dollars at Dosa Place, at least for me. But honestly, I enjoyed the challenge. This dosa is pretty darn good and we really had a delicious SINFUL weekend!

Credits: Spicy Potato Filling and Rava Dosa (Cream of Wheat Crepes with Green Chilies and Ginger)recipes are from Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking, page 156 and 159. Small Onion Sambar(Vengaya Sambar) recipe is from Chandra Padmanabhan's Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India, page 2.

Rava Dosa's nutritional facts with 2 tsp. oil:
Nutrition (per serving): 54.2 calories; 18% calories from fat; 1.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 374.5mg sodium; 79.8mg potassium; 9.9g carbohydrates; 0.6g fiber; 1.1g sugar; 9.3g net carbs; 1.3g protein; 1.1 points.

Spicy Potato filling nutritional facts with 2 tsp. oil:
Nutrition (per serving): 168.3 calories; 8% calories from fat; 1.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 622.6mg sodium; 830.8mg potassium; 35.7g carbohydrates; 4.6g fiber; 5.6g sugar; 31.1g net carbs; 4.8g protein; 2.7 points.


Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Ah, dosa...! I live 1 1/2 hours from the nearest Indian restaurant, and I don't even think they serve dosa! So I, too, make them myself. I love the rava ones, too-- I love them all! The ultimate comfort food. Actually, I used to make the masala dosa from the book "Laurel's Kitchen", which was one of the few good vegetarian cookbooks in the 70's. I made them from soaked urad dal and rice. My kids used to love them for breakfast or lunch with homemade yogurt (we had a cow way back then). Mitch is certainly well-fed, these days! You have made me very hungry!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Do you know what those crispy white "rice puff" crackers are called? I had them in a Vietnamese veg restaurant down your way one time and I can't find them. They served them with the green jackfruit salad. They look like shrimp chips, but are just rice, sometimes with black sesame seed. Thanks!

Unknown said...


It is called Sesame Rice Cracker or Banh Da. It looks like the dry translucent rice paper for the Vietnamese spring roll skin when you buy it in the market.

Here is a good site explaining it:

I love it since I don't have to deep fry and can roast it on top of fire. I can do the same for papadum. So it is low fat.


Dori said...

Sinfully delish!?..... well, I never! ;-)

Really, I have never heard of such a dish, but with such tempting pictures of yours I have been fully persuaded that I must try this soon.

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