Fermented Flatbread, Indian Dosa

Hard at work in my secret laboratory!

Hard at work in my secret laboratory!

I’ve just begun my latest mad science experiment. I’ve been making fermented dough–batter, actually–for dosa and uttapam, which are flatbreads typically eaten in South India for breakfast.

Although the process takes time, it isn’t complicated. Rice and urad dahl are soaked in water for several hours, then drained and blended with water to create a slurry.

The mixture is left to ferment overnight, but even here in Honolulu in summer, it took two days in my kitchen. You end up with a bubbling, stinky mixture that makes me feel like a crazy scientist in a hidden laboratory. Mwah ha ha ha!

The batter is cooked like pancakes in a skillet or on a griddle. It can also be spread paper-thin so they cook into crisp rounds.

I’ve tried them with and without fenugreek seeds, which add a fragrance akin to maple syrup, and I’m going to try them again with chana dahl (garbanzo beans) once I go buy some. Salt is added after the ferment so that it doesn’t slow the fermentation process down.

I have fallen in love with the tangy flavor, reminiscent of a good sourdough bread. While I have yet to get the techniques for cooking down, the result is nevertheless delicious and well worth the advance planning.

Uttapam and Coconut Chutney

Uttapam and Coconut Chutney

Next I need to get good variations on the accompanying dishes they are usually served with. One is coconut sambar or chutney, another is tomato chutney, and a third is sambar, a watery dahl and vegetable curry just perfect for dipping into.

There is a recipe and video here.

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