Dosa by touch
My parents' kitchen is like a mechanic's shop for all things seed and grain. In addition to all the blending, beating and creaming we all do in our kitchen, she now grinds her own grains with a dry stone mill and as of today can make her own dosas in a wet grinder that my aunt Mona got for her. Mona, Atimbear (my uncle) and Patti are here in the states until the end of October, visiting the family.
Dosa is a southern Indian grain pancake made of mostly rice with some dal mixed in. It's fermented in the fridge in water and then ground until completely fine and swirled like a crepe on a hot griddle. And like anything fermented, it gets better with a little age. It's divine with all sorts of chutneys and fillings and things. If you've ever been to a fancy Indian restaurant you may have experienced a 2-3 foot long dosa being proudly presented to the table with a bunch of stainless steel cups filled with all sorts of hot and sweet chutneys. My mom has been wanting to make brown rice dosa for over 40 years, but without the right equipment she could never get the texture right. The batter has to be incredibly fine and smooth.
So this morning, after my mom had unpackaged the machine and fermented some dal and rice at Mona's suggestion, we all - my grandmother Patti included - huddled around the whirring machine to see what was happening.
Its double whirring conical stone grinders make you think of mixing paint or making pottery. When it comes to the look of dosa batter, that's not too much off the mark.
Like any good experiment, everyone had their own questions and opinions. Hmm, is it too wet? Will it grind completely? How does the texture look? Should we mix the rice and the dal together? Mona said no! So we asked the expert in the group, my grandmother, who graciously came over and stuck her finger in to check the texture. All these new-fangled old-fashioned machines and she will always have the foolproof way of testing things: by touch.
So with the dal and the rice all blended together and put in the oven, the hope is that tonight we will be feasting on dosa!