Living without gluten, casein, soy, eggs and peanuts. Living with ASD and ADHD. Life is good!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lentil and Millet Flat Bread

So I have fallen in love with dosa (lentil and rice flat breads). I love them at any time of the day, stuffed with anything (especially steamed veggies) or just plain with a bit of salt. And it got me to thinking...why can't I use another grain in place of the rice? Such as...millet? For a little variety, no? It took a bit of searching, but I came across a recipe for Fox Millet Dosa (Korra Biyam) and promptly tried it. I don't know where to find Fox Millet, but whatever...regular old millet works fine. And I'm using red lentils instead of urad dal. I just can't help it, mixing things up with a devil-may-care attitude. But the end result? Tasty.

Basically, follow the dosa recipe exactly except use millet instead of rice. I let the lentils and millet soak for a day (about 10 hours), ground them to a paste, then let them ferment overnight (another 10 or so hours) before placing the batter in the refrigerator. After a few days, the batter has a nice tang. I'm a fan. We've been enjoying lentil and millet dosas all week now, and I'm not even slightly bored yet. In fact, I'm thinking of making another batch and serving them with Ina's yummy looking East Indian recipes!

(Lentil and millet dosa stuffed with chicken salad for dinner.
Next time, I'll stuff them with a curried chicken salad, or maybe a curried potato concoction.
Thanks for the inspiration, Ina!)

(Lentils and millet ground to a thick paste. This is smoother than the lentil and rice batter.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lentil and Rice Flat Bread

Recently I visited a friend who treated me to what she called dosas, which are South Indian lentil and rice flat breads - basically, savory pancakes or crepes. I had been telling her about reading Wild Fermentation, making my own yogurt and trying to decide what fermented food to try next. She jumped up and insisted that I try her dosas, which are a fermented food and very easy to make. She says the longer the batter sits and ferments, the more sour it gets and she just loves that sour taste. I tried her dosa plain with a little salt and decided I really like that sour taste too. So I went home and have since been making dosas as often as possible!

Actually I'm not sure what I'm making can be called traditional dosas, which should look like smooth, thin, crispy crepes. My "dosas" are more like uttapam, which are thicker and more like pancakes. They are both made from the same batter, though, and they can both be called flat bread. Honestly, I don't care what they are called - they are delish! I love their taste and texture, and I love that they will bend and not split, so I can treat them a little bit like wraps or bendy tortillas. DH and I like to fill them with steamed vegetables and eat them for breakfast. I have even served them wrapped around hot dogs as a sort of pigs-in-a-blanket for the girls (okay, I feel a little guilty about totally adulterating a perfectly lovely ethnic food like that but at the same time, it's kind of fun to be a little irreverent).

(Breakfast - dosa stuffed with steamed broccoli!)

My friend gave me the recipe that her adopted Indian Grandma shared with her, which I promptly slightly modified - cutting back on the rice by a full cup (per this recipe here) and adding a little bit of coconut milk yogurt (a trick gleaned from Wild Fermentation) to sort of kick-start fermentation. The method is the same as "Grandma's", however. I also use short grain rice (per the advice here). Normally white rice is used, but I only ever keep brown rice in the house...the brown rice works fine, it just needs to soak longer (which for me is no problem, as I like a long ferment for a slightly tangy taste anyway). Urad dal (skinned split black lentils, found in Indian markets) are traditionally used, but split red lentils make an excellent substitute. Red lentils are easier to find than urad dal so that is what I use.

(Urad dal - skinned split black lentils.
You can use whole black lentils, but your batter will be flecked with dark spots.)

So without further ado, here is the recipe I have been using to make some seriously yummy lentil and rice flat bread!

1 cup urad dal OR red lentils
3 cups short grain brown rice
1 tbsp. plain coconut milk yogurt (such as So Delicious)
1/2 tsp. salt (preferably non-iodized)

Combine the lentils and rice in a large bowl. Rinse them, then cover with water and let soak overnight. In the morning, drain the soaking water, reserving a little bit for grinding. Grind the mixture to a paste in batches in a blender or food processor, adding enough of the soaking water to make a grainy paste. The goal is to have the paste be as smooth as possible, but it will be a little grainy (at least mine is) - this is okay.

(A slightly grainy paste is the best my blender will do!)

Place the batter in a large bowl. Stir in the yogurt. Place a thin towel over the bowl - the goal here is to let the wild yeast (needed for fermentation) in and keep bugs out. Place in a warm dark spot (in the summer on the counter, in the winter in the oven with the oven itself off and the oven light on).

Let the batter sit for a day. It will get a little bubbly - that is the natural fermentation. The longer it sits, the tangier it will taste. Let it sit until it tastes good to you (my friend says anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days - the longest I've let it ferment is 24 hours but she lets it sit for at least 2 days). Here is where she and I differ on the salt. I add the salt with the yogurt, she says to add the salt at the end of fermentation. I've tried both ways and can't tell a difference. For me it's easier to add the salt at the beginning so I don't forget to add it. When the batter tastes good to you, cover it and store in the fridge. It will keep for at least a week.

(Fermented batter - the red lentils give it a pretty salmon color.)

When you are ready to make your dosa/uttapam/flat bread, transfer some of the batter to a separate bowl. Add enough water to make a thinnish batter. At this point you may add cumin seeds, chopped green chilies, chopped cilantro or finely diced vegetables. Heat a non-stick skillet (I use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet) over medium-low heat and swirl a little oil into it (coconut oil is nice). When the oil is hot, ladle some batter into the skillet and swirl it into a thin pancake with the back of a spoon.

Cook until bubbly on top and golden brown on the bottom. Flip and cook until golden on the other side. Remove from the pan and repeat. Serve warm and enjoy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stuff (Inspired by Mom)

My mom had a knack for driving me batty when I was a kid. When I was seeking information (which I'm sure she considered "pestering"), she'd give me non-answers.

"Mom, where are you going?"
"Crazy! Want to come?"
"No, Mom! Where are you going?!"
"Crazy! Bye!"

That little exchange in particular would throw me into fits. Here's another good one.

"Mom, what's for dinner?"
"Really? Come on, Mom, what are you making for dinner?"
"I told you - Stuff. Want to try it?"

I'm happy to say my mom never really went crazy, and that her Stuff was pretty darn good. Stuff was usually leftovers, simmered in red sauce and served with rice. It was different every time, depending on what we had hanging around in the fridge. Here's one of my spins on Stuff. And I will admit to telling my daughters some of the same things my mom told me. Sometimes I open my mouth and I'm surprised to hear my mom talking. But the "crazy" thing? I'll never tell my daughters that one. Really Mom, that was infuriating!

Here's a variation on Rice and Beans Stuff. It's super fast, made with leftover grains and things found in the pantry. It meets the Anna and Megan stamp of approval. Best of all, it takes just about 10 minutes to make which is very welcome on busy nights.

3 cups cooked beans - pinto, black, white or black eyed peas (or 2 cans, drained)
vegetable broth
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salsa style tomatoes
lime juice
chili powder
parsley or cilantro
leftover cooked rice, quinoa or millet

In a small pot, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil. Cook the onion and garlic for a few minutes, stirring often, until soft. Add the beans (you can mash half of them if you like) and a little vegetable broth, maybe 1/4 cup. Stir in a little of the tomatoes, start with 1/2 cup. Add 1 tbsp. lime juice, 2 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. cumin, a little salt and a dash of pepper. You might want to throw in some cayenne for a little kick. Stir and heat, then taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Toss in some parsley or cilantro and serve over re-heated cooked grains. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired. When I want it to have more bite, I'll shake on some Frank's Red Hot.