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

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!


Ina said...

Erin: Yummmmm, this so makes me want some East Indian Food - now, for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Our son made us flat bread the last time he visited...I think there may still be some of those Lentils left. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

Ina said...

Just wanted to say thanks again Erin - we had your Dosa's last night with an Indian Curry dinner - divine! I did a link back to your site...gonna have leftovers for breakfast! :)

Erin said...

Ina, I'm so glad you like them! Thanks for the link. :)