I grew up with a steady dose of Dosai-- the versatile anytime crepe-like flatbread made from hearty urad dal and rice. I didn't think about it much, it was a staple and therefore taken for granted. I didn't bother to analyze its nutritional value when I was young, I didn't care to know much about it, except that the batter was always handy and my mom would make this simple dish without a second thought and serve it with any handy chutneys or leftover sambaror kozhambu.
Now that I am trying to feed my own kids, I find that this unassuming Dosai is my best friend-- the kind I can take liberties with and not fall out. The kids love it with or without chutneys and dips on the side. And, these are second-gen enhanced non-traditional Dosai that tradition-loving puritans would probably frown at.
There is the 'ordinary' dosai that was favored by the kids when they were toddlers. A slight variation of it is the Brown Rice Dosai that always satisfies. And then, there is the Soy Bean Dosai which comes from a multipurpose batter that doubles as Idlee batter for steaming. On and off, I make the batter with a mix of barley and pearl millet with brown rice and urad dal which gives a wholesome Barley-Millet Dosai.
It helps to plan ahead: I typically soak the ingredients overnight on a Thursday evening, grind it Friday night, then allow it to ferment all weekend thanks to natural wild yeast in the air. In winter, I help it along by warming up the oven a bit, turning off the oven, and leaving the batter inside the oven to stay warm and ferment better. The batter is ready when it bubbles a bit when stirred and emits a pleasant sour odor.
The batter, once fermented, can be stored in the fridge for a week. I take out a little at a time to make a few dosais as needed for breakfast or dinner, as they taste best fresh off the griddle.
Anyway, there are umpteen variations for the batter - just add whatever grams and pulses are handy and see how it turns out. Sometimes, the texture is off and the batter tends to stick to the griddle making it tough to cook if the combination is not right, but over time, it is easy enough to gauge the outcome while measuring and soaking the ingredients.
This Quinoa-Millet-Barley-Soybean Dosai is one such combination that turned out fine and was much relished by the family
Ingredients for the batter:
1 cup urad dal
1 cup quinoa
1 cup millet
1 cup barley
1 cup soy beans
2 cups brown rice
- Soak the ingredients for the batter overnight
- Grind using a heavy-duty blender or wet grinder to a smooth batter with the consistency of pancake batter
- Leave it in a warm place to ferment and rise - preferably cover with a cheese cloth or any breathable towel - anywhere from 24 to 48 hours
- Add some salt and a little water if needed to make the batter spreadable on the griddle to make the crepes.
- Cook much like pancakes-- brown one side, flip and cook the other side
Here, I serve it with red-chili chutney and home-made Mint Thuvaiyal- a pesto-like South Indian concoction. Mint is getting wild in the backyard, their runner roots taking over a small patch thanks to recent rains and warm weather.
Fresh mint leaves from the garden sauteed with toasted urad dal and chana dal, plus grated coconut, chilies, and tamarind paste come together to make this quick thick chutney-like blend referred to as Thuvaiyal/Thogayal in Tamil.