Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mysore Masala Dosa - How to make Mysore Masala Dosa

Mysore Masala Dosa is one of the better known dishes from Mysore (though we just call it masala dosa! :). The dosas in the Mysore/Bangalore area are different from other parts of South India. In other regions, they are usually very thin and crunchy. The dosas we make are crispy and brown/red on the outside with a bit of a "meat"/sponginess on the inside, to bite on. We do not use chutney powder as a spread inside a thin, whitish dosa, contrary to what restaurants in other regions/countries sell as Mysore Masala Dosa (though the chutney powder is not a bad option at all! ) A thick, red, garlic-red chilli chutney is smeared inside the dosa before the masala (potato bhaji) is filled. A small pat of butter atop the bhaji and the dosa gets folded, ready to be served with coconut chutney.

That said, not all restaurants in the Mysore/Bangalore region make dosas this way i.e crispy on the outside yet spongy on the inside, not to forget tasty too. So my biggest grouse when I moved to a "newer" part of town was the lack of a good dosa restaurant in the vicinity. But I was quite happy to make the trek to the older parts of town to the restaurants that I knew made killer dosas, braving the awful traffic of Bangalore. After being deprived of the pleasure of having a good dosa when the mood hit, for over a decade of my life (don't even get me started on the dosas here!), it wasn't hard to take that trek across town. It is all a matter of perspective, right? Plus I'm always willing to travel for good food! :) So anyway, coming back to the restaurants, each of these old-time-favorites and good-dosa-making newer restaurants have their own secret recipe for their dosa batter. Each is different and they all taste good in their own unique way. The masalas and the chutneys are all different too.  And with a nice cup of filter coffee....ooh la la!

My Mom and sister both make amazing dosas at home. The addition of methi and the proportion all make for a delicious dosa, that can be eaten even without accompaniments. For masala dosa, my Mom actually seasons the oil+ghee combo with fried onion, that really takes this over the edge! Each bite is a small bit of heaven. The trick is in getting the batter right (and light) and infusing the dosa with a good amount of fat to get the crispness and the right taste. 

For the dosa batter:
4 cups raw rice
1 cup urad dal
1/4 cup poha/avalakki (a big handful)
1 tbsp methi seeds
Salt to taste
Water for soaking
Oil+Ghee (or plain oil) for making the dosas

Soak the rice, methi seeds and dal together for 5-6 hours.
Soak poha for 15 minutes in water, before grinding.
Grind the rice-dal and poha together, until very smooth, adding a little water.
Add salt and mix the batter well. Let it ferment overnight (or 8-10 hours). The batter should have risen and look light & airy.

For the Palya (potato filling):
2 large potatoes, boiled and mashed (make sure there are no big lumps)
1 large onion, sliced into 1" strips
2-3 green chillies, chopped fine
1 tsp grated ginger (optional)
1 tbsp chopped cilantro/fresh coriander
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp water
salt to taste
Tadka: oil, mustard seeds, turmeric

Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When they pop, add turmeric, green chillies and onion.
Fry until the onions are translucent.
Add the mashed potatoes, salt and a tbsp of water. Mix well. Finish with lemon juice and chopped cilantro.

For the Red Chutney:
1/4 cup chana dal
1 tbsp coconut or 1 tbsp chopped onion (both optional)
3-4 pods of garlic
5-6 red chillies (or to taste)
salt to taste

Roast chana dal in a little oil on medium flame, until slightly browned and the raw smell is gone. Add red chillies and fry for another 30 seconds. Crush and fry garlic and onion (if using) for another minute or so. Switch off stove. Add a few tbsps of water, so it cools while softening the dal too. Add salt and grind with very little water. This red chutney for the masala dosa should be thick.

For the Coconut Chutney:
To Grind:
1 cup coconut shreds
1 tbsp fried chana dal
1 tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
1" piece of ginger
3 green chillies (or to taste)
1/4 tsp tamarind paste
salt to taste
Tadka: Oil, mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves

Lightly sauté green chillies and coriander in a bit of warm oil, just to release the flavors. Cool and grind with the remaining "to grind" ingredients until smooth, adding a little water. Make the tadka and add on top.

Mysore Masala Dosa


Heat a lightly greased griddle/tawa until very hot. Sprinkle a little water on the tawa (do this for every dosa. Helps cook more evenly and less prone to dosa sticking to the tawa). When the water evaporates, pour a ladleful of batter in the center of the tawa and spread it in a circular motion, to form a round dosa. Do not spread it paper thin. Remember the Mysore style of dosa does need a little sponginess on the inside, while being crisp out.
Pour about a tbsp of oil+ghee around the dosa. You do need a bit more fat for a good masala dosa. Don't skimp on this, if you can help it.
Cover and cook on medium-high until browned and crispy around the edges.
Do not turn over to cook the other side. Simply spread a bit of the red chutney around the center until about  an inch or so around the edges.
Place some palya a little off center and put a small pat of butter (optional but highly recommended), before folding the dosa.
Place on a plate to serve, along with some coconut chutney on the side.
Go ahead, indulge! 

Note: This batter cannot be used for making idlies. This is purely a dosa batter.
    Do not make the batter watery. It should be slightly thick to get the sponginess.


Lakshmi Venkatesh said...

Looks so authentic especially along with the chutneys.

Suman Arthy said...

I love masala dosa...urs looks so yummy... said...

I have grown up on the thin, crispy, generously spread red dry chutney Mysore Masala Dosa back at home. When I moved to Bangalore and even more when I visited Mysore I was surprised to see the 'real' Mysore masala dosa. No complaints here I loved and still love both version!!

Maayeka said...

wow!loved this..very well explained and so perfectly done..bookmarked!

Cham said...

My DH asks for crispy outside and spongy inside, obviously he is from karnataka, me always had the thin crispy one all my life!
Ur chutney with ginger addition sounds new- shall try ur version.

Kannada Cuisine said...

What a it with the 'meat' inside

Anonymous said...

I so agree with the thin outside and spongy inside! It's so difficult to explain that to the others while they savor the thin dosas that's called mysore masala dosa in US.

Manasi said...

I am from Mumbai and have tasted several versions of MMD, not that they were not tasty, but the versions changed in almost every restaurant;)
I'm glad you blogged the real thing. I will make these over the weekend!

Chitra said...

Bookmarked it . its in my try list. will let u know soon :)

Nagashree said...

Yep, yep masala dosa should be thick and crispy, that is how I like it. Looks delicious with the kempu chutney

LG said...

ahaaa...looks absolutely yummy!

Shweta in the Kitchen said...

Lovely write up Vani & great recipe too. You wont believe it but till my college days I would only order Mysore masala dosa when we visited a restaurant. I miss it here.

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Bong Mom said...

I love the Mysore Masala Dosa at the restaurants but I have no idea which is authentic and which is not. most had the red chutney powder you said instead of the chutney.
The day I will eat the real thing, I might just melt with pleasure. Any place in NJ makes this good ?

Vani said...

Thanks Lakshmi, Suman, Anjanaji, LG, Shwetha

Gauri - enjoying the best of both worlds, huh? :)

Cham - oh yeah, a true Kannadiga he :) I missed masala dosas when I was in Madras but the amazing adai/aviyal and ghee roast were great craving-satisfiers.

KC, Nagashree - yup, that is how we roll! :)

Anon - I hear you! When I pay for a masala dosa, I want the true blue one. My grouse here too.

Manasi, Chitra - Thanks and do let me know if you try.

San - Hoysala in Somerset is run by some BLR folks, who know the real deal. You have tell them you want the crispy/spongy Mysore way and they do it. Else, due to public preference they thin it out. I miss their buffets (which also had dosas, which was pretty much all I would eat!). Dosa EXpress in Iselin used to be good. Heard it has changed hands now and is not so great but that is hearsay, not my experience.

Caterers NJ said...

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Uj said...

Yumm Vani.. I am craving for Mysore masala dosa now. I have always made just the masala dosa but have never tried it Mysore style one. Bookmarking this

Jiah said...

This looks yumm.. Love the crispy dosa.

lalitha said...

Hi vani
u have nice blog. yummy recipes in my try is u r masala dosa ..can u pls clear my doubt regarding proportions. 4 raw rice+ 1 idli rice is ir right ??

Vani said...

Lalitha, it is 4 cups raw rice and that's it. Or 3 cups dosa rice and 1 cup idli rice. Thanks for the q. I've edited the ingredients list so there's no confusion :)

VeggieFoodie said...

Awesome chutney recipe... we already made it 3-4 times in the last couple of months!
Added to our recipe site

Sree Vani said...

Gal..i live in Germany and was craving for an authentic masala dosa (we originally hail from Bangalore). While i was searching on the internet i found your blog and on reading the post, i knew i had a winner. Tried this recipe and my family LOVED it! Thanks for the really good description and tips. :)

Vani (btw...i am also Vani)

Vani said...

Glad you liekd it, Veggie Foodie.

Vani - good to know another Vani! Glad you enjoyed the masala dosa recipe posted here. I can have masala dosas anytime! thanks for the feedback

pardeep sharma said...
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saurabh kumar said...
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jaanu k said...
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Charles Narasi said...

I really like your website and your
recipes. Kudos !
For potato palya ,I add roasted
cashew pieces ,makes it better.
Charlie Narasi.

Anusha Lakshminarayanan said...

How to fry and add onions to oil/ ghee mixture?

jasmin jew said...

Amazing post.. thanks for sharing
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Shai Khan said...

Your explanation was awesome and even easy to.I will try this today only can't wait for long...
Masala Dosa

Mink Foodiee said...

Interesting Post!!