Except for taking a fair investment of time in the kitchen, there's nothing not to love about dosas, and when I found out that Srivalli was hosting a roundup of dosa recipes, I couldn't resist the opportunity to try out a new version. In the past, I've used the extensive collection of traditional Indian recipes in Yamuna Devi's Lord Krishna's Cuisine cookbook for dosa ideas, but for this occasion I thought I would go with something a little more contemporary.
These savoury rice and split pea pancakes with buttery green beans and tomato-cilantro sauce are only slightly changed from a recipe in Yamuna's Table, another cookbook from Yamuna Devi that this time features Indian dishes updated for modern Western kitchens and often fused with other cuisines. Devi's recipes always have a perfect blend of complementary flavours, but the contrast in flavours and textures in this dish is simply amazing.
Savoury rice and split pea pancakes with buttery green beans and tomato-cilantro sauce
1/2 cup basmati rice
2/3 cup split green peas
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
olive oil for frying
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups whole-fat yogurt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Rinse the split peas thoroughly under cold running water for several minutes, then place in a bowl. Add 3 cups of cold water and loosely cover. Similarly, rinse the rice under cold running water as well and place in a separate bowl. Again, cover with 3 cups of cold water and loosely cover. Soak overnight and then drain.
Place the rice in a blender or food processor and grind until it forms a coarse cornmeal consistency. Add the split peas, jalapeños, cayenne and salt, and continue to process until ground. Pour in the water along with the flour and cilantro and blend until the mixture is a fairly thin grainy batter.
Preheat a 10-inch frying pan or cast-iron pan over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the pan to test the temperature — if it is just right, the drops will dance and sputter before vanishing. If the drops vanish right away, turn down the temperature slightly, or if the drops just sit on the surface before boiling, turn up the temperature slightly. Brush the surface with a light film of olive oil.
Scoop 1/3 cup of the batter and place on the middle of the pan. Wait a few seconds, then place the bottom of a ladle or large spoon in the centre of the batter and spread it outwards in a continuous spiral, pressing lightly, until you have a thin round or oval pancake about 8 inches in diameter. Drizzle a teaspoon of the ghee or olive oil over the surface and around the edges of the pancake.
Cook for 3-4 minutes until the edges of the pancake curl up and the bottom is golden to reddish-brown. Turn the pancake over and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Slip the pancake out of the pan on to a plate. Repeat the water sprinkling periodically to test the temperature of the pan and brush with a little more oil before adding each 1/3 cup of batter. Stack the pancakes as they come out, separating them with wax paper.
While the pancakes are cooking, steam the green beans for about 8 minutes, until just tender, and set aside. When the pancakes are finished, melt the butter over low heat in a large wok or frying pan until nutty brown. Stir in the dill and beans and cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the sauce, stir the yogurt, cilantro, tomato paste and spices into a bowl and mix well. Swirl in the sesame oil.
To serve, place a pancake on a serving plate glossy side up and spoon about 2/3 cup of the green beans on one half so that they spill out on the plate. Fold the pancake over and drizzle with tomato-cilantro sauce.
Makes about 10 8-inch pancakes.