I promised, if I got requests, to give a recipe for dosa. And I did get requests. So, it’s a deal. Here goes. It is, after all, around food that we often come together. And in Mauritius, cooking is a highly developed art, the poorer people are the more highly developed the art, and people express caring, even love, through food. All the more reason that we need a kind of politics that is centered around what we need: food and caring.
And since we can’t come together physically because of the epidemic, let’s do the sharing today over a recipe.
It’s not very common in Mauritian cooking, but it is very easy, though it takes a couple of days to prepare. And it is quite a challenge to explain. (I am not resorting to YouTube to show you. You have to decode the words. That’s the fun of this recipe today during lockdown.)
Take one part (say 80 gm.) dal urid (some people call it dal urit), which is the little, pale dal.
Take two-parts (say 160 gm.) ordinary ration rice.
Put them in a bowl of water to soak with the water covering them by, say, a couple of centimetres. Cover the bowl with a plate. Leave the rice and dal urid on a table for, say 4-6 hours. It’s not crucial. So, I usually think of dosa for the next day, and put the ingredients to soak at about 4:00 pm. I forget about it until after supper.
Then at 8:30 or 9:00 when I’m about to go to bed, I see it on the table and organize it for the night. First I pour off the excess water, leaving just enough so that when I put it in the blender, it won’t stick to the sides. (A tip: It’s easier to add water afterwards than remove it afterwards.) Blend it until it’s a gorgeous cream, with very fine sandy feeling between your fingers and thumb if you rub a bit.
Put the creamy mixture back into the bowl, and again cover. Leave overnight on a table or shelf. Forget about it.
The next day, again time is not crucial, when you wake up, there it is. It is ready to use for breakfast. Or, you can put it in the fridge, if it’s a hot day, and you only want to eat it later – for lunch or supper. (The mixture lasts at least five days in the fridge.)
You then take out, say, half the mixture, that will make around 5 smallish dosa, and keep the rest in the fridge for another day.
You add a little bit of water to the mixture, and stir, and continue adding water a bit at a time, until it’s like running cream (not solid or liquid but exactly like running cream).
Add a half-little-teaspoon of salt.
You are now ready to cook the dosa on the heated griddle iron (tawa), or on a thickish non-stick saucepan (pwalon).
Keep a little bit of cooking oil in a little bowl with a teaspoon in it next to you, for later.
Take a ladle (one of those kalchul that people used to chonko spices for dal, and that you serve dal with), and ladle out a half-ladleful on to the hot pan (no oil yet). Then as the creamy mixture begins to stick, you immediately, with the back of the kalchul – this is the fancy bit, a bit like a dance -- you make concentric circles starting from the centre, round and round to the edges, bigger and bigger circles, spreading the mixture out until the ends are like spinning off in bands, with lace-holes.
Then wait about a minute or so, as the dosa cooks and begins to go light brown at its outer, lace-like edges. Then you drop tiny droplets of oil around the outside of the dosa, pick up the pan and wobble it so that the oil goes all around the edges, then put it down to cook for another 30 seconds or so. The colour changes to less opaque, so you know it’s good, and the edges go gorgeous brown, and then with a spatula, you turn it over, to cook for 30 seconds on the other side. Then you take it off, and roll it. You can roll it around its filling straight away, or later at the table. But rolling it as you take it off the pan makes it stay crispy at the edges.
For the filling: Dosa can be served with the satini pomdeter and methi shoots like we did in the blog. Or with satini koko. Or anything like mincemeat, kalya, zasar legim, scrambled egg, a bit of rogay. Or anything you like.
So, what you need as ingredients is:
- One part dal urid.
- Two parts ration rice.
- A bit of salt, for when you cook.
- A bit of oil, for when you cook.
Utensils that need to be at hand:
- A bowl and something to cover it.
- A tawa or pwalon.
- A ladle (or chonko kalchul)
- A teaspoon for the oil
- A spatula or one of those things for flipping roti over on the tawa.
- A plate to serve the dosa on.
You can get friends to make dosa in parallel, and each make film clips to share – so that you almost come together for a meal. Or you can just take some photos and share them.
(Afterwards, you can go and check out -- lots of people show how to do it on YouTube.)
(for LALIT’s media – a very personal note today.)
PS. Release of Prisoners
It is very good news that 423 prisoners have been released, following a decision by the Commission on Mercy. There are conditions: released prisoners must respect the lockdown, not be involved in any infraction of the law. Those released were not in jail for violent offences.
Just to remind readers: Here is LALIT’s demand of 23 March 2020:
“The demand of the prison mutiny four days ago, in these times of the epidemic, was, according to the prison director himself, clear: that remand prisoners and prisoners who can’t afford their fines be released during the epidemic. Could there be a more reasonable demand? People who have been in total lock-down (in prison) when they should not have been in prison anyway? They are locked up because they are poor. That’s why. Even the Prison Commissioner seems to think the demand reasonable. In LALIT, we say the Authorities must respond and release all the prisoners who are locked up because they are poor. They are half the prison population. They can be quarantined, like everyone else “coming into” society from the outside, and then allowed home. Their release will obviously make prison conditions better, at least more spacious, for those left inside.”