And here it is ... the vegan, Indian food. Wait. No. Not vegan. Not Indian. Not made by me. That's the pizza back-up meal for Small Girl and Husband, who has been making faces all month every time I mention that the Daring Cooks challenge for September was an Indian recipe. Husband is not fond of Indian food. One big reason is the texture; he has a strong dislike for anything mushy. He also doesn't like cumin which can play a big role in the spice mixtures of some Indian dishes. So all the lovely Indian vegetarian things that I love (mattar paneer, saag paneer, aloo gobi, etc.) are just not Husband's cup of tea. So I bought a take-and-bake pizza for him. Small Girl was a mystery to me in terms of liking the dosa and as it happens, she ate as much dosa pancake and tofu as she did pizza. We'll get to Husband's reaction later.
But first: Thanks go to Debyi from The Healthy Vegan Kitchen for choosing the dosa recipe for this month's challenge. She challenged us all to make Indian Dosas from the refresh cookbook by Ruth Tal. Part of the challenge was to make all three elements of the dish (pancakes, sauce, filling) vegan. Here's what it really looks like (not pizza):
And here's how I got to that plated product: As mentioned above, there are three elements to the dish. We had some leeway on the filling and I knew that Husband was not even going to try a mashed chickpea filling, so I changed that. The first element is a coconut curry sauce and I also changed that a bit, hoping that a very mild sauce might be approved by Small Girl. It was an experimental sort of sauce and it taught me a few things.
This is what I learned: If you're using powdered coconut milk, you should probably NOT reconstitute it in a blender to make sure there are no lumps. No. You should probably stir it into warm water on the stove -- as the pictograph instructions on the otherwise-all-in-Thai packaging shows -- or you will end up with froth. Froth that after simmering for an hour with onion, garlic, and ginger is still froth. I also learned that no matter how many times I tasted the sauce, if you don't add Thai red chile paste to it (because you're not cooking Thai food), it will never taste like a Thai red curry sauce. Sigh. In the end, the sauce just didn't do it for me on its own. It did add something nice to the finished dish, though, so all my stirring and adding of this and that and the other did pay off in the end.
I agonized over my filling for pretty much the whole month (did I already mention that I'm writing this an hour after eating it and this post has to be revealed first thing tomorrow morning?). I knew it couldn't be mushy. I wanted it to be flavorful without needing a lot of spice-as-in-heat (or curry) so that the other members of my family might eat it. I finally decided on a potato and tofu filling very reminiscent of the potato-based filling often found in samosas. Lots of onion and garlic and a great big handful of cilantro added at the end made for a very tasty filling.
Next up, the dosa themselves. Dosa are pancakes made with a wide variety of different flours or mashed lentils. I used half wheat flour and half chickpea flour. The batter came together very, very easily. The cooking was not quite as struggle-free. You know how the first crepe is for the chef? Or the dog, depending on whether you have a dog and how bad your day is going? Well, the first dosa came out quite well. The next three were for someone or something other than tonight's diners. Just a mess, mess, mess! I finally added some extra water and got into the groove of things.
My sauce just was not pretty, so I decided to plate that on the bottom instead of the top and started rolling dosas around the filling as they came out of the pan. Between the three burners I had going and the oven blasting to cook the pizza, the stove top was plenty hot to keep everything warm as I worked.
When I had four rolled (it seemed like plenty, given that I was the only guaranteed consumer), I topped them off with some of the extra filling and some cilantro. After they posed for their pictures, it was time to eat! I loved them. The pancakes were tasty thanks to the curry powder and chickpea flour. The filling was delicious, because how could it not be with all that cilantro?? And the sauce ended up providing just the right amount of extra moisture, salt, and fat needed to make the completed dish a success. I never get to go to Indian restaurants, so it was a real treat to have an Indian meal -- thanks, Debyi!
And Husband? He took half a filled dosa. To try. And then ate the other half. And then asked if he could take the uneaten one to work for lunch tomorrow with some of the extra filling. Apparently, his new take on Indian food is that IF I make it AND he knows what's in it AND it's not mushy AND he knows how it was made? He just might like it.