“But, pleeeez, can I have a headman’s hut?” asks my daughter. No, it’s not a resort and we are not looking at cute cottages…
What we are looking at is a plateful of small, hut shaped dosas! Kanch has just waited for me to make a whole village of little dosas shaped like huts before weaving a story around them about a headman and his wife and his honchos and his kids before she begins to nibble at the huts. My exhortations to please eat before the dosas are stone cold make no dent in her consciousness – the story of the headman, his family’s little huts, their cannibalistic tendencies, the firepot in the centre (a mound of chutney that she builds up into a volcano) is just too fascinating! And just as the hapless explorer (her Akka – big sister) is about to be put into the pot on the fire, along comes our heroine (K, of course!!) – rushing out of the littlest hut where she’s been hiding – to vanquish the would-be assassins!
And so on to a LARGE hut shaped dosa again – the headman’s hut before she begins to eat!
Alphabet dosas spelling out their whole names were also much loved but the conical, “hut-shaped” dosas were and still are favourites! A teacher friend of mine told me about a child in her class who, when given an assignment to draw his house, drew a tall, rectangular structure with little squares of windows in them! She said this was the first time that she’d seen anyone drawing anything other than a “hut” – the wigwam shaped structure that we all grew up drawing as the simplest shape of a house! So my friend draws the hut and asks the kid whether he recognises it. He stares at it for a while before guessing, “upside-down funnel?” He’d never in his life – and this in India – seen a house like a cone! Am sure that Kanch would have asnwered that it was a dosa!
So here’s to the hut dosa!
- Urad dal – 1 cup
- Parboiled rice – 2.5 cups
- Raw rice – 1/2 cup
- Methi – fenugreek – seeds – 1 tsp
- Sesame oil – 1/2 teaspoon for each dosa
- Ghee – a couple of teaspoons
Soak the raw rice and parboiled rice together with the methi seeds. Soak the urad dal separately. Both overnight or for four hours.Drain and grind separately into a smooth but very slightly gritty batter adding water to make it a thick pouring consistency. Mix both batters together in a large vessel and let ferment for at least 6 hours in a warm place. Overnight is good. The batter will almost double. Whip well adding the salt. Or just buy the batter!
Now comes the part that calls for the serious skills! Heat a nonstick pan (preferable). Pour 2-3 drops of oil on top and sprinkle a few drops of water on top – the dosa master (my husband) throws the water with a flourish so it can splatter the wall behind – but it does sizzle amazingly! On high heat, pour one ladleful of batter in the centre of the pan and spread it with the bottom of the ladle into a thin pancake. Immediately lower the flame and pour a few drops of oil around the edge of the dosa and a couple of drops of ghee in the centre. Cook uncovered for about a minute till it turns golden brown on the underside – peek to see. Flip over and turn up the flame. The dosa cooks in a few seconds on the second side. Flip off the pan and serve with chutney/ chutney podi/ sambar/ cannibal’s blood!!
If you want a “hut” dosa, as soon as you pour the batter and spread it, cut a radius in the batter with the edge of your ladle. Cook as normal. Don’t flip over. Pick up the cut edge and roll on the pan into a cone. Let the cone sit open edge down for 3 or 4 seconds to get completely done. Carefully slide on to a plate. Build your village!