I would have been around 12 years of age when my first real spark of interest in cooking ignited. I don’t remember precisely which grade I was studying in then, but I do remember the particular day when it happened very, very clearly.
We were living in Ahmedabad then – Amma, Appa, me, and my paternal grandparents. I was a studious girl, hugely focused on getting good grades and making a good career for myself. A good career = a good life, to the 12-year-old me. I was never required to cook or even help out around the house. I lived a highly protected life, which some would call privileged. We weren’t uber rich or anything – we were just an ordinary, middle-class family – but I had the freedom to spend my days as I chose, not having to be encumbered by things like grocery shopping, paying electricity bills, taking care of the elderly or cooking. That said, I would help out Amma and my grandmother in the kitchen sometimes of my own free will, small tasks like shelling peas, chopping vegetables, rolling out rotis or making glasses of lemon juice on hot summer days. Never had I cooked a meal entirely on my own, though, till then.
Then, one fine day, my young self found herself face-to-face with temptation. There was no one at home that day; I was alone. Amma had gone out with Appa, to attend to some urgent errands. The grandparents were off to a religious discourse, I think. The dosa batter was thawing on the kitchen counter, and a batch of potatoes had been boiled and were cooling, ready for Amma to get back home and make piping hot Masala Dosas for everyone. I saw this and felt – Why not? Why can’t I make that Masala Dosa myself? Why can’t I give Amma a surprise when she gets back? And that is just what I did. I got busy in the kitchen, wishing fervently that the doorbell wouldn’t ring before I was done with my job. It didn’t.
Making Masala Dosa isn’t a big deal for me today, but back then, it was. It was a huge thing, an achievement! There was no Google at our place then, to turn to for ideas or queries, so I had only myself to rely on. Beginner’s luck or whatever, the potato filling turned out finger-lickingly delicious. I was in the kitchen all of that evening, making Masala Dosas for everyone, in the midst of which I realised that I was quite enjoying myself. I invited a couple of friends over too, to relish my beginner Masala Dosas. Much praising and patting of the back ensued, along with quips like ‘Beti badi go gayi hai!’ (‘The little girl has grown up.’)
This incident set me off. I began suggesting to Amma to mix this flavour and that, to cook this vegetable that way, to make this dish that way. Soon, I was making little dishes on my own in the kitchen. I think the Masala Dosa incident was the catalyst that made me the huge foodie I am today. Here I am today, not in a proper ‘career’ per se, but doing something around food, and loving every bit of it!
The Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of has ‘#MyBeginnerRecipe’ as the theme this week, wherein we are required to share the recipe for the very first dish we cooked on our own. This has got all of us delving deep into our foodie memories, with more than one skeleton tumbling out of the closet. 🙂 This here is my skeleton, my beginner foodie memory, my tale.
Let’s now hop over to the Masala Dosa recipe, shall we? This is how I made the Masala Dosa when I was 12, and this is how I still make it.
Ingredients (makes about 10 masala dosas):
For the filling:
- 6-7 medium-sized potatoes
- 1 big onion
- 3-4 green chillies
- A 1-inch piece of ginger
- About 1/4 cup shelled green peas
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 generous pinches of asafoetida
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
- About 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander
- Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
For the dosas:
- About 10 ladles of dosa batter
- Oil, as needed to make the dosas
We will first get the filling for the Masala Dosas ready.
- Wash the potatoes thoroughly, and cut each one into half. Transfer to a wide vessel and add in just enough water to cover the potato halves. Pressure cook on high flame for 4 whistles. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
- Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.
- Chop the onion finely. Keep aside.
- Peel the ginger and grate finely. Keep aside.
- When the pressure in the cooker has come down entirely, get the potatoes out and discard the water they were cooked in. Add in some fresh, cold water and allow them to cool down a bit.
- When the cooked potatoes are cool enough to handle, discard the water they were cooling in. Peel the potatoes and mash them. Keep aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to pop. Add in the asafoetida and let it stay in for a couple of minutes.
- Add the chopped onion, grated ginger, slit green chillies and shelled green peas to the pan. Cook on medium heat till the peas begin to shrivel and the onion begins to turn brown. Stir intermittently to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the mashed potatoes to the pan, along with salt to taste, red chilli powder (if using) and turmeric powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes, or till everything is well integrated together. You may add a little water at this stage, if you feel the potato filling is too dry. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
- Switch off gas. Mix in the finely chopped coriander and lemon juice. Your potato filling is ready to use in the Masala Dosas! Keep aside.
Now, we will make the Masala Dosas.
- Place a heavy dosa pan on high flame, and allow it to get nice and hot.
- When the pan is hot enough, turn the flame down to medium. Place a ladleful of dosa batter in the centre of the pan. Spread it out quickly, using the back of the ladle. Spread some oil evenly all around the dosa.
- Let the dosa cook on medium flame till it turns brown on the bottom.
- Now, flip the dosa over to the other side using a spatula. Let it cook on the other side as well.
- Transfer the cooked dosa to a serving plate. Place a little of the potato filling in the centre of the dosa and close it. Serve hot, with sambar and/or chutney.
- Prepare all the Masala Dosas in a similar manner.
1. You can even add finely chopped/grated carrots to the potato filling. I usually don’t.
2. Using the red chilli powder is purely optional. If you think the heat from the green chillies is enough, you can skip the red chilli powder entirely.
3. A dash of sugar can be added to the filling, for enhanced flavour. I sometimes add it in, I don’t at other times.
4. We like the dash of lemon juice in our Masala Dosa filling, and so, I add it in. You can skip it, as well.
5. You may use butter instead of oil, to make the dosas.
6. Some people add curry leaves to the potato filling. We don’t. You may, if you want to.
7. When you are entertaining, you can make the potato filling in advance and keep it ready. When your guests arrive, you need to heat up the filling, prepare the dosas, add in the stuffing and serve!
8. Here is the recipe for a Basic Coconut Chutney you can serve with these Masala Dosas.
9. Head here to learn how to use the potato filling to make Bangalore’s famous Open Butter Masala Dosa.
10. Have some potato filling left over? Here are some lovely ways to re-purpose it!
Did you like this Masala Dosa recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!
This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is ‘#MyBeginnerRecipe’.