Tuesday, February 09, 2010

February 2, 2010: Masala dosai and cheaters' chickpea curry

Our eventually-successful pie and some broccoli burgers had us pretty well sorted for workday lunches last week. This freed us up to be a little more creative for dinner and I pulled a couple of packets out of the pantry...

I love masala dosai, though I don't eat them often. This packet powder requires only water, a stir and a brief rest before you can get frying. I'm a little clumsy when it comes to fry-and-flip items like pancakes and burgers, and these dosai were no exception. Even though the batter was thick, there were breakages every time. On the second night that we made this meal I doubled the quantity of water, hoping for a thinner, crispier dosa like the ones I've eaten out. There were inevitably even more breakages. My technique needs a lot of improvement but these nevertheless tasted great and I won't hesitate to buy this again and practise, practise, practise.

I improvised my own potato stuffing, basing it on Lucy's Indian spiced potatoes. I added a finely chopped onion in to fry at the start and finished them off with a splash of tamarind concentrate. They were marvellous.

The Curry Tree spice mix was even easier to prep. The vacuum-sealed spice mix goes into a saucepan with a can of drained chickpeas and some water; simmer for 10 minutes and it's ready. Naturally it's not as complex and tasty as a homemade chickpea curry but it is rather good, easily the best 'instant' product I can remember buying. The ingredients list consists entirely of foods I recognise, from onion and sunflower oil through to mango powder and turmeric. No three digit numbers to be seen! This, I like.

Though our meal was riddled with ghee, this could easily be replaced with vegetable oil. Both packets are free of animal products so they get a vegan-friendly tag from me.


  1. Wow this looks like a delicious meal and I am also very excited it is Gluten Free. I will definitely be trying some dosas, anywhere in particular you recommend buying them?


  2. Ha!! I sometimes at this from the Indian grocer in Footscray too....tastes really good though ;)

  3. Mmmmmmmmm masala dosai... I love it. Spice Kitchen on Lonsdale St does a VERY nice one for a tiny amount of money (like, $6 or something), although the amount of potato in the middle seems to get less and less each time I go... even so, it's delicious. Will have to find the dosa mix and try it at home... maybe on the BBQ so I can use the big plate.

  4. Emily, I am pretty sure (but not 100% certain) that this is gluten free - the dosa mix appears to be made from lentils and rice. Dosa mixes like this are at Indian grocers everywhere, and sometimes in other Asian supermarkets.

    Hi Penny! Do you have better luck frying thin, intact ones than I do? :-P

    Anna, the barbecue plate's a great idea! (Though I know I still probably couldn't flip it...) Thanks for the tip on Spice Kitchen. :-)

  5. If you go up to MKS Spices in Dandenong, they have tubs of "fresh" dosa batter--the tubs look like large yoghurt tubs. Haven't tried them yet, but they'll do you better than a dosa mix. Also, if you are buying dosa mix, buy ones with the MTR brand.

    And in answer to a previous comment, dosas are always made with rice and lentils, no wheat whatsoever. Having said that, I'm never sure what these dosa *mixes* have, so I'd check the label just in case.

    -your south Indian reader de-lurking :)

  6. Hi, glad you de-lurked!

    The extra ingredients in this mix are salt, sodium bicarbonate, malic acid and fenugreek powder - I don't think any of these are gluten issues though I'm happy to be corrected.

    Thanks for the tip on MKS Spices - Michael and I have recently been talking about making a daytrip to Dandenong to feast on Indian food. (Any special recommendations?) We'll check this place out for supplies when we get there.

  7. (Posting with my proper ID this time..)
    Hi Cindy,
    Sorry, I have no reccomendations for Indian in Dandenong.

    But I do have a list of the best places in town for dosa. :)

    1. Madras Banyan Tree (Hampton East). I don't care much for their other food but their dosas are perfection and worth travelling for. Pricier than your usual Indian restaurant.

    2. Flora (Flinders St). For some reason, Flora is always overlooked by non-Indians, but I quite like it for a quick bite, and the dosas are quite good too. Better than Nila, which has always disappointed me.

    3. My Restaurant (High Street, Prahran). I sometimes hesitate to recommend this because it has zero atmosphere and can be a bit inconsistent. However, when it's good, it's pretty good, and we go there very often. Again, I'd go here over Nila.

  8. Awesome, thanks Suchi! I've eaten dosas at Flora and like them a lot (... though it's been a while). I'll look forward to chasing these other ones down. :-)