8 April 2007

Onion Rava Dosai with Spicy Tomato Chutney

Sunday BreakfastThinking about calories is taboo on weekends, so says me! After a extremely fulfilling Asian dinner** last night at our favourite Lemongrass Cafe - Bandra, we wanted to continue the good food times into Sunday morning. And what better way to let the good times roll than with super crisp dosais!

Dosais in a Tamil Brahmin household

As good Tambram kids, we have eaten an abundance of Idlis and Dosas well into our adult life. My granny would make the batter once a week in the large wet grinder machine that occupied place of pride in the balcony. (I hear it is used by a local Udipi restaurant to whom it was sold. Gran has moved on to the small table-top version) I remember that my grandpa has bought this in Saravana stores in Madras way back in 1984 and got it to Bombay. How does my memory go so far, you may wonder. But I tie this to the fact that he had bought me one of my favourite purple pavadai with a pink border in that same Madras trip, so it is not very difficult to remember :)

If the batter was ground on Day 1, tiffin on Day 2 and 3 would be Idlis, Day 4 and 5 would be Dosai. The logic of this being, a less fermented batter works better to give fluffy, tasty idlis and a more fermented batter could yield crispy, 'holey' dosais. If the batter still hung around on Day 5, Ammama would put a pinch of soda in the batter to reduce its sourness and make Ilippuchatti dosai, what you would know as the thicker set dosa. Ilippuchatti is nothing but the tradional iron wok. A ladle of batter would be poured into a well oiled wok, not spread, but covered and allowed to bubble and cook thoroughly. This one would be the size of the palm and about 4 times thicker than a regular dosai.

Tomato thuvaiyalOothapams were rarely made, because cutting all those vegetables for a tiffin-meal was quite a bore chore especially when my granny used to make two other proper meals a day. I learnt the dosai making technique early on, probably due to my inclination for the creative arts or for anything to do with my hands. When I was just 10 years old, I would love to serve hot off the skillet dosais to anyone who would care to eat them. Dosai is probably the first creative thing I did in the kitchen, if you don't count Maggi noodles ofcourse.

Rava dosai, Onion rava dosai, Neer dosai and the other variants were all discovered only when I was old enough to eat in Udupi restaurants. It was then I discovered there was a whole world of dosais other than the ones I had eaten at home. A Rava masala onion dosa soon became my favourite on the menu. Today, the page long Udupi dosai menus don't excite me anymore. I like the simple idlis with molagapodi or the simple not-so-crisp dosai made with gingelly oil and served with a simple coconut chutney with homemade batter, for that is the true, non-commercial, authentic version of dosai, after all.

Inspiration for the Rava Dosai

Just yesterday, I had chanced upon a delightful food blog, Delectable Victuals where Sheela chronicles her kitchen experiences. I have already bookmarked several recipes, especially the vegetarian Ethiopian menu to try out soon. But what caught my eye was the simple onion rava dosai which I had never made successfully. This morning, I was craving for a sumptous breakfast but was in no mood to go out searching for a GOOD Udupi restaurant (there are 2-3 very mediocre ones near our place, but the good ones are in Matunga) or to go to Crepe Station for eggs, waffles and pancakes.

The only good option at hand was to click on the bookmarked items, and get started on the Onion Rava Dosai. The mixture of Rava (semolina) , Maida and Rice flour seemed a perfect match for great consistency of batter. The only thing I found missing was any souring agents, which I compensated by adding sour buttermilk and a bit of baking soda.

Hot Onion Rava Dosa served with Sailu's Nuvvulu Podi* and Tomato chutney
*I omitted the garlic from Sailu's recipe

Onion Rava Dosai
Category - Breakfast, Tiffin, Tamil Brahmin cooking, Brunch
Time taken - Under an hour from preparation to making all the dosais
Makes about 10 dosais
Recipe source - Sheela of Delectable Victuals


1 cup rava, roasted till light golden (3-4 minutes on low flame)
1/2 cup maida or all purpose flour
1/2 cup rice flour
2 medium onions, very finely chopped
2 sprigs curry leaves
3 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup thick, sour buttermilk, leave it out overnight to sour it if necessary
Upto 2 cups water (to adjust the consistency)
For tempering: 1 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2 sprigs curry leaves

Oil to cook

Once the roasted rava cools, take all 3 flours in a large bowl. Add all other dry ingredients. Stir well.

Add in the sour buttermilk and add the water carefully to make a thin batter. This will be much thinner than the regular dosai batter.

Oil a non-stick tava / pan. Once hot enough, pour two ladlefuls of batter and hold the pan by its handle and rotate the pan so that batter evenly coats the surface of the pan. The coating must be thin and the buttermilk-baking soda combination will give a net-like appearance on the surface.

Drizzle a bit of cooking oil along the edges of the dosai. On a medium flame, the first side should take 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Carefully flip the dosai over to the other side, keep for a minute of so until it has turned golden brown and crisp and it is ready to eat. Serve hot with molagai podi, nuvvulu podi and tomato chutney.

Tomato Thuvaiyal / Spicy tomato chutney

1 tbsp gingelly oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 sprig curry leaves, 2 tbsp chana dal, 4 dried red chillies, few fenugreek seeds, pinch of asafoetida, 4 tomatoes -quartered, handful of coriander leaves, salt to taste

In moderately hot oil, splutter the mustard seeds. Add all remaining ingredients except tomatoes and coriander and fry till the dal turns golden brown. Put in the chopped tomatoes and saute for 5-7 minutes, until they soften, yet retain their shape.
Slide all the contents of the wok onto a plate and cool for 15 minutes. Once cooled, place the contents into a mixer along with coriander leaves and salt and grind to a smooth paste. Check for salt and adjust.

  • Goes very well with all varieties of idlis and dosas
  • Can be used on toast with cheese for a grilled tomato sandwich
  • Can also be eaten with plain steamed rice
This was my first attempt at onion rava dosai and the results were simply wonderful. DH kept asking for MORE!! I'm quite sure we have a strong contender for our weekend breakfasts here.

**Now that some food - Our grand dinner menu at the Lemongrass cafe
Starters - Black bean and cream of corn squares, Ginto, Tofu with bell pepper satay and Marinated water chestnuts satay
Soup - Vegetarian Noble House soup made with bamboo shoots, sprouts, mushrooms, ginger and yellow bell peppers
Main course - A bowl of Burmese Khowsuey - Thin delicate rice noodles floating in a Burmese peanut gravy with cauliflowers, carrots and beans served with toppings like coarsely chopped peanuts, scallions, coriander, burnt garlic pods, bean sprouts.
A bowl of Mongolian Stir fry (Peppers, mushrooms, red cabbage, sprouts, onions) with noodles

All this washed off with a glass of lemon grass flavoured iced tea.


Anjali said...

Hey I'm first here! Nandita I learnt Rava dosa from the MTR pack just looking at the ingredients. Rava, maida, jeera. I too use butter milk. The rice flour sounds good to include. The dosa is perfectly browned. Gopium will approve.

Nandita said...

Haha, aren't we smart, agar sab humare jaise karne lage toh bechara MTR will be outta business...BTW I learnt RAVA idli from the ingredients on MTR packet LOLLLL

Gopium, i was thinking about him while I wrote my side of the dosai story...just checked his blog, he hasnt updated ina while

Anita said...

That is so simple - instant gratification once more! All I need with my dosais and idlis is the gunpowder! And garlic or heeng in that is a strict no-no in our family.

Paddukoti said...

i love dosas nandita and noel as well, slowly he started enjoying indian food and so dosas and idlis everyweek at home.
i usually garnish with coconut pieces as well which gives a nice flavour to the dosas!!

Sandeepa said...

Loved the description Nandita and you made Dosa when you were 10. You are a Genius

Priya said...

Onion Rava dosai is my all time fav too...whenever we go to the one and only Udipi restaurant here, I definitely order this one. I use the same recipe but minus the baking soda. Amma would also add thinly sliced fresh coconut slices to the batter and a tiny drop of ghee on the dosai for the grand finale....yummyyyy

Sheela said...

Nandita, thanks for stopping by... my, my, you bring back memories - i lived in madras about 14 years ago, way before they changed my city's name on me! My dad used to call oothappam as "dosai's grandma" - as the dosai batter ages before taking the oothappam form :) of course, i used to argue that it is dosai's granchild, as it came later chronologically! your post on dosai brought back memories. nice work! like your blog...

DesiGirl said...

well, we had idlies on day 1, dosa on day 2, oothappam on day 3 and kuzhi vellai aapam on day 4. sigh
with the dessicated coconut, i get crappy chutney and that takes away the whole josh of a good dosai.

Sig said...

Darling, I loved your post, as usual a great read... You made dosa's when you were 10? :( I still can't make a thin dosa without breaking it, Siv is dosa expert at home. My mom only used to make the thick oothappams, so I blame her for not teaching me. :)

Lemongrass cafe sounds great, menu reads just like the restaurants here, I'm so happy we have all these international cuisine available in India now... You should start carrying your camera with you when you go out to eat, it is really embarrassing, everyone will stare at you like you are mad photographing everything you eat :), need real thick skin, but it's fun :).

junoesque said...

i want a recipe for low cal coconut chutney pls pls pls nandita...


Anjali said...

Nandita technoratti got me here...Thanks for the inclusion.
Awaiting more surprises ;)...Thurs pucca

Latha said...

Hey Nandita,
I love your posts! The story about your grandma, her grinder and your pavadai made me laugh! I envy you the best of both the worlds! Mumbai being so cosmopolitan and your access to everything.. Indian and International!
Onion Rava Dosai is our favorite too. I follow your grandma's policy.. old batter always gets used up as set dosai or onion rava dosai.. to old batter i just add rava, a little maida, some soda, buttermilk ...your tomato thogayal sounds delicious!
And the menu at lemongrass .. its been ages since i ate soemthing that good! Like i said "I envy you" :-)

musical said...

Levely write up, Nandita. I love Rave idlis and rave dosai-because they are so quick to make! and i heart the set dosai: that used to be my all time favorite lunch in Bangalore :)

That tomato thuvaiyal looks good: very inviting.

Sharmi said...

your recipes make me think a lot on how my grandmother used to cook and also makes me think on posting some traditional recipes. I am now working on it. you have inspired me to do it. thanks for the lovely recipes!!


marriedtoadesi.com said...


Idly and Dosai is a staple in my house. And onion rava masala is everyone's favourite. But they have never turned out so good at home as your pics look!

Seema said...

Nandita, you must be brave to try your hand on dosas at that young age. This was the last thing that i tried my hands on. Once you get the trick then its easy. I still havn't got the trick for smearing or splashing the rava dosa batter to make it that thin and crisp. Your dosa looks looks devine lady.

Reena said...

Nandita, More than the recipes I loved reading about your gran and dosakallu on muttai madi:). Your posts always make an interesting read. You made dosa when you were 10!!!!! wow!

Mallugirl said...

best explanation of the idli -dosa dilemna. since i don't make them too often,i always forget which one to make first.thanks a lot for the tomato chutney too.

Celia said...

This blog is fantastic, is very interesting, I like the colors, are awesome. Keep it and show us more!!!! Do you wanto to see something more? Look... Glass Bongs and Bong featuring Herbal Smoke, water bongs, bongs online head shop, Marijuana Alternative,glass water bongs, Hashish, Ganja, homemade bongs, Smokeshop, cannibis, legal smoking alternatives for herbal highs and aphrodisia. http://www.headshopinternational.com

Anonymous said...

This is pretty interesting information that you are telling here. I have also found some usefull information on this website. Also, huge info about calories, calorie counters, different types of diets, diet food, fitness and weight loss. Please visit, really usefull information!

Prajakta said...


Your blog is always so informative!

And thanks for a great breakfast idea, which was successfully implemented last weekend. Turned out very nice. My dosais were not very crisp though, any tips on that?
The chutney is too good!
The combo went very well together, and as you have mentioned in your post, my hubby too was asking for more :)!

Prats said...

such fun, this idli batter...
Read your blog while being transported into cooking blogs....
The ildi, on the first 2 days, dosas the next 2 ...was so true to form....and then I make ( on those nobody to eat at home days, when batter gets extended) gulpanganal ( what we kannadigas call it , and tamilians, I think call it kuzhi puttu) and then it was baby dosas for the lunch boxes for kids...nice read here..

Ranjani said...

It is indeed delicious to be tam bram:)

Pravin said...

nice one. check out my recipe...

Anonymous said...

tasty stuff indeed..south india is the heartland of tasty food...

momsnetwork said...

Rava dosas are my fav south indian food.....yours looks so neat and inviting...simply love it

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...