Friday, January 8, 2016

Okra Multigrain Dosa

Of late the various exhibitions and haats at New Delhi  make it much easier to buy bags of  whole millets.  Recently, I made multigrain dosa batter  with  whole grain millets instead of using the ground powdered flours that chakkis make available.
By multigrain dosas, one is not referring to the teaspoon of  crushed grains that remain perched on the outer crust of brown coloured breads sold in stores. In multigrain dosas, what you get is a nutritionally viable apportioning of different grains. In fact, although white rice has far superior food value in comparison  to white flour or maida, it is possible to make delicious multigrain dosas and use very little rice or none at all, depending on the emotional quotient attached to rice.

Inspired  in all probability by Masterchef, I decided to choose a 'hero' (why  can't an ingredient be referred to as a heroine, I wonder) for the dosa and settled upon bhindi or okra, also known as ladies finger. The gender of  bhindi not withstanding, I fell back upon the old practice of getting maximum mileage out of the vegetable.
  Conventional cooking  tends to discard the heads of okra and sometimes the tails too. In fact, both parts are equally edible. I needed the  okra slit in two for the sambaar, so I divested about  six hundred grams of  okra of its heads. Around two hundred grams of slit okra suffices for sambaar that can be eaten heartily by four to five people. The rest of the okra, I saved for traditional bhindi poriyal, where the vegetable is tossed into a mustard seed and green chilli garnish, cooked completely , seasoned with salt and adorned with   two table spoons of  fresh coconut scrapings before serving.

 I ground the heads of the bhindi along with  one cup of white double urad, one cup of red rice, one cup of jaun (barley or pearl millet) and one cup of   mandua (ragi  or finger millet),  and one spoonful of methi seeds, all of which had been soaking for over two hours. This is ground to a fine consistency to get smooth batter. It also works if you soak the  rice, millets  and the lentils overnight.

Again, if  you have only one millet in grain form and the other millet  is in  powder form, do not hesitate to add a heaped cupful of  millet flour to the ground batter. In fact, it is also possible to grind only the urad daal  and add one  heaped cup each  of  different  flours or  three cups of  the same flour to the  lentil batter.
 Add salt, asafoetida and chopped curry leaves to the  ground batter and keep aside for  about an hour, especially if the grains have  not been soaked overnight. In fact while the batter is gathering itself up, it is a good idea to  get the vegetable, the sambaar and the chutney ready.

Apply a thin coating of oil to the griddle and allow it to warm up. Check to see if the griddle is ready by sprinkling  a fistful of water on  to the  hot griddle. When the water evaporates, pour out a ladle of batter and swirl it into a circular motion, keeping the ladle flat till you get a large  circle of batter spread out to  resemble the dosas you may have eaten. Allow it to cook, lower the heat and gently turn over.
This dosa tastes suggestively of okra, which provides vegetable nutrition, fibre and a gelatinous texture to  bind the batter together, making it easier to roll out dosas by the ladle.  Unless  severely dosa- challenged,   around twelve to fifteen multigrain dosas can be easily turned out on an ordinary iron griddle, with this quantity of batter.

Serve hot with  okra sambaar, coconut chutney and gunpowder, and if you are daring enough, add a serving of the okra vegetable. Wash this down with buttermilk if it is close to lunch time. Otherwise there is always hot filter coffee.