The Vegan Friendly Masala Dosa Making Class with The Naan-Americans Home Kitchen

Dosa is a popular Indian breakfast dish. Indigenous to the southern part of India, this crispy rice and lentil crepe has now gained popularity and is widespread across the world.

 The dosa and its manifestations can now be seen in many Indian restaurants across the globe as well as food trucks and street food festivals in popular cities like New York, London, Boston and more.

 The classic representation of a Masala dosa would be the large perfect round shaped crepe, crisp and golden in the bottom and a white soft mesh-like texture on the top. This now is generously smeared with the red garlic chutney and filled with the classic Onion-Potato filling and served with either sambar or coconut chutney or both on the side.

 Despite its popularity and it’s ubiquitous nature, the Dosa making is still an art. One needs to know the tips and tricks to get that perfectly thin, round, golden, soft, crispy dosa. As easy as it may seem, the spicy potato filling needs some tweaks and tricks, love and care,  to make it juicy and delicious and not dry and bland.

The cooking classes and culinary events with The Naan-Americans will help you with just that. Our goal is to show and teach our guests the small nuances, the tips and tricks, the hidden idea behind a recipe so that our guests can go back home and recreate the dish with confidence and ease.

 

 

Our latest Masala dosa making class was one such beautiful experience. Our guest Erica is a lover of Indian food. She frequently dines at Indian restaurants and has even tried to cook some Indian dishes at home. She mentions that she probably has the largest Indian spice collection in her kitchen. Her only concern would be that since she is Vegan she always needs to make sure the restaurants don’t serve her dishes that are cream based or even throw in a dollop of butter on top of her Rotis or Naan.

This was her first Masala dosa making class. She was excited because everything in here was Vegan. There was no room for error. The class met all her requirements. No dairy, No meat. Just perfect. She had a vegetarian host-instructor for the night who is from the Southern part of India and knows the in and out of Dosa making.

And what a beautiful evening it was. Our guest was super excited to attend this class while getting a chance to free herself a bit and get that Me-time, that we all sometimes crave for.

She was ready to get her hands on the Dosa making starting with the potato filling. The instructor had few things prepped ahead of time and had displayed the whole ingredients needed for their cooking party this night. Soon enough the spicy potato mixture was cooking in the Kadai, the aroma of the sweet onions filling the tiny kitchen. The guest was proud and happy to learn this new dish which was good just by itself.

Methi Thepla

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Methi or Fenugreek is often considered as a superfood in India. It is believed to have cooling properties. It is very therapeutic. Breastfeeding moms are often seen consuming fenugreek seeds in quite high amounts, as it is believed to increase milk supply. I have tried it too , and I must say it works!

Because of its cooling properties fenugreek powder is added in spicy pickles  to compensate all that heat from the chilli powder. I remember my grandmother using fenugreek to help her digestion. Just before bedtime she used to make herself a glass of cold buttermilk with little salt and  adding some freshly powdered fenugreek seeds.

I just so love methi too. It is so fragrant and therapeutic. Be it the seeds or the leaves, I love to use them quite often. The leaves are very tender and fragrant and hardly bitter . The seeds carry a nutty and  quite bitter taste but the bitterness subdues when we dry roast them . And that aroma!!! ….

I always wish that methi was available in American supermarkets. Unfortunately it is not and I always have to visit the Indian store to grab a bunch or two and always will have to make a choice of what to make out of Methi. Those are hard choices to make, as anything made out of Methi  leaves is absolutely delicious.

There is a whole array of dishes both South and North Indian that uses fresh Methi leaves in its cooking. Parathas, rotis, gravies,curries, fritters, dals you name it!

This time I chose to make Theplas out of Methi. Theplas are similar to rotis or parathas. They have all spices incorporated in them and typically needs no side dish to go with it. They can be enjoyed as a snack, brunch, lunch or dinner. Kids Love them too. Just pay attention to the spice levels when making for kids. It makes a great lunch box recipe too.

The process is quite simple and here is how to make theplas out of these ever green Methi:

What we need:

2 cups of whole wheat flour

2 tbsp gram/chickpea flour

1 cup of finely chopped fresh methi leaves

2 green chillies

1 tsp cumin/coriander powder( optional)

1tsp turmeric

salt

Method:

Combine all ingredients together.

With little sprinkles of water, knead into a soft dough.

Divide into equal sized balls

roll them into round rotis

On a hot griddle roast them by sprinkles of oil.

Serve warm or not so warm with yogurt.

 

 

Spicy and Lemony Cucumber Corn Kosambari

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I have never eaten so much corn in my life as much as I have since I came to the US.

The all famous American sweet corn is quite sweet indeed. And that makes you just want to eat more of it, almost like candy.

The tender, juicy and sweet corn is a great accompaniment in the form of salad or  our desi version called Kosambari.

Kosambari is a South Indian version of salad. Typically, it involves some soaked lentils like Moong dal or Chana dal mixed with fresh raw vegetables like grated  carrots or crunchy cucumbers. The tempering involves a typical south indian tempering with mustard seeds, Asafoetida and green chillies. Finally it is topped of with fresh grated coconut and finely chopped cilantro. A generous amount of fresh lemon juice is a must .

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Kosambari is a very important part of a festive spread. Hence, in special occasions and festivals, Kosambari is served in the very beginning of the meal.

During the Diwali festival this month, I decided to make this Cucumber-corn Kosambari as a part of my traditional meal.

In my version I have avoided the lentils as well as the coconut. But tastes great!!!!

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What we need:

1 cup of fresh corn,scraped out from the cob

1 cup of finely chopped cucumber ( skin peeled)

5 green chillies finely minced

2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

1/2 a lemon, juice squeezed

1tsp mustard seeds

hing or asafoetida

2 tbsp oil

Method:

In a wide bowl, mix corn and cucumber. Sprinkle some salt. add in the cilantro. squeeze the lemon.

Next is the tempering. Heat 2 tbsp of oil, add the mustard seeds and Hing. when the seeds splutter, add the green chillies. saute the green chillies until it wilts . Then add this tempering to the salad.

MIx everything well and serve chilled or as it is.

Red Chilli Garlic Powder seasoned Penne Pasta with Roasted vegetables

Pasta has become a staple in our kitchen from the past few years. In a given week, I sometimes would have cooked more pasta than rice. Reason being it is simple, wholesome, one pot meal.

It is amazing to see how we acquire new tastes over a period of time. For me,  pasta and its sauce is an acquired taste. Also American coffee, salad dressings, olive oil, mayonnaise, Mustard, garlic and many such more.

For a red chilli powder eating South Indian,  pasta with just  tomato sauce is very bland and tasteless. But over a period of time my poor palate have compromised with the taste, better yet, started  liking it.

But I must admit, my taste buds do have some limitations in adaptations. I still cannot eat pasta with Pesto or Alfredo sauce. That is some leap which I have not taken. I have tried to like pesto, but it is something about the nuts and cheese which makes the sauce too dense, which does not please me. .But, that is just me. May be someday I will be going All Pesto! On the other hand, I love pasta with no sauce. The one that is just tossed in some olive oil and garlic. The one that we can find in Cheese cake factory called ,Evelyn’s favorite pasta 🙂

 This time I was at it again. Cooking pasta in the kitchen. I boiled the penne until Aldente, sautéed some vegetables and was just about to pour in some pasta sauce. I would have stirred in all the things together, sprinkled some salt , poured in some generous amounts of pepper powder and red chilli flakes and would have just enjoyed it that way, like any other pasta night. But, not tonight. Tonight the South Indian in me came alive. It said, NO NOT AGAIN! not that same under-salted, no spice tomato sauce again. come on!

For a minute I froze. I had to think. I had to think quick about what should go in to that pan before those veggies started to burn. I had to make up my mind between sauce and no sauce.

A minute later, I knew what I wanted. I had made up my mind. No sauce. I turned to the freezer and pulled out the small packet that was tightly tucked behind the frozen coconut all the way at the back.

And there it was. A small packet rolled and tightly fastened with a rubber  band. a packet of dry red garlic chutney powder. A soulful condiment for a South Indian. I took a second to take a whiff of it directly from the packet and the next second I was dreaming of a spicy masala dosa.

I took a tablespoon full of the red powder and sprinkled it all over my roasted vegetables in the pan. Gave it a nice stir. Finally I added my long waiting pasta in to the pan. Mixed it thoroughly. Minutes later my whole kitchen was filled with aromatics. I decided to toss in some curry leaves too. Very South Indian now!

And there it was, my no sauce, very South Indian Penne Pasta.

What we need:

1 cup of penne pasta cooked al dente

2 tbsp oil

1 cup of Japanese eggplant cut into cubes

1 cup of cauliflower florets

1 cup of red onions sliced length wise

1 tbsp of red chilli garlic chutney powder(available in Indian stores)

1 sprig of curry leaves

salt as per taste

Method:

In a pan heat the oil. once hot ,add onions and fry them on medium heat very slowly until it caramelizes and the sweet flavor pop out.

Next add the eggplant and fry until the eggplants cook  very soft.

Add cauliflower and fry along with the onions and eggplant until it is cooked yet firm.

sprinkle some water to add moisture and speed up the cooking process.

Next add the curry leaves and red chilli garlic powder and stir well so that the powder coats all the vegetables

add salt.

Finally add the cooked penne pasta and stir well altogether.

serve warm

Notes:

You can substitute any other vegetable too. But the above combination of veggies were just perfect.

Vary the amount of red garlic powder according to your spice level

If after adding pasta, the dish looks dry, just drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It gives a great flavor while making the whole dish nice and shiny.