However, there was a silver lining to this gastronomic cultural shock. And that was the availability of the South Indian tiffin centers that sold Idli/Dosa/Upma during most times of the day. So, if on a particular day we felt nauseated by looking at the hostel menu, we ended up eating a masala dosa for lunch/dinner. It was during one such visit to a joint that I ordered the MLA dosa on a whim. The name had piqued my curiosity but the grandiose imagery that I had conjured up in my mind disappeared the moment it arrived at the table. I realized that I had been tricked into ordering the Pesarattu which I had been avoiding like the plague. I glanced at my roomie with the most innocent 'Puppy eyes' look that I could manage. But she was happily digging into her Choley Bhature and was quite oblivious to my distress.
Left with no option, I gingerly broke a piece of the Pesarattu, wrapped it around some of the upma, dipped it in some spicy chutney and popped it into my mouth with a bundle of misgivings. And was pleasantly surprised !! Turned out that my fears were completely unfounded and it tasted quite mild actually if I were to discount the spicy chutney. I was happy to have discovered yet another ally amongst the inscrutable South Indian menu.
While it took me a few trails and finally the help of my Andhra neighbor to nail this recipe, I am still in the dark about the real story behind the discovery of this dish. Whether it is the popular one about this dosa being a favorite on the Raj Bhavan canteen menu to the more credible one about a sycophant who combined the two favorites to please a member of the Legislature, each one has enough spice to keep one guessing. Try it out for yourself even as figure out the one that captures your imagination.
Read on for the recipe -
Preparation Time - 30 mins
For the Pesarattu -
- 1 cup whole green moong dal ( even split ones will do )
- a fistful of poha/avalakki/chiwda/chuda
- 1 green chili
- a small piece of ginger
- 1-2 pinch cumin seeds
- salt to taste
For the Upma -
- 1 cup rawa ( I use Bombay rawa )
- 1 tsp channa dal
- 1 tsp urad dal
- 1/3 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 small onion
- 1-2 green chilis
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- a pinch of asafotida
- 1/2 tsp ginger juliennes
- salt to taste
- 2 tsp ghee
- Oil for making the dosa
- chopped onions for garnishing (optional)
Preparation - Wash and soak the moong dal overnight. Rub it to loosen the skin. Remove about 50-60 perecent of the skin for a better taste.
Transfer the moong dal, poha, chili, ginger, cumin and salt into a mixer jar. Grind into a fine paste with a consistency that is similar to the dosa batter.
Cooking - Heat 1 tsp ghee in a wok. Add the rawa and fry till it gives off a sweet smell. Remove and keep aside.
Heat the remaining oil. Add the asafoetida, mustard seeds and broken green chili. Once it gets spluttering, add the dals and fry a bit. Then add the chopped onions and curry leaves. Fry till onion is translucent.
Add 2 cups water and bring it to a boil. Add the salt and then the roasted rawa.
Cook till all the water is absorbed. Remove from the flame. Cover and keep aside.
Heat a dosa tawa. Take some of the green moong batter and spread it a little thick.
Once it is a little done, scrape off some of the batter for crispy and thin dosa.
Drizzle the oil on the sides. Place some upma in the center and garnish with onion/ginger/carrot . Fold and remove from the tawa.
Serve hot with onion-tamarind chutney !!
Note - If you are very particular about the bright green color, use a few coriander leaves for making the gravy.