Monday, September 14, 2009

Dosas at the Slow Food Picnic - Daring Cooks meet Time For Lunch Campaign

If I ever had a Vaudeville act it would be plate spinning. I can multi-task with the best of them. So when Debyi from Healthy Vegan Kitchen chose Indian Dosas (from the refresh cookbook by Ruth Tal) for the Daring Cook's September Challenge - AND- Slow Food USA was launching a Time For Lunch campaign to bring healthy food into our kid's schools by throwing a country wide Eat-In on Labor Day - my brain plates started spinning. I followed the recipes as given for the Daring Cook's Challenge, but created the lacy Indian crepes into mini crepes that could feed a crowd. Then, I brought them proudly to my neighborhood Slow Food Picnic. It was a large platter of fragrant, colorful, vegan delectables that were literally scooped up (with repeat visits) even by the youngest children. I was as proud as if I'd brought my grandma's buttermilk fried chicken to the preacher's invitation-only cover-dish dinner. I've never been vegan, and can't imagine giving up cheese, milk or fish forever, but - hey- that's why I signed up for the Daring Kitchen: to be challenged and stretched into areas that maybe I'd never pick on my own.

After making the recipes as offered, I also did a little more research on my own (half the fun is learning other cultures, too.) Okay, so the Dosa recipe we used was A way of making them and actually closer to Maida Dosas (fine milled wheat flour used on occasion in Indian Cuisine) than the older versions of Dosas that use rice and urad dal (lentils) that are soaked overnight, ground and fermented for hours before being made into a batter. However; these Dosas were a great introduction and by using Spelt Flour (a very hearty and healthy grain) they became something that I would gladly make again even on a limited time schedule. I also discovered they freeze well, which makes it even more convenient for feeding a busy family that still wants to eat healthy.
The Slow Food Eat-In on Labor Day had over 300 picnics happening all across America and was successful in gathering over 20,000 signatures on a petition to raise awareness in the USA to the need for better nutrition in our school lunches. I'm including a few pics from our small neighborhood picnic because the food was just so darn delicious looking and tasting.
It was inspiring to see families setting an example by eating fresh foods with their kids, talking about the farming, etc... And, to see small kids grabbing skewers of tiny tomatoes and fruits and eating them like/instead of candy - well, that was just the coolest summer day yet. Slow Food USA supplied flyers, and plenty of bio-degradable plates and utensils.
And NOW to the recipes. There are three parts to the whole Dosa experience that we followed.
1) The Pancakes/the Dosas (like Indian crepes)
2) The Curry Garbanzo Filling (which can be made and frozen for later, and can also be used as a topping for rice, so making the whole recipe is just simply smart.
3) The Coconut Curry sauce (which can ALSO be frozen for later and
used as a topping on veggies, rice or a different dish of your own concoction; I found this very mild flavored)

Dosa Pancakes
1 cup (120gm/8oz) spelt flour (or all-purpose, gluten free flour)
½ tsp (2½ gm) salt
½ tsp (2½ gm) baking powder
½ tsp (2½ gm) curry powder
½ cup (125ml/4oz) almond milk (or soy, or rice, etc.)
¾ cup (175ml/6oz) water
cooking spray, if needed

1.Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth. This can get gummy, go at it little at a time.
2.Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray your pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, if needed.
3.Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.
** In my case, I used a small pan and I did add a little more almond milk to make just a bit thinner batter.

Curried Garbanzo Filling

5 cloves garlic
1 onion, peeled and finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced (red, yellow or orange are fine too)
2 medium hot banana chilies, minced
2 TBSP (16gm) cumin, ground
1 TBSP (8gm) oregano
1 TBSP (8gm) sea salt (coarse)
1 TBSP (8gm) turmeric
4 cups (850gm/30oz) cooked or canned chick peas (about 2 cans)
½ cup (125gm/4oz) tomato paste

1.Heat a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Add the garlic, veggies, and spices, cooking until soft, stirring occasionally.
2.Mash the chickpeas by hand, or in a food processor. Add the chickpeas and tomato paste to the saucepan, stirring until heated through.

Coconut Curry Sauce

1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ (2½ gm) tsp cumin, ground
¾ (3¾ gm) tsp sea salt (coarse)
3 TBSP (30gm) curry powder
3 TBSP (30gm) spelt flour (or all-purpose GF flour)
3 cups (750ml/24oz) vegetable broth
2 cups (500ml/24oz) coconut milk
3 large tomatoes, diced

1.Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, or until soft.
2.Add the spices, cooking for 1 minutes more. Add the flour and cook for 1 additional minute.
3.Gradually stir in the vegetable broth to prevent lumps. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the coconut milk and tomatoes, stirring occasionally.
4.Let it simmer for half an hour.
Dosa Toppings
1 batch Coconut Curry Sauce (see below), heated
¼ cup (125gm) grated coconut
¼ cucumber, sliced

Was it worth it? Yes! Was it delicious? Yes! Would I make it again? Yes!

During the month of September, Slow Food USA is opening their membership to anyone for any amount they can pay. I hope you'll look into right here.

Daring Kitchens are open to all interested in a cooking/baking challenge. I hope to read about your experience next. AND you can read about the other blogs right here.

**Other wonderful links to fabulous Indian Cooking:



Simon said...

I like how you incorporated two otherwise distinct activities into a single event.

The post made for an interesting read. Sounds like you got a kick not just at the challenge but the return consumers too :)

Balise said...

Very nice pictures and post indeed - you're more courageous than I was on the dosas front - that's a huge pile of them! your small pan is cute, makes me want one :)

Anonymous said...

Beautifully done. What a great event. You can definitely crank out some food for a crowd. Nice to see that the crowd received these well.

Cheri said...

What fun! And, such a great idea. Your dosas look lovely.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Your photos are spectacular. I hope you enjoyed the challenge. Your event looks like it was a great deal of fun.

Jenni said...

Great job! I can't believe you cooked a challenge recipe for a huge crowd like that! Kudos to you indeed!!

Lauren said...

Wonderful job with this challenge!! Your dosas look delicious =D.

Anonymous said...

I totally admire you! Taking a recipe that you're making for the the first unfamiliar way of cooking, and serving it to a crowd, calmly and beautifully - people coming back for more on your first try! Great photos, and everything looks delicious! You rocked it :)

Khali//Bandit and the Scene Stealers said...

Well I guess I will join the huge crowd and say I totally admire you too!!!! Vegan, vegetarian- who cares! Good food is good food! And when it comes to Showfood it looks like it's great food! yum again.

mub said...

Beautiful! I'm glad you had such a great success at your picnic too, it sounds like a great cause.

Anonymous said...

Wow - you're amazing for assembling these for a crowd! Love the picture of your naked dosas.