Dosa Kitchen by Nash Patel and Leda Scheintaub is exactly the kind of fermentation book I want propped open with bags of lentils on my kitchen counter from now on. The recipes are well-tested and well-written. They range from traditional (masala dosa) to decidedly non-traditional (banana bourbon flambé dosa). It’s a beautiful book, but it’s not precious. The images generally help you make the food taste the way the authors intended and will also succeed in making you drool.
If you already make dosa, you’ll have a ton to learn from this book and you’ll love the recipes. If you’ve never heard of the light-as-air, South Indian crispy crêpe before, Dosa Kitchen is the perfect introduction and the perfect immersion. In case you can’t tell, I REALLY LIKE IT.
Patel grew up making dosa in Hyderabad in southern India. He learned by watching his mom and carries on the tradition today by making dosa in the food truck he owns with his wife (co-author and author of the excellent Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen, Leda Scheintaub), Dosa Kitchen. Since 2014 they’ve been selling delightful treats that include both thoroughly modern takes on the dosa and traditional recipes to the presumably delighted residents of Battleboro, VT. Happily, though, they wrote this book without falling into the trap of so many professional chefs and cooks who let their pro kitchen experience muddy the waters for their readers (primarily home cooks and fermenters). You will be able to make every recipe in this book and end up with something excellent to eat or serve to clamoring guests or family.
In the time since I received this book, I’ve made a lot of the recipes because, frankly, I wanted to eat all the stuff in here. The recipes have universally been great. The fillings are often unexpected, the chutneys are so flavorful and easy to make that we’ve been doubling and quadrupling our batches so we can put chutney on everything. Even better, their basic dosa instructions helped me dramatically improve my technique. (Oil in a squirt bottle, y’all. That has changed my dosa life!)
After eating the first batch of dosa using the Dosa Kitchen recipe (pg. 28) that I served simply with some peanut chutney (pg. 129) my husband kindly suggested that I try every recipe in the book…you know, to be fully thorough in my review.
At 143 pages, Dosa Kitchen isn’t going to take up a ton of space on your bookshelf but its pages contain everything you could possibly need to make an amazing dosa feast. It’s not laden with tons of personal stories but it still feels personal and filled with love. This book is all about what it looks like to do everything delicious and interesting on a table set for dosa. Additionally, what looks like one recipe might actually be 8, because they offer tons of distinct and seriously fun variations on many of the base recipes. Each could easily be its own recipe, but the authors are concise and respectful of your intelligence and time.
If there’s one quibble some US readers might have, it’s that there are a few specialty ingredients you’ll need to order for a certain recipes if you don’t live near an Indian grocer. Here’s why US readers shouldn’t be salty about that: There aren’t any ingredients you can’t get in the US, reasonable substitutions or omissions are offered where the authors feel they make sense, and I think it’s very important for subject experts to write about their foods how they make them and how they want them made. You can find vendors of specialty ingredients in the resources section. PS – You can always choose to make your own substitutions or skip those particular recipes if an uncommon ingredient is too difficult for you to source. I do recommend trying to get everything as written (even those optional ingredients), because, once more, these recipes result in food that looks gorgeous and tastes like a spice-filled dream.
Lastly, yes, dosa fermentation is obviously a key part of this book, but it digs way more deeply into the traditional ways to eat dosa and the ways to deliciously push the boundaries of those traditional ways. You will learn to make dosa, but you will also learn many ways to eat dosa, which is just as fun!
- Dosa Kitchen is all about dosas: how to make them, how to eat them, what else to do with the batter, how to be playful and experimental with them and how to make and serve them the traditional way
- There are loads of options, from vegan to meat to dessert
- Dosas are naturally gluten- and dairy-free crepes and you can use the batter to make other traditional breads as well.
- You may need some special ingredients, but everything is available for order within the US. Some individual recipes call for small amounts of special ingredients, but they’re generally used in many recipes, so they’re worth having (because you’re probably going to want to make 1,000,000 recipes from this book)
- Three words: That. Coconut. Chutney
- More words: All. Those. Chutneys
- This book is fun and makes dosa easy so you should definitely buy it
Masala Dosa from Dosa Kitchen by Nash Patel and Leda Scheintaub
(This recipe is for the delectable filling; you’ll want finished dosas for serving, and you can find their excellent dosa how-to here, under “A Peek Inside”)
This is definitely one of the longer ingredient lists of any of the recipes I tried, but it’s a very classic dosa filling, so it seemed like the thing to share here. The authors recommend an assortment of chutneys as an accompaniment to this and so do I. Their coconut chutney (pg. 122) is particularly delicious here, but all of their recommendations were great.
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes
- 1/4 cup sunflower oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 to 2 dried red chiles, to taste, broken into pieces
- 1 tablespoon chana dal
- 1 teaspoon urad dal
- Large handful of fresh curry leaves
- Pinch of asafetida
- 1 large red onion, halved, then thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup raw cashew pieces (optional)
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 to 3 fresh green chiles to taste, minched
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
Boil potatoes in a large saucepan until fork tender. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain the rest. Let the potatoes cool until you can easily handle them, then slide the peels off with your hands and place the potatoes in a large bowl.
Wipe the saucepan you used for your potatoes clean, then heat oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not yet smoking. Add each spice in quick succession, in order from mustard seed to asafetida. Do not stir and don’t let them burn. This step doesn’t take long, so keep a close eye. When you see that they’ve darkened a couple shades, lower the heat to medium and add onion, cashews, ginger, and green chiles. Stir often until the onion is glossy and slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add turmeric and cook for 30 seconds, then add salt.
Add the potatoes back to the pan and coarsely mash with a potato masher until they are a bit coarser, drier and chunkier than mashed potatoes. Stir in a bit of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten and break down the potatoes to a scoop able consistency. (Don’t continue mashing after this).
Stir in lemon juice and salt to taste. Remove red chiles.
Stuff the mix in a dosa and wow everyone at your dinner table.
All photos in this post are copyright © 2018 by Kristen Teig. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Recipe and book photos used with express permission from Clarkson Potter.
Clarkson Potter provided me with a free copy of this book, but a lot of books are offered to me and I never write about the ones I don’t like. I truly love this book and I intend to purchase my own, additional digital copy (because that’s how I like to have cookbooks I reference frequently, and I intend to keep this one super active in my kitchen for the foreseeable future).
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