It was summer of 2000. My entire family visited our uncle in Vizhag. After our tiring day at Araku valley, with hunger pangs at its peak, we walked to a nearest roadside shack for some tea. There in the corner a young lad, clad in lungi and cotton shirt was making pesarattu (dosa/crepes/ pancakes made with green gram and rice), with an old lady looked like his mother helping with plating and serving. An elderly man unable to talk was sitting in the cashier section. He could be his dad I thought to myself. It was a small place with benches, long enough to fit 6-8 people in a row. And a similar bench much lower in height was placed next to it. That was used as a chair. The place was packed and that vouched that food is good here. I have eaten pesarattu in metro cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, even Mumbai but never in a small town like Araku valley. I remember my perippa‘s versus “more interior we go to explore a place, more close you can get to its cuisine”. Hence my entire family of 25 entered this small family owned eatery with open mind and hungry stomach.
We kids literally rushed to the spot where he was making those yummy dosas. It was an open kitchen with a large rectangular tava like ones we find in burger joints and fire burning hot below that. Before he began making these dosas, he splashed cold water over the hot griddle. Once the water drops touched the hot surface, they boiled and erupted to steam in no minutes. It hissed like a steam engine, immediately he wiped out the surface clean with a broomstick made from coconut tree. He dipped a small container into a large pot of batter, poured them over and with the flat end of the container he made a circle and drizzled oil around its surface. Once cooked on one side, he flipped it over and let it cook for another couple of minutes. He patiently waited for another few minutes to crisp up the edges. The beautiful aroma filled the May air, nostrils flared inhaling those steam and smelling the dish doubled our hunger. He made 4-5 dosas at a time, sprinkled crunchy red onions on top and served it with coconut chutney and hot sambhar. Every time I visit Andhra Pradesh, I would definitely taste this dosa made from simple whole green gram.
Did you know?
1. Green gram dal also know as mung bean is one of the most common dal used in Indian cooking. They are small, oval shaped bean that should be cooked after soaking for sometime. Once cooked ( I pressure cook them for 1 whistle), the bean tastes mildly sweet and has a soft texture. They digest easily even my 14 month old son would eat it.
2. Unlike other legumes, green gram doesn’t cause any flatulence.
3. They are nutritious, low in fat, high in proteins and fibers.1 cup of cooked green gram has close to 212 calories and 15g fiber and 4 g protein. Water soluble fiber present in green gram dal helps to reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from your body thereby reducing the risk for cardiovascular diseases.
4. They have low glycemic index. That makes it a perfect candidate for South Beach Diet. It digests slowly and glucose will be released gradually into the bloodstream. So there will not be any spiked up sugar levels after a meal. Dishes made with green gram is perfect for women with gestational diabetes. It can also curb your post meal cravings. It fills you up and satisfies the appetite.
I made a little variation to the original recipe by adding spinach and also replaced white rice with brown rice. This makes it more nutritious and further makes it so green. Full of fresh cilantro, little organic baby spinach, perfectly pungent ginger and hot-hot Thai green chillies, this nutritious breakfast dish is perfect to start a power packed day. Since the sugar levels don’t spike up high, you will feel full for good amount of time and what more is needed for a healthy start. Pair it up with a cup of green tea in water, you will feel so proud about yourself for not indulging in any sweet tooth the entire day. I served mine with moong bean sambhar and baked lean meat balls curry (recipe coming in the next post). Since I am a big fan to my mother’s coarse idly podi (spice mix), I ate them by sprinkling little on top of onions and rolled it into a frankie and dipped in sambar and relished every bite.
PESARATTU (with green gram dal and brown rice)
- 3 cups green gram
- 1 cup brown rice
- 3 Thai green chillies
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 cup spinach – (optional)
- 1/4 cup coconut (optional)1 cup water
- Salt to taste , about 2 teaspoon
- 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil to make the pancakes
- 1 finely chopped onion for garnish
- Soak the green gram and brown rice in water for 5 hours. Drain the water. Start with grinding green chillies, curry leaves, coriander leaves, cumin seeds, spinach and coconut in a food processor. Grind them to a smooth paste. Remove and store in a fresh bowl where you plan to store the batter.
- Now add the green gram, brown rice and little salt,g grind them to a coarse paste.
- You could do it in two batched. For the first batch grind them to a smooth paste and set aside. Then for the second batch grind them to a coarse paste. The coarseness will make your dosa crisp up well.
- Mix them all together with salt and store for 2 hours. If it is too thick, you could add little water to bring it to a pancake batter like consistency.
How to make the dosas?
- Heat the iron tava/saucepan or the non-stick tava at medium flame.
- Place your hand just over the tava to check for the heat.The tava shouldn’t be too hot. Drizzle few drops of oil over the tava and spread them around with a kitchen tissue paper.
- Ladle some batter at the center of the tava and immediately spread them into a larger circle in a clockwise direction. Add few drops of oil along the outer sides of the dosa. If using a non-stick, you don’t need to add any oil.
- Cook for 5-8 minutes on low flame. Slowly release the edges with a spatula, remove and flip it over to other side. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.5. Sprinkle freshly chopped raw onions over the dosa and serve hot with any chutney/ sambhar.
- Since it has whole grains they take a longer time to break down to sugar. This will keep your sugar levels at normal. A perfect dish for those who are diabetic and pre-diabetic.
- Use less amount of oil. Don’t make oily, greasy dosas. It’s OK to satisfy your craving for crispy dosa once a while. If you are worried about those extra calories that went through your mouth, an immediate remedy will be to do sit-ups or squats for 60 seconds. Also heard that a glass of grapefruit juice (no added sugar) will also help to balance out the extra calories.
- Ideal breakfast dish for those on a weight loss mission and for those who are looking for a healthy lifestyle.
- A good vegetarian breakfast dish for South beach phase 2 and 3 dieters. For those in phase 1, I would suggest skipping the brown rice and adding eggs to the batter before making the dosas. Eggs act as a binder and will help you make clean dosas without tearing.
- 1 cup raw long grain brown rice (684 calories) +
- 3 cups of raw mung beans (718 x3 = 2154 calories) +
- 2 tablespoon olive oil in total for 20 dosas (2 x 120 = 240 calories) +
- 3 green chillies (3×18 = 54 calories) +
- 1/2 cup cilantro ( 2 calories) +
- 1/4 cup baby spinach ( close to 2 calories)