Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dosas for Dummies

By: Laurie Wallin
Capital Cooking Contributor
Ever heard of a dosa? I hadn’t either, until I attended Dosas for Dummies, hosted by Bombay, India native Priya Ammu, Chef and owner of dc dosa. Dosas are rice- and lentil-based crepes stuffed with a variety of fillings. They are a popular food staple in Southern India and Ammu’s goal is to make them mainstream here and a regular part of a healthy diet. All of her recipes are home-based – from her Mother-In-Law – and even better, Ammu’s dosas are vegan and gluten-free. Even the varieties made with more substantial fillings clock in at around 400 calories, perfect for a satisfying meal.

Again, dosas are made with a base of lentils and rice. The dosas that Ammu prepared were made with three different lentils blends. The first was made with a blend of white lentils, mini lentils, chana daal and split pigeon peas, the second made with whole mung lentils, and the third made with mini yellow lentils. Once soaked and blended, the lentils form a cake-like batter to be cooked and which forms the dosa base.

Dosas can be made with a number of fillings, and Ammu fills hers with curry potatoes, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and vegetables. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I’m not the biggest fan of vegetables, but I couldn’t get enough of the four lentil dosa. Made with the four lentil blend blended with rice, fennel seeds, fresh garlic and dried red chilies and stuffed with sautéed cabbage and carrots, the dosa was rich and satisfying.

Ammu’s dosas are accompanied by different chutneys, designed to enhance the flavor of each dosa. With the petite yellow dosa, I preferred the Tomato Peanut chutney, with the four lentil dosa, I liked the onion tamarind chutney, and with the Whole Mung Lentil Dosa (the most filling dosa of the three) I preferred the most potent chutney, the Cilantro Sesame.

After winning DC StartUp Kitchen (a contest designed to support budding local food entrepreneurs of which the prize was the opportunity to open a pop-up restaurant under the tutelage of an established restaurateur), Amma approached Whole Foods Market and is now selling her authentic dosas 7 days a week at the Whole Foods located in Foggy Bottom. From 11-9 M-F and 11-4 on the weekends, you can purchase Amma’s delicious dosas for $8 (which includes your choice of chutneys) and enjoy a vegan, gluten-free filling meal for 400 calories or less. She hopes to expand to additional Whole Foods locations in the future.

In addition to dosas, Ammu also sells her fresh-made lassi (an Indian yogurt-based drink). I had the opportunity to sample the Mango Ginger Lassi which was made from Ataulfo mangoes, fresh ginger, buttermilk, yogurt, and brown sugar, and is looking to switch it up to Strawberry and Black Pepper soon! Be sure to visit Ammu and try a dosa at Foggy Bottom Whole Foods 7 days a week or visit for more information.

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