Rava Dosa and Coconut Chutney (BTFF)

feed the hungrysummary: rava dosa, coconut chutney and potato curry; information about Baking Through Flatbreads and Flavors (BTFF); reminder of those in need; list of some of the aid organizations working to feed the hungry; (click on images for larger views)

rava dosa We were happily reading through the Indian section of “Flatbreads and Flavors” and got to Coconut Chutney on page 156… mmmm… coconut chutney…. Then we arrived at Rava Dosa on page 157.

Rava dosa??

We’d heard of dosas, of course. We’ve made dahl dosa and we’ve eaten lots of rice dosa and threatened to try making it ourselves but always gotten disheartened by the idea of trying to ferment the rice flour mixture.

And T had heard of rava dosa but he couldn’t remember ever trying one. Intrigued, we read on.

Rava dosas are […] made from wheat, not rice, but are served like ordinary dosas with coconut chutney and sambhar. They make a great start to a day.

  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt […]

-Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, Flatbreads and Flavors, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka: Rava Dosa, p. 157

Sooji and Rawa are Hindi words for Semolina. […] For batters a fine version of Sooji is used whereas when it is the main ingredient, it is used in coarser form. […] Also Known As: suji, rava

– Petrina Verma Sarkar, Sooji – Rawa,

Rava means semolina?! Who knew?

We always have semolina flour on hand for making fresh pasta. We buy it in IndiaTown, where it is labelled “suji”. It is also available at our local supermarket in bags marked “sooji – cream of wheat semolina”. (I love the many and various English spellings of Indian words.) It is far less pricey than buying semolina flour in ItalyTown and is exactly the same thing.

We read the recipe through again. We googled rava dosa and watched a wonderful video on YouTube and then got really excited. We’ve often had regular dosas but neither of us have ever had rava dosas before. And discovering that there would be no overnight soaking, we couldn’t wait to immediately try rava dosa.

We raced into the kitchen to start washing and chopping potatoes, onions, sooji, ginger, coriander leaf, green chillies….

One of the things we keep remarking on as we go through this book is how times have changed in a relatively short time. When the book was published in 1995, many ingredients were unavailable. This seems to be especially the case with chillies. Duguid and Alford call for jalapeno chillies in the coconut chutney. I’m not sure, but I suspect that jalapenos are not readily available in India. And it seems quite unlikely that they would be used to make dosas.

Not that there’s anything wrong with jalapenos! But they do have a different flavour and texture than the thin green chillies that we expect to see in Indian food.

So, in both the dosas and the coconut chutney, rather than jalapenos, we used the smallish hot green chillies that we buy at one of our favourite Indian grocery stores. We think they’re cayennes….

We didn’t happen to have curry leaves on hand that particular day. As there really isn’t a substitute for curry leaves, we simply omitted them.

Please don’t misunderstand. We do love the wonderful dusky flavour of curry leaves and gladly add them to south Indian style dishes whenever we have them on hand. And luckily for us in Toronto, fresh curry leaves are relatively easy to get. But on this occasion, we were so excited to be making rava dosa that we didn’t take the time to ride our bikes to the Indian market.

And did we even follow the coconut chutney recipe in the book?

coconut chutney Ahem… I’m afraid not really. T simply put together a coconut chutney from memory. It was very close to coconut chutney I droned on about in 2010. And looking at the ingredients list, I see that our coconut chutney is not unsimilar to Duguid and Alford’s.

But one thing you really don’t want to omit from the coconut chutney is the roasted chana dahl. Once you’ve tasted its lovely nutty flavour in coconut chutney, you’ll agree that it’s not really optional at all.

potato curry T made potato curry (we didn’t have any cashews on hand so left them out. The potato curry was still delicious) and sambhar from a package (:!:) that he claims tastes not too bad. I declined to try it (again); I have never been a fan of sambhar. Perhaps it’s the hing (asafoetida) that is inevitably present. Or maybe it’s the amount of turmeric – another spice that is not one of my favourites. Or perhaps it’s simply because it just ends up being like lukewarm watery soup.

However, if you want sambhar, the one on page 154 is no doubt perfectly correct – although it surprisingly doesn’t call for hing. (Hmmm, maybe I wouldn’t loathe THAT sambhar…. :lalala:)

Are You Hungry Now? Really Hungry?

There has been a lot of talk recently about the movie release of the novel “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. I haven’t seen the movie but I did read the book and it was indeed thrilling. But does it really have anything to do with world hunger? Shouldn’t we be talking a lot about that?

Let’s talk about real hunger. Non-fictional hunger.

Every time we eat, but especially when we have Indian food, I am reminded that we are the fortunate few, to be able to choose from such a vast array of cuisines and dine like royalty every day.

World Food Programme

Despite significant economic progress in the past decade, India is home to about 25 percent of the world’s hungry poor. Although the country grows enough food for its people, pockets of hunger remain.

According to government figures, around 43 per cent of children under the age of five years are malnourished and more than half of all pregnancy women aged between 15 and 49 years suffer from anaemia.

– India | WFP | United Nations World Food Programme

Of course, go to see the Hunger Games movie if you want. But when you go (or even if you decide not to go), how about matching the amount you will spend on the movie, snacks and transportation with a donation to a reputable agency that is working desperately to end hunger so that the Hunger Games will never ever be played in real life.

empty bowl Note that there are impoverished and hungry people everywhere in the world. And there are many organizations attempting to feed these people.

Please remember when giving your donations to ensure that the relief agency you have chosen already has operations set up in the area. Also, it’s a good idea to ask their advice about whether it is best to specify “greatest need” on your donation. They know best where the moneys really need to go.

Here are just a few possibilities. Please look in your community for others:

And don’t forget about these sites online.


Bloggers Against Hunger
Working together with the
World Food Programme
to prevent hunger

(If you have something to add or say about stopping world hunger, please remember to post your thoughts and ideas on your blog, facebook, at work, etc. etc.)

Flatbreads and Flavors Baking through Flatbreads and Flavors
March 2012: Rava Dosa and Coconut Chutney

A group of us are baking our circuitous way through the wonderful cookbook/travelogue “Flatbreads and Flavors” by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. This month, we travelled to India to make Rava Dosa.

[I]n India we never miss breakfast, and we find ourselves over a period o ftime waking earlier and earlier each day to taste all the breakfasttime foods that are available in the market or in restaurants, […] Rava dosas are thin crêpe-like breads spiked with chiles, ginger, curry, and coriander leaves. They are made from wheat, not rice, but are served like ordinary dosas with coconut chutney and sambhar. They make a great start to a day.

-Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, Fresh Coriander, Ginger, and Chile Crêpes rava dosa . South India, “Flatbreads & Flavors”; p.157

Well rats. I have to be truthful. We were quite disappointed in our rava dosas!! They weren’t at all crispy on the outside the way we expect dosas to be.

Maybe it’s the semolina; maybe we just made them incorrectly.

They tasted okay. But they just weren’t thrilling. The coconut chutney was great though.

I hope your rava dosas are much more satisfying than ours!

Please take a look at other BTFFers’ rava dosas:



This entry was posted in baking, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, BTFF, cookbooks, etc., food & drink, hunger, Indian, spicy, vegetarian, whine on by .

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  • Natashya

    Well they look great! Soft is fine with me, I like the bendy ability. :-)
    Yeah, I see jalapeno in some Indian recipes too – product availability – that makes sense. Of course that’s not a problem in T.O. and the GTA! Thank heavens for a moveable planet.
    And rava means semolian – who knew?

  • Gretchen Noelle

    Sorry you were not thrilled with these. Just picked up “semola” – the spanish version of “cream of wheat” this morning and hope to make these early this week. I have high hopes to enjoy them!

  • Heather @girlichef

    Well. Overall, this sounds like a fun experience. Bummer that your rava dosa’s weren’t what you’d hoped for. I’m going to try to make mine this week, so I’ll let you know my thoughts on them. And I’ll probably use jalapenos, because as you know, I have a harder time finding some Indian ingredients around here. The meal you made sounds pretty amazing. I saw the Hunger Games over the weekend – and liked it. Let’s definitely hope it never comes to that in real life!

  • Joanne

    My roommate is indian and her mom makes us dosa all the time! They are SO GOOD. i’ve always wanted to try my hand at them…so this recipe is a must-make!

  • ejm

    In retrospect, they actually weren’t that bad at all, Natashya and Gretchen. They just weren’t as fabulously crispy as we expected. It’s entirely possible that the pan wasn’t hot enough.

    My only argument against using jalapenos is that they aren’t (in general) as hot as the little needle green chilis we’re accustomed to using for Indian food (are they Thai chilis??) . But jalapenos will no doubt work really well, Heather. I can’t wait to hear how yours turn out.

    I wonder if your roommate’s mom makes fermented rice dosas or rava dosas, Joanne. If she makes rice dosas, and you can’t easily get her recipe, I highly recommend that you try making the dahl dosas we’ve made that have been, as you say about your roommate’s mom’s dosas: SO GOOD.


  • MyKitchenInHalfCups

    I do hope to try these.
    I’m with you on how things change so fast. I do find more and more variety of peppers in the stores and I love trying them all. Curry leaves have proved hard for me to find.