Moong Dal Dosa, and Mayberry

Moong Dal DosaMount Airy is a gorgeous, sleepy town nestled in the valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains right near where North Carolina meets Virginia.

Once you’ve driven into town past the inevitable neon-lit fast-food restaurants, gas stations and strip malls, the landscape becomes kinder and gentler. The houses are small, the yards neat, and the streets rolling up and down show off breathtaking views in the distance.

By 5 pm all the shops on Main Street are closed. The only activity and sounds come from a handful of tourists taking pictures of the storefronts of Barney’s Cafe, Opie’s Candy Shop and Floyd’s Barber Shop. Outside the cafe– a diner straight from the ’60s with the picture of an iconic, bumbling sheriff’s deputy displayed large in the window–a sign announces classic southern dishes like chicken and dumplings, sweet potato pie and all sorts of desserts for $2 apiece. A little further down the street are signs telling you where you can find Wally’s gas station and the old courthouse.
Mount Airy, NCIf Mount Airy is beginning to sound a lot like Mayberry, the fictional town popularized in the Andy Griffith Show, a television sitcom way back from the ’60s, you’re right on the money. Mount Airy is the place where Andy Griffith was born, and the town that he is supposed to have based Mayberry on. Mount Airy, in turn, seems to be returning the compliment wholeheartedly by modeling itself on its fictional counterpart.

On our road trip this past week, we dropped in on Mount Airy en route from Charlotte, North Carolina, to say a quick “Hey.”
Mt. Airy, NCDesi and I started watching reruns of this series when we moved to the United States in the 90s. It was easy to sink into the snug comfort of a black-and-white world where everyone knows one another, is nice to each other, helps each other out, and where no problem cannot be solved in 30 minutes. (And now you know why we named one of our dogs, Opie, after the character a very young and adorable Ron Howard played in the series :).)

It was late by Mayberry standards when we arrived and all the Mayberry exhibits were closed, but we had a memorable visit nonetheless. Most of the people we met greeted us with a smile, quite unlike us Washingtonians who usually glare at tourists clogging our Metro trains at rush hour. We also stopped by the Andy Griffith Playhouse which was closed, but newspaper clips displayed outside announced the premiere of Griffith’s latest movie and recent pictures of the actor visiting his hometown.
Mt. Airy, NCSmall towns like Mount Airy are often the highlight of our road trips. Often, wrung out by the dreary highways we rely on to take us from one point to another, we stop in for a meal and sometimes for the night in those tiny towns where you can savor a uniquely different flavor of American life.

Sometimes we choose towns because we were charmed by how they looked or sounded on television or in a movie, even one we didn’t like, simply because that’s how we find out about it. After regretting the time we spent watching Runaway Bride, we still made a stop in Berlin, Maryland, the lovely town not far from Ocean City where it was shot. We’ve visited Burkittsville, also in Maryland, the wooded, one-road town where the cult classic Blair Witch Project was made. And on a trip through New York state we couldn’t resist dropping into Jamestown and Celeron, the neighboring towns where another one of our favorite yesteryear sitcom stars, Lucille Ball, was born and raised. (And yes, Lucy, our other dog, was named after her. You can also guess now who Freddie gets his name from!)

***
Now on to the recipe I wanted to share with you today, my Moong Dal Dosa, which is both quick and incredibly nutritious.

I love dosas but I don’t make them as often as I’d like to simply because all that overnight soaking is a little bit much for someone as unorganized as I am. This dosa requires just a two-hour soak which even I can make time for. And the result is super-delicious and nutritious: since the dosa has both lentils and rice in it, it makes a complete protein. How great is that?

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, everyone!
Moong Dal Dosa

Moong Dal Dosa
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup rice (you can use all kinds of fancy rices available specifically for dosas here, but I just use any medium-grain rice I have on hand)
  • ¼ cup moong dal
  • ½ cup coriander leaves, chopped
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Cover the rice and moong dal with water and allow them to soak for at least 2 hours.
  2. Drain the water and put the rice and dal in a blender along with the coriander leaves, chillies and salt. Add just enough water to keep the blades running and to get a batter that's thick enough the coat the back of a ladle, but runnier than a pancake batter (unless you want really thick dosas which I personally don't like)
  3. Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron or non-stick griddle. Once it's hot, scoop up about ¼ cup of batter in a ladle with a rounded bottom.
  4. Pour the batter into the center of the griddle. Using the bottom of the ladle, quickly spread the batter outward in quick, concentric circles until you have a dosa about 7 inches in diameter.
  5. Drizzle a few drops of oil around the edges of the dosa which helps crisp them up.
  6. When the bottom is golden-brown, flip the dosa and cook the other side around 30 seconds.
  7. Serve hot with
  8. chutney
  9. or any spicy, gravied vegetable dish.
  10. Tip: If you dosas don't spread and the batter clumps together instead, your griddle could be too hot. Turn off the heat or sprinkle some water on the surface of the griddle to cool it down and try again.

***

I’ll leave you with a picture of JoJo, an adventurous and gorgeous little cat who lived at a hotel we stopped at for a night in South Boston, Virginia. JoJo (that’s what Desi named him), who couldn’t get enough head rubs from us, refused to stay inside our room with the door closed but sat patiently right outside most of the night.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

 

Comments

  1. says

    Crispy looking moong dal dosa .. mmmm … and a lovely write. Great combi Vaishali! :-)
    I cannot spread the batter with a ladle … so I turn the tawa all around. :-p

  2. says

    It’s always wonderful to explore new places on road trips. We hardly get to travel anywhere after our son’s birth. We miss the spontaneous “pack the bag, let’s drive” phase very much.

    It’s my favorite dosa too Vaishali. I use cracked wheat instead of the rice.

  3. says

    Loved the fact that you guys take detours into the quaint little towns and mingle with the locals. We have hardly ever done that, but reading your discription makes me want to take a road trip now.
    Love the moong dosa recipe. For some reason I always thought the batter only had moong dal in it, no rice.
    One question out of curiosity — as a vegan, what choices do you have in a small town dinner or restaurant?

  4. says

    Vaishali, you should write a travel blog (although I doubt you have time!) Have you ever been to Cumberland and Frostburg, Md? Cumberland has a great farmer’s market in the summer, and there is a scenic railroad that runs between the two towns. I thought the train trip was boring, but my husband, who is a train geek, loved it. In Frostburg, there is the elegant, yet creepy, Hotel Gunter that is worth a stay.

  5. says

    Kitchen Flavors, Sowmya, Thanks. I make the moong dal chilkas too that are made entirely with the dal and no rice, but as Sowmya points out the rice does make this dosa crispier.

    Debra, Kalwa: Thanks.

    Sharmila, I used to find spreading the batter difficult too but using a rounded ladle really helps. Turning the tawa all around sounds like a good idea too — kinda like making a French crepe:)

    Madhuram, great idea to use cracked wheat– I gotta try that sometime.
    It’s certainly difficult getting around with little ones. Same goes for our canine and feline kids– leaving them behind in the boarding kennel is always a heartbreaking experience at the beginning of each trip, and it’s certainly reduced the number of road trips we make– that and the cost of daycare! :)

    Uma, Thanks!

    Jaya, good question. I sometimes end up having to make do with salads, but I do get vegan options in surprising places. For instance even some fast-food chains (I don’t usually eat there unless it’s on a road trip and there are no options) carry a veggie burger or veggie wrap or veggie sub and I can ask them to make it without cheese and mayo. Sometimes I make a great meal with sides. And although I know I shouldn’t, I’d be happy having french fries for lunch, dinner and breakfast! :)
    In bigger cities there are usually great options– in Raleigh this time I found a great restaurant which specifically offered lots of vegan choices, as did some restaurants in Charlotte and of course Atlanta.

    Claire, great suggestions, and thanks! Cumberland’s been on our must-go list for a while now but I did not know about Frostburg and the Gunter hotel. Sounds intriguing!

  6. says

    Vaishali,

    I made the moong dal dosas today for an evening snack and it ended up being our dinner. Thank you for a great, no fuss recipe. I did not have split moong dal but the whole moong worked just as well. :)

  7. says

    This not the mung dal dosai one is familiar with. The name should reflect the ingredients where it can.I am not being pedantic but the in a traditional mung dal dosai(in Tamilnadu) the main ingredient is mung dal not rice. In Andhra usually they use the mung with skin and the rice is minimal nad it is peserattu(pesara=payaru)

    • says

      Unknown, I try not to get hung up on traditions and titles when I cook. Traditional food is wonderful, but a creative cook is always looking to push the boundaries and come up with something even better.

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