Ask any Mangalorean what combines well with a good Chicken/ Prawn Ghee roast and the immediate response would be “Neer Dosa“. This combination is a match made in heaven and nobody would deny that!
The name “Neer” means “water” in the Kannada and Tulu languages spoken in Southern India. These dosas with a dash of coconut give it added aroma and flavor. The batter for it is thin and when splashed onto a hot pan that is rotated to spread it around the pan, it becomes as thin as a crepe.
Like I mentioned before these go really well with a good Mangalore style Chicken/Prawn ghee roast but also pairs really well with any creamy coconut-based gravy. If you have a sweet tooth, you can fill these beauties with grated coconut filling sweetened with sugar/jaggery.
The Neer Dosa recipe varies from household to household but the main ingredients remain the same- Rice, Coconut, and water of course.
Every time I called mum and asked her for the recipe she’d just say do this, add this, do that and add that, never giving me the right ratios because that’s how the elder’s cook-by eyeballing the ingredients. So after multiple trials and a lot of failures, I found the right ratios that worked for me. Oh yes, I did dance a jig when I finally got it right!
Neer dosas are usually made using a rice variety called Sona Masuri but you can combine it with Dosa rice or use a combination of Dosa rice and Basmathi rice/ Zeera rice. OR you can make it using only Basmati Rice as I did.
250 gms Basmati rice
3/4 cup of coconut milk
Water to thin out the batter
Salt to taste
*If using a combination of two kinds of rice, use 125 gms of each.
*Add more coconut milk if you want a more prominent flavor.
*Add only little water while grinding the rice. If more is added the rice will not break down easily.
*Make sure the pan is hot and greased well before pouring the batter.
*If the batter doesn’t swirl around the pan easily or doesn’t form holes, thin out the batter by adding some more water but be careful while doing so. If the batter is made too thin then the dosas will crack.
*The number of dosas you make will depend on the size of your pan. I was able to make 12-15 Neer Dosas.
*You can also use a cast iron pan if you are comfortable doing so. However, I find a non-stick pan easier.
To make the batter:
Rinse the rice well. Soak the rice with enough water at room temperature overnight or for a minimum of 2-3 hours. Drain the water from the rice.
Transfer the rice into a high-powered blender or a grinder. Add the coconut milk, salt, and just enough water to grind the rice well. You may need to start and stop a few times to give your blender a break so the motor doesn’t burn out.
The mixture should be a cream-like texture. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and add water (little at a time) to make it thin. Stir well. The batter should now be of a flowing consistency.
To cook the Neer Dosa:
Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat (Check what works well for you). Add a drop of oil and brush it around the pan.
Give the batter a quick stir to ensure the rice and water haven’t separated. When the pan is hot, carefully pour the dosa batter into the frying pan (I prefer measuring out the batter in a cup to ensure even spreading of the batter but if using a spoon make sure you fill the gaps), tilting the pan as you go along for even spreading.
The dosa should be thin and will form holes as you spread it. If the batter is thick, the holes you need won’t be formed.
Don’t flip the dosa. It should only cook on one side.
When the sides of the dosa leave the sides of the pan and is thoroughly cooked, fold the dosa in half and then in half again so you have a neat triangle-like shape. Remove the dosa from the pan and place on a plate. Repeat this process for the remaining dosa batter.
Serve hot with a nice gravy of your choice!