Mappilai Samba Murungayila Dosa is a mouthful if you don’t understand Tamil. Mappilai Samba is a red coloured variety of heritage rice from Tamilnadu. Murungayila refers to the leaves of the Moringa/ Drumstick tree. So this is a recipe for a savoury rice and lentil crepe of sorts, with fresh Moringa leaves. In South India, the Moringa tree is common and the regional cuisines cook with the tender leaves, fruit and flowers of the tree. The health benefits of Moringa leaves and fruit have been long known. The leaves have to be used the same day as they are plucked as they wilt and lose their freshness very quickly.
The Moringa fruit or drumsticks as they’re known, are used in curries and especially in Sambhar. Sambhar without drumsticks is never quite the same. The leaves can be cooked in many ways. The leaves added to Dosa batter is one way we use them. A Dosa is a savoury South Indian crepe of sorts. It is made from a fermented batter of soaked rice and skinned black gram lentils. A Dosa can be anywhere from a thin and crisp crepe to a slightly thicker and spongy almost-pancake. This Mappilai Samba Murungayila Dosa is somewhere in between.
I am part of a group of bloggers and food aficionados who are interested in Indianheritage rices. As a result, I have discovered rices that I didn’t know of earlier. Mappilai Samba rice happens to be one such variety which was a gift from a good friend. This rice is native to the South Indian state of Tamilnadu. Now Mappilai means bridegroom and this rice is sometimes referred to as Bridegroom Rice.
Folklore has it that this rice was fed to bridegrooms in particular, hence the name. In the olden days when men came looking for brides, they were tested for their intelligence, courage and physical strength. The best men won their brides! One test required prospective bridegrooms to display their strength by lifting a very heavy round stone. The consumption of the nutritious and strength building Mappilai Samba rice was supposed to help. Mapillai Samba is known to be rich in iron and zinc and fibre. It is believed that drinking the water used to wash the rice helps cure mouth and stomach ulcers.
I had Mappilai Samba rice on hand so I used it. This rice is highly nitritious and to the taste of the Dosa. You can substitute for the Mappilai Samba with any raw red rice or even white rice (unprocessed i.e., not steamed or par-boiled) you have on hand instead. Mappilai Samba, like other unmilled (unpolished) or partially milled rice is richer in fubre. This means it needs to be soaked longer than white rice to soften it, typically 5 to 6 hours. The Dosa is easy enough to make. The preparation of the batter takes a little time but not all that much work. Most of the time is passive with soaking the rice and lentils and waiting for the batter to ferment.
Typically, Indians use a wet grinder to grind batters for Idli and Dosa. You can also use a mixer-grinder to grind this batter. If so, use chilled water to ensure the batter doesn’t heat up during the grinding process.
I typically soak the rice at about 3pm and the lentils at 6pm on the first day. I grind the batter at about 9pm and leave it for overnight fermentation, covered, on my kitchen counter. Usually, the batter is fermented by about 6am next morning. I then mix in the salt and refrigerate the batter if I’m not using it immediately. Fermentation times will depend on the season and ambient temperatures in your kitchen. Hot summers means faster fermentation while it will take more time in cooler weather.
Please note that this recipe makes a large quantity of batter. This batter can be used as it is to make Dosa, without Moringa leaves. So once the batter is made, take about 1/3rd to 1/2 of it, and mix in the 2 cups Moringa. This should serve roughly about 4 people. You can refrigerate the remaining batter for later use. The batter will keep for a week refrigerated.
The important thing about Moringa leaves is to use the tender or newer leaves. They taste much better. The older leaves tend to be bitter-ish and their stems are fibrous and tend to not cook and stay “pokey”. Prepping the leaves takes a little times. The leaves have to be removed from the main stems, making sure there are no pokey bits left.
Important : See this video if you’re new to making Dosa.