Product Review: Ninja Mega Kitchen system and a recipe for Masala Dosa
One of the biggest reasons for attending conferences is the priceless experience of meeting fellow bloggers and get an invaluable exposure to all things culinary. This includes vendors with new products to savor and get inspiration from.
I had no complaints about whatever appliances I had for making traditional Dosa (Traditional South Indian rice & lentil crepes) batter, a sturdy tabletop stone grinder that you could add the Urad dal, turn the timer on , and 30 minutes later, come back to a container full of fluffy, batter with the consistency of whipped egg whites. The
The cons of this is the cleaning up, of the various parts, the roller, the grinding bin, the multiple trays on which the rollers need to be placed while transferring the rice & lentil batter, the invariable drips of thick batter on the counter.... you get the point, It takes quite a bit of time.
I was pleasantly surprised when the appliance company, Ninja asked me if I'd like to try any of their appliances (the Ninja team at BlogHer Food '13 were real stars in terms of the delicious food samples they made on site). I accepted their offer and picked the Mega Kitchen system. Unlike smaller passive gadgets such as scoops & knives, Electrical appliances cannot be verified with one successful try. I had to run the machine through multiple testing sessions before I could bring myself to vouch for it (even though , the delighted cook within me was already raving about the machine to anyone who listened).
In my opinion, Dosa batter is definitely one of the toughest tasks that any kitchen blending system can be tested with. First, soaked, hydrated rice turns to the consistency of concrete when blended and this puts quite some strain on the motor. The Urad lentils have a glutinous texture and grinding this to a smooth paste is non trivial, let alone eventually whipping the batter into a light airy texture.The aerating part seems to be tackled perfectly by the design if the blender has to survive for a number of years in a traditional Indian Kitchen. (we Indians lay a lot of emphasis & importance on the durability factor).
In Ninja's blender jar, 6 blades (which can be removed for cleaning easily) stacked up over each other ensure that the lentils & rice are pulverized with out having to go through that whirlpool motion of the conventional models that draw the ingredient down. The Ninja system packs a punch in terms of power - 1500 watts of power.
The entire system consists of a Large blender jar (which I've been regularly using for making Dosa batter), a dough & food processor attachment, and a small single serve smoothie attachment which I find perfect for grinding masalas & dry spices such as the classic Milaga Podi (pictured above).
New York Times had published an article last year about pairing Dosas with Champagne, and of course, I simply HAD to test it for myself. The yummy (and pleasantly tipsy) brunch that followed the photography session verified NYTimes claim to a T, with the emphasis that it paired best with Dosas made with Ghee instead of sesame oil (as the regular day to day breakfast menu goes). While the recipe below describes the traditional way of dosais, I opted to make miniature versions of the dosas topped with a marble sized scoop of the Masala.
- 1.5 cups Jasmine rice
- 1/2 cup Spilt dehusked Urad Dal
- 1 teaspoon Salt.
- Melted ghee (for drizzling over the dosai) and Sesame oil (for brushing over the griddle)
- Rinse & soak the rice & lentils separately in plenty of water for about 2 hours (preferably overnight).
- Grind the rice to a thick paste in a blender. Transfer to a large container. Repeat with the lentil, taking care to add sufficient water while blending to obtain a batter which is somewhat fluffy in consistency. (like beaten egg whites). Combine the rice & the urad batters with the salt taking care to mix well using your hands (yeah , its messy, & the batter isn't even worth licking!).
- Cover & place in the oven with the light switched on over night. Alternatively bloom a packet of yeast in warm water and add to the batter. Allow to rest for an hour. Mix well before making the dosai.
- Heat a cast iron griddle. Add a teaspoon of oil & wipe it using a paper towel. When the pan gets really hot, pour about 3 oz of the batter in the center & spread it around using the rounded side of the ladle. Drizzle with 1/2 a teaspoon of sesame oil. (the batter will bubble up leaving nooks & crannies on the surface. when the lower side begins to turn golden brown carefully flip the dosai over & cook till the other side turns a similar color. Serve with your choice of chutney, or jam, or even just a dollop of yogurt.
- For making dosais with the potato filling, spread the batter on the griddle & drizzle with the melted ghee. (Cover with a large lid & allow the top side to steam cook.). Remove the lid, and place a scoop (ice cream scoop ) of the potato masala in the center. Using the spatula, gently roll the dosai around the filling. (Like rolling a burrito, but without tucking the sides in, I guess like a cannoli). serve with your choice of chutney, or sambhar.
- 4 large idaho potatoes, boiled & peeled
- 1 large onion, quartered & thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
- 1 jalapeno, deseeded & finely chopped
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
- crumble the boiled & peeled potatoes. Set aside
- Heat the oil in a skillet, when it just begins to smoke, add the mustard & cumin seeds & allow to sputter. Add the curry leaves and the onion. saute till the onion turns translucent.
- Add the crumbled potatoes, salt and turmeric powder. Sprinkle with some water, stir, lower the heat, cover & cook till the flavors combine. remove from heat, add the lime juice.
The Ninja Mega Kitchen System is available online via their website , or Amazon.com ( Ninja Mega Kitchen System - Model BL771 ) or at any retailer in the United States or Canada.
A big Thank you to the folks, especially Sarah Knutson at Ninja Kitchen Systems for the opportunity to test this appliance!