The cook knows exactly how much pressure to use on the flat top grill at Sankalp, a major Indian restaurant chain with its first U.S. location in Schaumburg. He's making dosa, a thin crepe made from lentils and rice.
"We have a special grinding machine that we need to grind in order to make it into a batter, and then it gets spread onto a griddle. It's really crispy, thin layer," said co-owner Jigar Patel.
At Sankalp, they first draw a line of garlic chutney through the middle of the dosa, before adding their fillings, which are traditionally vegetarian, such as mashed potatoes embedded with onions and spices. A handful of fresh cilantro is sprinkled over the top, then it's rolled up and served hot. They also offer a few vegetarian alternatives, like paneer, a homemade cheese version with peppers.
"We also have about four different non-veg dosas. Chicken, we have prawn, we have lamb," Patel said.
Dosa come in different shapes, such as pyramid, tubular, or even gargantuan four-footers that extend beyond the width of the table.
The crispy dosa is torn by hand and then dipped into one of four chutneys, including green coconut or garlic. A cool mango lassi is a great drink to go along with it, since there's also a fiery soup served with the dosa.
"And then we have a lentil soup, which is called sambar, so it gets served with the [dosa]," said Patel.
Just about any south Indian-style restaurant will carry dosas.
You can also find the batter pre-made and sold in stores like Patel Brothers, which has locations in Hanover Park, Schaumburg and West Rogers Park, if you want to try to make them yourself at home.
Sankalp 167 W.Golf Rd, Schaumburg (847) 490-4444 http://sankalprestaurants.com/
Patel Brothers Markets: 2410 Army Trail Road Hanover Park,Illinois 60133 630-213-2222
2610 W. Devon Avenue Chicago,Illinois 60659 773-262-7777
873 E. Schaumburg Road Schaumburg,Illinois 60193 847-524-1111