Does anyone not like or know about dosa? There is not much introduction needed for this much loved universally known delicious fermented "pancake" from the Indian peninsula. Without much ado, I'll share my recipe that I've tweaked over 25 years with several insights from my own experiments, and advice from family members.
1cup whole white (dehusked) urad dalBlack gram. Important that it is the whole kind, and not split
3cupsrice (raw rice, pachcharisi)I use basmati rice, but any raw rice would work. I have used half brown and half white at times. Jasmine rice may not work.
1cuppar boiled riceYou can also use 4 cups of raw rice but I think having one cup of idli rice or short grain rice or parboiled rice (Ponni/Lakshmi are good brands) is good
1tbspvendhayam/methi/fenugreek seedsMakes for soft and golden dosas
2tbspChana dal/Bengal gramKadalai paruppu - gives it a golden color
1/2cupthin or thick poha
Water as needed to grind
Dosa is a 2 day process, but once you have a batch of batter made, you can enjoy it over the next several days in its several forms such as dosa, oothappam, paniyaram etc. On day 1, soak the dals and the rice separately in plenty of water, for about 4-6 hours.
Soak the urad dal, methi/vendhayam/fenugreek, chana dal together.
Soak the rices in one bowl.
Leave the poha alone for now.
I typically soak in the morning and grind in the evening, and its ready for next day's lunch or dinner.
The best dosa batter is made with a stone grinder like the one in the picture here. Most south Indian households have this tool in some size, shape or form - I have a smaller one which is light enough for me to handle, and it's ELECTRIC! I remember my younger days when my mom used the old manual grinder which is like a giant mortar and pestle.
If you don't have a grinder, a powerful blender would work. But the best dosas come out of the batter made with a stone grinder. If you are an idli/dosa/vada lover, it's a great investment to make!
Onto the batter:
Grind the urad dal (along with the methi/chana dal) first in the grinder, running the grinder with just a bit of water initially, and add the urad. Don't add a lot of water initially. Instead, sprinkle ice cold water as you grind. This process helps fluff up the urad.
The key to great dosa/idli/vada mostly lies in the quality of urad. The more you can get it to fluff up, and it's an art that you perfect with practice and patience, the better your dosa/idli/vada will be. So be patient, add sprinkles of cold water and watch the urad fluff up.
The quantity should double or triple, in about 10 minutes.
Remove to a big 5 or 6 quart pot. You can tell that the batter is really fluffy, the texture like butter.
Now start grinding the rice. With the rice, you just need to grind it to a very fine paste, adding as much water as you need, but not too much. I would start with less, and keep adding if I think it needs it.
This is an optional step: Towards the end of finishing up the rice, soak the poha for about 3 minutes in water, squeeze out the water, and add it to the batter and give it a good mix with the rice batter.
Remove the blended rice to the same pot with the urad
Most of the work is done at this point. You just need to let it ferment. It's now mostly your luck, the weather gods' mercy, and the dosa batter's temperament that will determine how well and how quickly the batter will ferment. But there are a few things you can do to tip things in your favor, and the dosa angel will smile at you.
1. I typically add a cup of very hot water to the batter, and give it a good whisk to get the fermentation going as warmth is a key factor
2. Some people swear by mixing it with your hands to help the fermentation as the bacteria in your hands apparently help
3. In the colder months/regions, you can keep the batter in a warm oven (either turn it on at 200 for a very short time, and turn it off, or keep the oven light on). With this, make sure you place a wide plate underneath in case it ferments too much and you wake up to an oven full of dosa batter overflow
4. Another key to fermentation is a light and airy batter - if it's too thick, it will not ferment so make sure it's in a pouring consistency
Day 2 - Making Dosa
Check out my fermented batter!
Thin the batter a bit if needed to a pouring consistency
Heat the pan. The best, golden, crispy dosas ONLY come out of cast iron pans. Non stick, while not healthy, also do not make golden dosas - the color is usually a bit pale. I am a bit of a purist as are many south Indians, as far as making dosas go. I might use a non stick in an emergency, but cast iron is my preferred pan. It does great in retaining heat, and is healthier.
If you use the same pan you use for rotis, there is a chance it's dried up. You will need to season it with oil, and test it with a small dosa first. You may also go over the pan with a cut up half onion to season it as you make dosas. Get it to the right temperature, and you're golden!
Pour one ladleful of batter, spread from the center to a bigger circle. Drizzle oil around the edge, and in the center, and cover it with a lid.
After a couple of minutes, remove the lid, and gently slide a spatula under the dosa from all sides, making sure it's not sticking at any point, then flip it. When you cook it covered with a lid, it doesn't require a lot of time to cook on the other side, and should get done in about a minute.
Flip, fold, and serve with your favorite sambar/chutney/podis.
Get the best urad dal possible - whole, dehusked
You can use a mix of raw rice, parboiled rice or just raw rice for dosa.
Methi is an important ingredient in dosa, try not to skip it
Poha helps in fermentation
Cast iron pans are best
Invest in a stone grinder readily available in the US these days and you'll reap the rewards every week with idli, dosa and vadai