Dosas are very thin pancakes usually made from rice and urad dhal (also known as split black lentils or black gram). This crepe-like food of India is very thin and crispy, with a taste similar to sourdough bread. Dosas can be made small, for individuals, or larger, for people to share. They are a good source of protein and are relatively easy to make.
- 2 cups rice, rinsed (recommended 1 cup medium-grained rice, 1 cup parboiled rice)
- 1/2 cup urad dhal, rinsed (split black lentils)
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (5-7 seeds)
- 1 tsp salt
Making the Batter
Soak the rice. After rinsing the rice, place it in a large bowl and cover with water. Ideally, there should be about 2 inches of water above the surface of the rice to allow for absorption. Soak for about 6 hours.
Soak the urad dhal (also known as black gram, black lentil) and fenugreek. After rinsing the dahl, place it in a large bowl with the fenugreek seeds and cover with water. Ideally, there should be about 2 inches of water above the surface of the rice to allow for absorption. Soak for about 6 hours.
Grind the urad dhal and fenugreek. A wet grinder is the best option for this, but a food processor or blender may work as well. Add the soaked dhal one handful at a time into the grinder.
Grind the rice. You do not need to wash the grinder between grinding the dahl and the rice. Add all of the rice and one cup of the water that the rice soaked in to the grinder and grind for 20 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth but gritty.
Combine the rice batter and the urad dhal. Place the rice batter into the bowl with the dahl, add the salt, and combine all of the ingredients by mixing them with your (clean!) hands. Cover loosely with a cloth or a lid that is not air-tight.
Allow the batter to ferment. The mixture now needs to ferment by sitting in a warm place for 8-10 hours.
Check the batter. After 8-10 hours, check the batter. It should have a frothy appearance, and it should have grown twice its original size. If it has not, you may need to leave it a little longer. If the batter is too thick to allow for pouring, add some water
Refrigerate the batter until you are ready to cook. Ideally, you should try to cook the batter after it has had time to ferment, but if you need time between the fermentation and the cooking, place the batter in your fridge.
Preparing to Cook
Bring the batter to room temperature. If you have refrigerated your batter, you will need to remove it from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least an hour. The dosas work better with room-temperature batter.
Heat the cooking surface. Bring the cooking surface up to temperature for about 10 minutes with medium heat. An appropriate cooking surface would be a nonstick skillet, an iron griddle, or a flat tawa (Pan)
Season the cooking surface. The best way to prepare and season the cooking surface for making dosas is to pour a few drops of oil on a cut onion and rub the onion with pressure around the pan. You may find that you need to adjust the amount of oil depending on the cooking surface that you use, but one or two drops should be enough.
Decide what size you want to make your dosas. The size of your dosas will be, in part, determined by the limitations of your cooking surface. Dosas can be made small, for individuals, or larger, to share. If you plan to make larger, shareable dosas, you will need to double the amount of batter you use for each one.
Cooking the Dosas
Spread the batter. Scoop about ¼ of a cup of the batter out (preferably with a ladle) and pour it into your pan. Use the bottom of the ladle to spread the batter out by starting in the middle and spiraling the ladle outward until the batter has spread to the edges of the pan. You shouldn’t need to put much pressure on the ladle.
Allow the batter to cook. Cook until the bottom of the batter has browned to your preference and the top has become firm. You may see bubbles emerge and then pop, leaving small holes on the top of your dosa.
Flip the dosa if desired. This step is optional because the thin batter cooks all the way through from the bottom, but if you would like extra-crispy dosas, you can flip them and cook the top side for about 40 seconds.
Lift the dosa off of the cooking surface. Use a spatula (be sure to use one that will not damage your cooking surface) to remove the dosa from the heat. Use caution not to break the dosa (for aesthetic purposes—it would still taste great!)
Fold the dosa while it is still hot. Dosas can be served folded in half or rolled.This should be done immediately to avoid cracking or breaking.
Repeat the process. Continue to make dosas until you run out of batter. You may want to serve each one as it is ready. If you wish to wait until they are all ready to serve them, place cooked dosas on a plate or platter in the oven set to “warm” with a damp cloth over them to keep them from drying out.
Serving the Dosas
Pair with a variety of chutneys. Traditional dosa recipes call for it to be served with coconut chutney and sambar. Tomato chutney and cilantro chutney are also good options. At least two options for dipping are preferable
Try other kinds of dips. Though this is an Indian dish, dosas do not have to be served with chutney. You can try other dips, such as hummus, spinach dip, or even guacamole for a little Indian-Mexican fusion!
Serve fresh and warm. These delicate crepes are best if fresh off the griddle, so try to time your meal so that you are ready to eat as soon as they are cooked.
Freeze extras if necessary. While fresh dosas are best, if you have leftover dosas and do not wish to discard them, try freezing them. They can then be reheated on a skillet. It may be better to freeze them flat (without folding them).