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Dosa (a rice and lentil based recipe)

After going back and forth between different rice varieties, lentil variations, and fermentation methods I’ve finally come to a dosa recipe that creates a crispy and tangy flavor.

The ingredients for making dosa are minimal and simple; it’s more about the process with this recipe. Using the right bowl, heat, ladle, and pan all matter. Don’t worry, the notes I’ve made here are VERY detailed which I hope makes creating this classic South Indian recipe a lot easier.

P.S. There are a lot of varieties and methods of making dosa. This is just one version of how to make dosa.

I can’t wait for you to make this and dunk it in some sambar and coconut chutney!

If you decide to make this tag me @thefamiliarkitchen on Instagram or comment below with how this turns out for you 🙂 If you’re on instagram, I have a highlight saved on my page as “dosa things” where you can see some of the behind the scenes videos of how I make dosa.

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OVERALL TIPS TO MAKE A GOOD BATTER

  1. Getting the batter to ferment can be a finicky process, especially considering all the factors that can affect the process. Here are some general tips:
    • In some places, water can be “hard” which can kill natural yeast from forming in your batter. If you think that’s an issue for you, use filtered water.
    • The batter needs to be the right consistency of coarse. I use a Preethi Exo Twin Mixie to get my batter to be smooth (with a little grit in it).
    • I like to reserve the water I used for soaking both my rice and lentils to use in blending the ingredients. This water has starch in it which supports fermentation.
    • I always grind my rice first and then grind the lentils+fenugreek separately. There are many thoughts on if this is needed, but this is my tried and true process of making the batter.
    • The batter craves warmth so I usually keep my batter in the oven with nothing but the oven light on to help it ferment. Additionally, after the batter is made, I will use an immersion blender or my hands to mix the batter to run some more warmth through the batter.
    • If you don’t live in a warm climate or have an oven light, a heating pad on low setting is reliable.
    • The Instant Pot on the “yogurt” setting is also effective from what I have heard (I have not tested this since I don’t own an IP)
    • The batter consistency should be pourable. If it is too thick and gloppy, it won’t have room to rise. If it’s too thin, it just won’t rise well. It’s like a slightly thinner pancake better.
    • I only add salt AFTER the batter has fermented. Salt can slow down fermentation so it’s a safer bet to add afterwards.
    • Worst case scenario if you’ve fermented your batter for the max 48 hours (ideally it’s rise in 12-24 hours), then you can salvage your batter by mixing 2 tbsp warm water 1 tsp sugar + 1 tsp yeast
    • Adding a little sugar to your fermented batter can help give the brown color when making the dosa (so can adding about 1/4 cup chana dal when soaking and mixing)
    • I simply use a crepe pan for making dosa
    • I like brushing my dosa pan with ghee, spreading it out, and then running some more ghee around the edges of the dosa

INGREDIENTS

  • Idli Rice, 1 1/2 cups
  • Urad Dal, 1/2 cup
  • Fenugreek Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Salt, 1/2 tbsp

HOW TO MAKE IT

Soak. Grab two mixing bowls. In bowl #1, add the idli rice. In bowl #2, add the urad dal and fenugreek seeds. Do not overwash/rinse the rice and lentils. You can give a quick rinse then fill each bowl with enough room temperature water to cover the rice and urad dal. Let this soak for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Blend. Drain and separately keep the water from both bowls. In a blender, add the soaked urad dal and fenugreek seeds along with about 3/4 cup of the soaking water. Blend this until smooth then pour into a large plastic mixing bowl. Now add the soaked idli rice into the blender along with about 1/2 cup water. Blend this until smooth. There will be some grit in the rice batter which is totally ok. Pour the rice batter into the bowl with the urad dal batter. Mix this together really well. The consistency should be slightly thick, but pourable.

Ferment. If you live in a warm climate, you might not need to do this, but place a lid on top of the mixing bowl and then put the bowl in the oven with just the oven lights on. DO NOT TURN ON THE OVEN. The heat from the oven light should give enough warmth for the batter to ferment. Let this sit in the oven for 10-12 hours or overnight. *This may require a longer fermenting time if you live in a colder climate. After fermenting, your batter should have risen double to triple in size and will look somewhat frothy on top with little holes/bubbles. This is a sign that your batter has fermented nicely.

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If you’re on IG, go to my highlights section under “Dosa Things” to watch me make the dosa. 

Cook. To prepare your batter, mix it really well along with about a 1/2 tbsp of salt. Grab a flat round skillet (non-stick or cast iron) and lightly brush it with ghee or oil. Using a round bottom flat ladle, pour about 1/3 cup batter to the center of the skillet. Lightly press the bottom of the ladle on the center of the batter and make circle with it until you see an indented circle form. Continue to move the circles wider and out to the edge of the pan. I like to press all the way to the edges of my batter to form a thin/crispy edge. The end result should look like a slightly thin and round dosa with “rings” inside. Add ghee to the edges and sparingly throughout the center of the dosa. When the edges of the dosa begin to slightly lift off the pan, fold it over in half. You can also roll up the dosa. Done!

Notes:

  1. Because I live in a colder climate, I prefer using a plastic mixing bowl because it isn’t as sensitive to cold temps as a steel or glass bowl.
  2. Overwashing your rice and lentils can affect the fermentation process. We need some of the starchiness from the water to help. 
  3. If your oven light doesn’t produce enough heat for the oven, you can turn on the oven to its lowest setting for about 5-10 minutes then turn it off. When the oven has cooled down slightly THEN place the mixing bowl inside to let it ferment. 
  4. You do not need to flip your dosa and cook the other side, especially for thin dosas. If you’re making thicker dosas, you can flip it. 
  5. For urad dal, I use the Laxmi or Deep Foods brand. For the Idli Rice, I use the Laxmi brand. 

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