Recipe and tips to make the perfect dosa
How to make the perfect dosa - Recipe and tips
I think I made my first dosai when I was in Class 9. Typically, my grandmother would make dosais for tiffin at least 1-2 days in a week. First she would prepare hot dosais for my grandfather and me and I would make for her. I'm grateful that she let practise my dosa making skills on her .
Watch my youtube video on tips to make the perfect dosa:
In our home, there was no special dosa batter. The same idli batter would be used for making dosai. So the day the idli batter was fermented and fresh, it would be made into idlis for the first (and sometimes the second) day. The day old batter would be used for dosai on the following day. And if the batter was still leftover after the third day, it would end up as an 'iluppuchatti dosai' - iluppuchatti being a cast iron kadai, where oil would be poured at the bottom and then the dosa batter ladled over it. This wouldn't be spread out, so the resultant dosai would be a thicker one with lots of bubbles as the batter would be more fermented, having sat around in the fridge for over 4 days. Sometimes, some extra flour would be added to the last dregs of batter and deep fried as 'bondas' - I haven't seen the leftover batter in this avatar too many times, but the few times it did happen, I remember that it was quite a delicious tiffin item. That was the life cycle of idli-dosa batter.
I remember as a kid, once on his trip from Madras to Bombay, my grandfather lugged this huge wet grinder (by train). Those days the wet grinders weighed a ton- none of the feather weight, fancy schmancy table top brands available these days. Once a week, the mornings or sometimes afternoons were dedicated to grinding idli batter so that evening tiffin and lunchboxes (if any) for most of the week were taken care of. The parboiled rice (ukhada chawal) was soaked separately. The udad dal was soaked with some fenugreek seeds. Both these would then be drained and ground separately in the wet grinder. The udad dal until it was a very fine satiny paste and the rice batter ground a little coarser. My granny would then mix both these batters along with some rock salt in a large vessel, exclusively reserved for this purpose. It would be covered with a lid and a muslin cloth and kept aside to ferment. She also had this theory that as the batter was mixed along with the salt by hand, some people's hand had a more souring effect than the others and the batter would ferment very quickly. Well, it's all wild yeast and I'm quite willing to buy that theory today.
How to make Molaga Podi / Gunpowder
I never invested in a wet grinder for my kitchen. My kitchens in Bombay and Hyderabad were painfully compact and by the time I moved to Bangalore, I quite mastered the idli-dosa batter in the mixer, thanks to my neighbour aunty in Hyderabad who shared her secrets with me. Here I share the same recipe with you.
Recipe for Idli / Dosa batter [In the mixer]
- Wash the udad dal and fenugreek seeds. Soak in plenty of water for 2 hours.
- Wash the idli rava and soak till immersed in water, at least for 30 minutes.
- Drain dal well and grind in the mixer until fluffy and soft, using upto 1/2 cup of water.
- Squeeze out excess water from the soaked idli rava and grind to a coarse batter. No need to add water to this.
- Remove both the batters into a large vessel. Mix well with your hand. Cover and keep aside for 6-10 hours until well risen / fermented. In summers it may take just 6 hours, while in winters, you may need to keep in a warm place like the oven, with the light turned on for extra warmth. These batters harness the power of naturally occurring wild yeast to rise.
- Once the batter is fermented, either refrigerate it or use it immediately to make idlis / dosas.
- I prefer not to add salt before fermentation. I take as much batter as is required for each batch of idlis / dosas and add the required salt just before using it.
To get crispier dosas, you can add some rice flour to the batter and mix well before using, as this batter yields very soft idlis because of high udad dal ratio. For dosas, you may need to up the rice ratio slightly.
If you have a wet grinder, you can increase the rice ratio to 4:1 - 4 parts parboiled rice to 1 part of udad dal. In the mixer, the rice to udad ratio is maximum 3:1.
Instead of idli rava, you can use special rice available for Idli / Dosa batter under the names, Idli rice / Dosa rice. You need to soak the rice for 4-5 hours at least and grindly fairly fine for dosa and coarser for idli, if you don't want an all purpose batter.
Tips to get the perfect dosa
The consistency of the batter is important. Too thin and the dosa will tear off into pieces, too thick and it will stick like a lump in your throat while eating. Dosa batter should be a little thinner than idli batter.
If you are a newbie, use a non-stick pan. It's the best way to start learning the techniques.
Keep the batter out at least 30-45 minutes before you prepare the dosas - chilled batter on hot tava may lead to scrambled dosas.
Grease the tava uniformly, with very little oil, smeared well with a tissue paper so there are no blobs of oil anywhere on the tava. This may also lead to incorrect spreading of the batter, as it will just slip away from the oil.
The tava should be hot, but not very hot. You should be able to keep your palm a few centimetres above the hot tava without getting burnt. Extremely hot tava will again lead to scrambled dosas, the extreme heat will prevent you from spreading out a uniform dosa.
Pour around 2 ladles of batter in the center and quickly start pushing it into concentric circles to get a proper, uniformly spread circle. You may now increase the heat slightly. Pour a tsp of oil all around the circumference. Once you see bubbles all around the circumference, and when you lift the dosa up slightly in one place, you see a golden brown colour, you can flip around. Pour tsp of oil around the sides and once you have a few golden spots on this side too, you can remove it on to a plate, folded in half.
My favourite way to eat dosai is with molagapodi and gingelly oil, another acquired taste for most people. My great grandmother used to make thicker dosais for herself, crumble the whole thing, add sugar, molagapodi, dahi and then eat the whole thing together. Trust me, this would taste so delicious that we, as kids, would finish our share of dosai and then hang around her plate to taste some of her dosai-dahi mix.
Dosa making does take some practise. It is infinitely simpler than learning to make perfectly round chapatis though. So if the dosas crumble or don't turn out in one piece during your practise sessions, you have my great grandmother's idea to fall back on.
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(c) Nandita Iyer 2006-2015