The Dosa is a traditional South Indian favourite, which is now enjoyed all over India. It is hard to resist that aromatic, paper thin, crisp and golden brown snack, but most people shy away from trying their hand at making it, due to the popular misconception that it takes time to first soak the ingredients and then ferment them.
Also, dosa-making looks hard, seeming to require a certain degree of skill. Well, here’s an easy guide to making dosas which will make you look like a pro! The secret to making great dosas is also contained here in the recipe. The recipe is for a plain dosa. You can choose to fill it with boiled and mashed potatoes, which have been cooked with fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and cumin seeds, and sliced or diced onions.
The Ingredients are:
(This will cater for about 15 dosas)
1 cup parboiled rice (also called sela chawal in hindi)
(Most people use ordinary rice. Using parboiled rice ensures that the dosas are crisper because it contains gelatinized starch)
½ cup split black gram dal (dhuli urad dal in hindi)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dana in hindi)
(Fenugreek seed help in quicker and better fermentation, and add flavor)
2 tsp salt
Oil for cooking
Soak the rice along with the fenugreek seeds in a pan. Soak the dal separately. Let the rice and the dal soak overnight or for at least a couple of hours. In winter, overnight would be necessary. In summer, even about 4-6 hours would be fine. Grind the dal first in a mixer, with just enough water, till it looks like a fine, bubbly paste. Remove from the mixer with the help of a rubber spatula. Do not worry of a little dal remains sticking to the mixer.
Now grind the rice and fenugreek mixture with a little more water than was used for the dal batter, till it is coarsely ground. This batter should be more watery than the dal paste. Now combine the two batters into a pot which is twice the volume of the combined batter, as the batter will rise considerably when it ferments. Add the salt, and mix well. Cover the pot, and leave the mixture to ferment overnight in winter, and just about 4 hours in summer.
Now your dosa batter is ready. When you uncover the pot, you will see that the batter has risen and smells sour. This is normal. Gently mix the contents with a big spoon. You can either use the batter straightaway, or leave it in an airtight box in the refrigerator to use later. Dosa batter will easily keep for a week in the refrigerator.
To make the Dosas, take a good quality non-stick flat griddle or pan. Light the flame underneath, and put it on low setting.. Lightly smear it with oil, then dab at it with a paper towel or napkin, so that just a sheen of oil is present. You can also use an onion cut into two for this purpose. Stick a knife into an onion cut in half, and rub over the flat pan. This will prevent the dosa from sticking when cooked. Keep the oil handy in a little bowl, along with a spoon.
Now put the flame on high. Take a large spoon of batter, and drop it gently in the middle of the pan. Do not be in a hurry to spread it out. Doing so will only ruin the shape of the dosa, and make it of uneven thickness.
Gently, with the bottom of the spoon, make concentric circles starting from the centre of the dollop of batter, and moving outwards. Keep moving the spoon in little circles. Slowly, a thin, rapidly cooking ring of batter will appear in the centre. Keep moving outward, till the dosa is spread thinly in a large circle. Do not take it to the edges of the pan. If it is going till the edge, use a little less batter next time.
Turn the flame on low. After about a minute, pour a spoonful of oil on the dosa and along the sides. This will make it golden brown, and easy to just lift up when it is ready. This should take another two minutes or so, or slightly more on a low flame, if you like your dosa very crisp.
When the edges start curling, and appear golden brown, the dosa is ready to be folded. Either fold it in half, or double-fold it by folding in from both sides. Usually, when making a Masala Dosa with the potatoes mixture inside, it would be preferable to fold it in from both sides to make it look more attractive, and keep the mixture in.
Take out the dosa on to a plate. Your crisp and golden brown dosa is now ready to eat. You should dosas with the traditional coconut chutney and the tasty sambhar, the sour dal with vegetables. Happy cooking!
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