Updated: Apr 25, 2021
The French have crepes, the Chinese jian bing, the US pancakes, and India has the fabulous dosa. The famous “paper dosa” is delicate, super thin crepe, cooked in ghee or butter and my absolute favorite. If you have yet to have one, go out and get one today! Here is a video of a street vendor in India making dosas.
However, the dosa belongs to a large family of foods that include the paper thin dosa to softer pancakes made from a variety of lentils with rice, the thicker oothapams, the delicate egg appams from Sri Lanka, and the lentil adais. There are literally 100’s of recipes from all of South India.
Dosas can come in two major groups, fermented and ready. The fermented variety have a very delicate sourness to the dosa, while the non-fermented variety are usually lentil based.
I chose this recipe because it has very little rice. It is also filled with spices which adds to the flavor matrix. I served it with coconut chutney, sambhar and chilli podi.
This is another fabulous cookbook from this author. It focuses on dosas, oothapams, adais and appams, with lots of recipes from all the southern states in India, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. A must for any household where dosas feature regularly.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
Ingredients: For 14-16 dosas
1 1/2 cups mung bean flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1 small onion, finely minced
2 chilies, minced, or to taste
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 sprig curry leaves, minced or left whole
Salt to taste
1 1/2+ water
Oil or ghee for frying
Mix all the ingredients, except oil, add the water and mix. You should get a thick batter, about the consistency of heavy cream. Adjust the consistency as needed.Occasionally, I puree this batter with an hand blender for a smoother batter, though this step is not required. I find that the intensity of the herbs is amplified if I puree the mix.
Heat a non-stick pan on medium high. Splash a drop of water, It should sizzle and almost immediately evaporate.
Make the dosa as described, see notes below, this dosa will not be super thin. Drizzle some oil on the batter and allow to cook till you see the air bubbles pop and from tiny holes in the dosa and the thinner areas and edges begin to brown in spots, about 1-1.5 minutes. Flip gently and cook for 1 minute. Serve immediately with sambhar and chutneys.
Notes on making dosas:
Making dosas are an art form, but they are not that hard to learn. Here are some tips on make them perfect. It does take some practice, but once you get it, usually on your second or third dosa, it is super simple. 1) Heat the pan till very hot, usually on medium high. Let the pan heat up evenly for about 3-4 minutes. When you splash a small drop of water it should sizzle and evaporate almost immediately. 2) The prefect “hot” on the pan allows the batter to spread evenly and in a thin layer. If the pan is too cool, the dosas are thicker, and if it is too hot, the dosas will rip while you are spreading them out. 3) Use a non-stick pan. Just so much easier. Also you use a fraction of the oil, so the dish is so much healthier. 4) Add a 1/4 cup of batter to the center of the non-stick pan. Using a round bottomed large soup ladle, silicone of course. Spread the batter out starting at the center and working your way out in small concentric circles. Don’t rush it, you have the time, spread the batter out in small circles till is all spread out evenly. Remember, once you start spreading outward, you cannot stop or go backward. This motion has to be smooth and continuous. Here is a good video. However, I tend to get the ridges smaller and the dosa more even, that will come with time and practice.
5) Use gentle pressure to spread the batter, the pressure will depend on the batter type and the thinness you want the dosa to be. Too much pressure will cause the batter to either rip or create vacant spots. Too little pressure will give you a thicker dosa. 6) If the dosa is ripping when you spread it out, either the pan is too hot or you are using too much pressure. Adjust your technique as needed.
7) Drizzle some oil or ghee. This is important to "fry" the batter and brown it evenly. It will also help to detach the dosa from the pan so it is easier to flip. 8) Flipping the dosa is easy and about confidence. Remember you are using a non-stick pan, and have drizzled some oil. When you see that the dosa is browning in spots and the edges have lifted off the pan, which means that the dosa is not stuck. Use the spatula to get under it and flip in a smooth motion, just as you would for a pancake. Super easy, trust me.