Dosa cooking advice?
November 7, 2011 2:15 PM   Subscribe

I am planning to make dosa for the first time this weekend, with perhaps a foray into uttapam. I have appropriate ingredients (and access to an Indian grocery), but no special equipment. Help me make them the best they can be!

I have dried split skinless urad dal, various kinds of rice (brown long and short, white short), fenugreek seeds, a bazillion onions, and generally a fully-stocked kitchen and spice drawer. Grinding equipment is limited to a food processor, though if a standard blender would be better, I've been planning to replace my broken one anyway. I've got a 9-inch cast iron skillet and a somewhat smaller nonstick pan for frying.

I am also full of questions: Can I make dosa and uttapam the same day from the same batch, or does uttapam have to ferment longer? Which pan? Oil or no oil in the pan? Does rubbing a cut onion on it help? Do I need poha? How do I make the really crispy paper style? Any and all tips would be helpful.
posted by expialidocious to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You have great timing - I'm also planning my first batch of dosas this weekend - using this recipe.
posted by leslies at 2:22 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

The trick to getting them to be golden and crispy is to get them really really thin. Place a small amount of the batter in the middle of the pan, and then quickly spread the batter out in a spiral motion from the center. The amount used in making american-style pancakes will make about 5-8 dosa, start with just a couple of tablespoons and work your way up. If you do a Google image search for dosa you'll see that spiral pattern (sorry leslies, but those pictured in your recipe look way too white and thick).
I've found the best pan for cooking them on is a well-seasoned cast-iron griddle. Anything with high sides gets in the way. A slight brush of oil in the pan, and if it's sticking then a couple of drops on the edge of the dosa and then tilt the pan. It takes some practice to get it right.
posted by Runes at 3:13 PM on November 7, 2011

i think blending works better, but definitely blend/process in small batches. if you don't, you'll end up with lumpy batter. smootheness is key. +1 on pouring it thin and spiraling, etc. you want to keep it thin enough so it cooks through. you're not supposed to flip it. practice with small ones first.
posted by maulik at 3:24 PM on November 7, 2011

Wow, there's a lot of crappy video's about making dosa on the net, but about 4 minutes into thisone shows the spiral technique.
posted by Runes at 3:25 PM on November 7, 2011

If you use a nonstick pan, you only need to oil it very lightly the first time if at all, and then spread the batter very thinly, like Runes said, in a spiral pattern. Then for every dosa, take a tablespoon or less of oil and pour around the edge shortly before you take it off the pan, this will help get the edge nice and crispy! Also, the first one never turns out right, so plan to toss it or eat it while cooking the rest and don't get discouraged.

If you can find a square nonstick pan, like a thin lipped griddle, that would allow for better spreading and a thinner dosa than a smaller round pan - because you can spread it as thin as you want without constraints.
posted by echo0720 at 7:26 PM on November 7, 2011

Runes - no sorry needed - is there a recipe you'd recommend more?
posted by leslies at 7:33 PM on November 7, 2011

I cheat. I have a local Indian grocery where I can buy the batter that's made by the better local South Indian restaurant, I haven't made it from scratch in quite some time. I'll see if I can get you a decent recipe.
posted by Runes at 11:24 AM on November 8, 2011

I put the word out, and received the following recipe. Obviously I haven't tried it yet, but the source is a very very good South Indian cook.

So,my dosa is low carb and foolproof.
Soak 1 part urid dal and 1 part moong dal for about 6hrs. yYou may also a tsp. or 2 of methi (fenugreek) seeds as it regulates
carb. metabolism
Grind it in the blender with plenty of water.( I use my magic bullet)

Add 2 part rice flour in a large bowl+ ground dal with enough water to make a pancake batter thickness
You may use warm water to blend and mix in winter.
Cover with a lid , wrap in a towel and leave it in a warm place overnight or 6-8 hrs for it to rise
Add a little bit of salt and mix well before making super crisp dosa!
posted by Runes at 6:12 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

This video shows good recipes and techniques in making different types of dosa. For "plain dosas", just ignore the "masala" in masala dosa recipes. Masala here refers to the curry made of potatoes and layered on top of the dosa (possibly to provide carbs in breakfast.
posted by theobserver at 8:25 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

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