Dosa batter step-by-step recipe with photos.
What is dosa
A dosa (pronounced 'dosey' or 'dosai') is a rice pancake, originating from South India, made from a fermented batter. It is somewhat similar to a crepe in appearance. Its main ingredients are rice and urad dal (black gram), ground together in a fine, smooth batter, then fermented.
Dosas are a common part of the diet in South India but have become popular all over India and also in Indian restaurants outside of India. Traditionally, dosas are served hot along with sambar (dal) and chutney.
What is dosa batter
Dosa batter is the fermented batter used to make dosai. Rice and urad dal (skinned black lentils) are the main ingredients to make it. These, along with poha (flattened rice or rice flakes), fenugreek seeds, and chana dal (split yellow peas) are washed, soaked, and ground, which is then fermented for several hours.
It is really easy to make it, with most of the time involved being the fermentation time (resting time). Having it at hand can be a life-saver and it comes in very handy not just for breakfast, but also for a quick lunch/dinner, and lunch boxes.
The batter itself can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Make it on the weekend and use it throughout the week. I have also tried freezing the batter and it works really well for up to three months. It is very important to defrost it completely before using it.
Rice: Short-grain Indian variety rice is used. Here I have used sona masuri.
Dal: Urad dal (skinned black gram) is a key ingredient. Along with it, a small amount of chana dal (split yellow peas) is also used.
Fenugreek seeds: This helps in the batter fermentation.
Poha: (flattened rice or rice flakes) Red or white thick poha must be used to make the batter.
Wash and soak urad dal, chana dal, and fenugreek seeds in a bowl. Wash and soak rice in another bowl. Soak poha two hours before grinding (step 1).
Grind the rice and poha first and transfer it to a bowl. Next, grind the dal. I am using a stone grinder, however, a good blender will also do (step 2).
Mix the batter well with clean hands (step 3).
Let the batter sit for fermentation (step 4). See tips section below for useful tips to ferment the dosa batter perfectly.
What to serve with dosa
Dosa is usually accompanied by lots of ghee and butter, chutney/chutney powder, along with sambar. These accompaniments bring a host of health benefits.
Ghee and Butter: Apart from the nutrients in ghee and butter, they help in reducing the Glycemic Index of the meal thus preventing the roller coaster of high and low sugar typically associated with a high carb meal. Fenugreek seeds are added to the dosa/idli batters which are said to help in moderating blood sugar.
Chutney: One of the most common chutneys associated with dosa idli is the coconut chutney which is almost always served in all restaurants along with dosa and idli. Read my blog post on this chutney to discover the health benefits.
Sambar: Sambar is a South Indian style dal made with pigeon pea (toor dal), vegetables, and spices. When served with dosa, it adds protein to the meal making it wholesome.
Useful tips to make perfect dosa batter
The measurements in this recipe will give 20-25 dosas, depending on the size and thickness. The batter itself will be around 16-18 cups, depending on the water used for grinding and the amount of aeration the batter has.
Soaking and grinding:
Soak the dal and rice in filtered water where possible. The chlorine in tap water inhibits the growth of bacteria. This is particularly important in cold regions and if you are making dosa for the first time.
Wash the dal and rice thoroughly before soaking in water. Also, it is important to soak them separately as they have different textures and need different grinding times. We want the dal to be light and fluffy, which cannot be achieved if we grind it with the rice.
Grind the rice and poha first and transfer it to a bowl. Depending on the size of your grinder, grind them in small batches.
Always add water in small batches as needed. The consistency must be similar to pancake batter.
After grinding everything, give it a good mix with your hands. Mixing them with hands is a key step that helps in the fermentation of the batter and cannot be skipped.
Dosa batter must be fermented in complete darkness. Do not use transparent vessels for fermentation. For example, clear glass or plastic vessels will not give you a well-fermented batter. Traditionally, it is fermented overnight in steel vessels covered with a loose-fitting steel lid.
The temperature at which dosa batter ferments best is quite high (around 95 F to 105 F or 35 C to 40 C). It may be difficult to get it up to the temperature, particularly during winter. I put my oven in the keep-warm mode for exactly 5 minutes, then turn off the oven and once the oven cools down a bit, I place the batter inside the oven. The heat retained by the oven should keep the batter warm for a long time. Alternatively, you can keep the oven light on during the entire fermentation process.
If you have a setup to make yogurt (e.g. Instant Pot with yogurt setting, bread proofer, etc.) you can easily ferment the batter in the same setup.
Fermenting the dosai batter can highly depend on the season of the year due to the temperature. During summer, the batter ferments in lesser time when compared to winter. The key to a perfectly fermented batter is to find a warm and dark spot to place the batter.
This batter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. To use, portion out the required amount of batter and let it sit on the countertop for about an hour (depending on the quantity) to come to room temperature.
Yes. I have tried it and it works perfectly. It can be frozen for up to three months. It is important, however, to make sure that you defrost the batter fully before using it. Place it in the refrigerator overnight and then place it over the counter to bring it to room temperature.
This dosa batter recipe:
- is tried and tested,
- includes all tips needed for grinding and fermentation,
- gives you the perfect batter every time.
Dosa Batter Recipe
- 1 cup urad dal
- 3 cups rice
- 2 tablespoon chana dal
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 cup poha
- In a large bowl, add urad dal, chana dal, and methi (fenugreek seeds).
- Wash it thoroughly one to two times. Soak in fresh filtered water making sure the dal is entirely covered in water.
- In another bowl, take rice and wash it thoroughly one to two times. Soak in fresh filtered water making sure the rice is entirely covered in water.
- Let them soak for at least 5-6 hours.
- Two hours before grinding, take poha in a separate bowl and wash it thoroughly. Soak it in fresh filtered water.
- Once everything is soaked, we can begin the grinding process.
- Drain all the water from dal and rice.
- Start with grinding the rice and poha together by adding some water. Depending on the size of your grinder, grind them in small batches.
- Add water in small batches as needed. The dosa batter consistency is similar to pancake batter.
- Once the rice is done, pour it into a container. Then add the urad dal for grinding.
- Once the urad dal is done, mix the rice and urad dal batter well.
- If you are grinding in batches, make sure you give the entire batter a good mix.
- Pour the batter into a thick-bottom vessel making sure there is enough room for it to rise. If the batter is filling more than ¾ of the vessel, divide it into two bowls.
- Cover and place in a dark and warm spot for 8-10 hours preferably overnight. The batter will ferment quickly during summer.
- Set your oven to keep-warm mode (approximately 120 F / 50 C) for exactly 5 minutes, then turn off the oven.
- Once the oven has cooled down a bit, spread a clean cloth on the oven rack. Place the vessel with the batter on the cloth. If you have an oven light, you can keep that on as well.
- Let the batter ferment for 10-12 hours or till you get a slightly sour smell from the batter.