Millet dosa is a nutritious breakfast dish prepared with millets, offering a crispy and gluten-free option that does not include rice or poha. The batter is made using foxtail millet and pearl millet, combined with skinned black gram, and is fermented similar to regular dosa batter.
Serve this crispy and delicious dosa with coconut cilantro chutney and vegetable sambar for a healthy weekend brunch. I have earlier shared how to make quinoa dosa which is made with quinoa and is unfermented. Here is my version of fermented millet dosa.
Why you will love this recipe?
- Nutritious: Millet dosa is rich in nutrients like fiber, protein, and vitamins, making it a healthier alternative to traditional rice-based dosa.
- Gluten-free: Millet is gluten-free, making millet dosa a suitable option for people with gluten intolerance.
- Tasty and versatile: Millet dosa is easy to make and can be customized with various fillings or toppings, making it a delicious and versatile breakfast or snack option.
- Fermented batter: When dosa batter is fermented, its taste is enhanced while also boosting its nutritional value. This is because the fermentation process breaks down the phytates found in millets, improving nutrient absorption and aiding in digestion.
Related: Mysore masala dosa.
Benefits of millets
Millet is known to be one of the oldest cultivated grains that are loaded with nutrition and are rich in vitamins and minerals. There are several varieties of millet that are gaining popularity these days due to their benefits and versatility. Millets are gluten-free so are suitable if you are allergic to gluten or following a gluten-free diet. They have a low glycemic index (GI) and hence, help in controlling blood sugar levels.
Millets are rich in dietary fiber and help improve digestive health. Millets are a good source of plant-based protein that is suitable if you are a vegetarian or following a vegan diet. Although millets are not as popular in the US as some other grains, they are becoming more recognized and appreciated as a nutritious and sustainable food source. They can be bought from health food stores, online stores like Amazon and Thrive market, and also some retail stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Market.
In my recipe here, I have used foxtail millet and pearl millet. Foxtail millet is called kangni or kakum in Hindi, navane in Kannada, korra in Telugu, thinai in Tamil, and kang in Gujarati. Pearl millet is called bajra in Hindi, sajje in Kannada, sajjalu in Telugu, kambu in Tamil, and bajri in Gujarati.
Millets: I use foxtail millet and pearl millet in this recipe. Barnyard millet, kodo millet, and little millet can also be used.
Skinned black gram: I use skinned black gram (urad dal). Whole unskinned black gram (sabut urad) can be used as well.
Fenugreek seeds: A small quantity of fenugreek seeds is used in dosa batter.
Step 1: Wash and soak the millets and urad dal separately.
Step 2: Grind them separately into a smooth batter and mix well. Let the batter sit for fermentation (see tips section below).
Step 3: Add salt to the fermented batter and mix well.
Step 4: Take a ladle full of batter and pour it into the center of the tawa. Using the ladle or a small bowl gently spread the batter in a circular motion.
Step 5: Pour ghee or oil onto the dosa.
Step 6: Carefully fold the dosa once done.
Soak the dal and millets 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.
Do not skip on fenugreek seeds (methi). This not only aids in the fermentation of the batter but also helps make the dosa crispy and golden.
Add little water when grinding the batter. If needed, add more water later to adjust the consistency. Keep in mind the batter should not be very runny and at the same time, it cannot be too thick. The batter consistency should be similar to the regular dosa batter or pancake batter.
I use foxtail millet and pearl millet in my recipe. Barnyard millet, Kodo millet, and little millet can also be used. You may also replace skinned urad dal with black urad dal but note that this will give a distinctive taste and darker color to the dosa.
It is very important to lightly grease the tawa and then sprinkle water over it before each dosa. Don’t skip this step.
This dosa also tastes great with hurali sambar.
How to ferment the batter?
Fermenting the millets dosa batter can highly depend on the season of the year due to the temperature. During summer, the batter ferments much more quickly when compared to winter. The key to a perfectly fermented dosa batter is to find a warm and dark spot to place the batter.
Millet 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. Pour the batter into the Instant Pot inner pot, cover it with the Instant Pot lid, and set the yogurt button for 10 hours.
Related: Adai dosa.
It is best not to store the cooked dosa. Make fresh dosa just before serving. The dosa batter, however, can be stored. Portion out the amount of batter you will use immediately and place the rest of the batter in an airtight container.
This batter stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to one week. If you are storing the dosa batter in the refrigerator, make sure you bring it to room temperature before making the dosa. Also, give it a very good mix as the batter tends to separate and water content comes on top.
I have stored the batter both before adding salt and after adding salt. I have not seen much difference in the batter or taste of dosa. It can be stored either way.
Making millet dosa without fermentation
While fermentation is a key step in making the best-tasting dosa, you can make them without fermentation. However, whole millet grains cannot be used in that case. You will need millet flour to make instant millet dosa.
To make millet dosa without fermentation, combine one cup of millet flour with ¼ cup of plain yogurt and ½ teaspoon of salt. Add water and mix well to make the batter. This batter should be slightly thinner than the regular dosa batter. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then make dosas as shown in this recipe.
More recipes using millet
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- 1½ cup foxtail millet kangni
- 1½ cup pearl millet bajra
- ¾ cup skinned black gram urad dal
- ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds methi
- 2 teaspoon salt
Making the batter:
- Place foxtail millet, pearl millet, and urad dal in separate bowls. Wash them thoroughly and drain the water.
- Add fresh water and soak them for 5-6 hours. Drain the water from both the millets and urad dal.
- Grind the urad dal by adding little water until it is smooth. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Next, grind the millets separately by adding little water as needed. Transfer it to the bowl along with urad dal. Mix the batter well.
- Let it sit for fermentation overnight. The batter is ready to be used once it is well fermented
Making the dosa:
- Add salt to the batter and mix well. Place a dosa tawa on medium heat and let it heat up.
- Take a ladle full of batter and pour it into the center of the tawa. Using the ladle or a small bowl gently spread the batter in a circular motion.
- Pour a teaspoon of oil or ghee onto the dosa. Cook on medium heat until it is golden brown.
- Fold the dosa as desired and remove it from tawa.
- Sprinkle some water and clean the tawa before making the next dosa. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
- Serve hot with chutney and sambar.
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