Many diners in the United States know dosas as the crisp, oversize folds served at South Indian restaurants. But those dosas have a large extended family: dosas from Karnataka made with grated cucumber; dosas from Tamil Nadu made with pearl millet flour; and dosas from Kerala made with jaggery. There are lacy-edged dosas and cakelike dosas, delicate dosas that crumple like hankies, and fat, deeply pocked dosas that break where they’re creased. If you’ve never made dosas at home, a good place to start is this simple rice and urad dal batter. Traditionally, the batter relies on a wild fermentation that flourishes in warm kitchens, but many cooks hack this, reaching for packets of dosa mix or adding yeast to ensure that the fermentation kicks off properly. A powerful blender is crucial to getting a fine, smooth batter. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s very foamy and smells a little sour.
- Serves: 20 persons
- 2cups basmati or jasmine rice
- 1cup urad dal (split black gram)
- ½teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- ½teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 ½teaspoons kosher salt
- Ghee, as needed
Step 1In a large bowl, mix the rice, dal and fenugreek. Rinse a few times with water, then fill the bowl with water and leave to soak for 4 to 8 hours. Drain the mixture and mix at high speed in a blender, gradually adding 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, until very smooth and pale. Add the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon salt and mix again.
Step 2Scrape batter into a large bowl and cover. Let ferment at room temperature until the batter has mushroomed and nearly doubled in size, and is foamy all the way through, 8 to 12 hours.
Step 3Gently stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, which will cause the batter to deflate slightly. The batter should make ribbons when ladled back onto itself; add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, if needed, to thin it out.
Step 4Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium. When hot, lower the heat to medium-low, then lightly grease the inside of the skillet with ghee. Ladle about 1/4 cup batter into the center of the pan. Using the bottom of the ladle, gently smooth the batter in an outward spiral to form a 6-inch disk. Drizzle the top of the dosa with 1 teaspoon ghee.
Step 5When the top turns white and spongy, and the edges of the dosa turn golden and start to release from the pan, in 3 to 4 minutes, loosen the dosa from the pan using an offset spatula. Peek to check the bottom of the dosa: If the bottom is brown, flip the dosa. Otherwise, let it cook a little longer, then loosen it all the way and flip. Let cook on the second side for about 30 seconds, then transfer it to a plate.
Step 6Repeat with remaining batter, adding more ghee as needed.