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I tried my hand at making dosas for the first time this weekend.

I was following this recipe for the dosa batter.

I soaked the dal and fenugreek seeds together and the rice by itself. The rice and dal were then blended together. They were then fermented.

At this point real life happened and I didn't have time to actually make them. They fermented for two days. By this time the batter was very aerated and fragrant.

I then used non-stick spray on an electric griddle and cooked them similar to crepes- spreading them thin with the back of the ladle.

Sambar and Dosa

They were delicious! More sour and nutty than restaurant dosas but they had entirely the "wrong" texture. Where restaurant dosas are smooth, shiny, brown, and crisp; mine were much paler and, although they could get somewhat crisp, they were never smooth or shiny and didn't stay crisp for long.

Indian coworkers have told me that there are variations in traditional dosas and just one style is used in restaurants.

  • Is there a tradition style of dosa that ferments longer and is more sour?

I would like to perfect this recipe and make my dosas more like the restaurant style. Obviously the batter fermented far longer than required. That would account for the aeration, acidity, and minimal browning.

Is the fermentation also responsible for the lack of shine and crispness?

There are a few variables that could also come into play:

  • Cooking on a griddle is not traditional (I think). Could the cooking temp be wrong?
  • The pan is usually oiled with an onion dipped in oil. I used non-stick spray.
  • I was unsure of the batter thickness.
    At one point I thinned it with water. This may be hard to answer, but what consistency should the batter be? Would thinner help?
  • I've read that the ratio of rice to dal greatly affects the texture. I followed the proportions from the recipe. Is the ratio in the recipe to blame?
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    I'd say they look a little thick - when you spread it out, you should be able to see through it in places. The batter itself is quite thick - it should certainly coat the back of a spoon. This video illustrates the consistency of the batter, the heat of the cooking surface, and the thickness of the dosa quite well: youtube.com/watch?v=63_0EsvKBfo – ElendilTheTall Mar 10 '15 at 16:11
  • Very interesting! They used Channa dal and said it was important. I used Toor dal. They cooked it in an oiled cast iron skillet. Undoubtedly hotter than my non stick griddle. They did also mention that there are many styles. – Sobachatina Mar 10 '15 at 16:20
  • I agree with @ElendilTheTall. The dosa looks somewhat too thick, tending toward utthapa. After you thinned out the batter, were you able to spread it out more? Also, toor dal is not generally equivalent to chana dal in recipes, though I can't say what difference it would make in this particular situation. – verbose Jan 23 '17 at 12:44
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The crispness comes from the very high heat of the very thick cast iron skillet used in restaurants. The usual non stick pan, unless it is made of heavy cast iron, cannot produce that crispness. Kind of the American reason why oven pizza does not come out nice and crusty like the stone oven pizza. The ingredient is the very high heat that is missing here.

  • I'll try it in my cast iron next time. – Sobachatina Jul 20 '15 at 17:20
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The crispiness also depends on your rice to urad dal ratio. If its 2:1 or 3:1, and the batter is thinner, you can get crispy dosas at home as well. I use a heavy non-stick pan which doesn't require oil coating, but you can add a tiny amount of oil, especially around the edges to get extra crispiness.

Here's a video which show what I have suggested: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=k06aod-gprg

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