Savory Rice and Urad Dal Pancakes (Dosas)


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Savory Rice and Urad Dal Pancakes (Dosas)

One of the highlights of Yamuna Devi's Lord Krishna's Cuisine is the large and extensive chapter on snacks and savories featuring dozens of tantalizing recipes for pakoras, koftas, samosas, kachoris, dosas, cheelas, pooras, idlis and other steamed or fried patties and puffs from all over India. Add one of the scores of chutneys from her book and you're in culinary nirvana.

These thin, soft and savory rice and urad dal pancakes, otherwise known as "sada dosa", are to South Indians what crêpes are to the French, according to Devi, suitable for rolling and dipping into all kinds of chutneys or dips for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. Instead of using a flour, egg and milk batter, however, these pancakes are made from nothing more than ground and fermented basmati rice and split urad dal with water and a little salt.

Because the soaking and fermentation process takes upward of a day and as much as two days, you will need to plan well ahead of time if you are going to make these dosas, but blending the batter and frying the pancakes are relatively quick procedures. The planning time is well worth it however for the lovely, slightly sour fragrance and flavor that warm fermentation lends to these thin pancakes and for their delicate but crisp texture.

Savory Rice and Urad Dal Pancakes (Dosas)

These savory rice and urad dal pancakes went beautifully as part of a light meal I served with Devi's suggestion of coconut and mint chutney for dipping as well as my hot curried vegetable soup.

Savory Rice and Urad Dal Pancakes (Dosas)Savory Rice and Urad Dal Pancakes (Dosas)
Recipe by
From Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking
Cuisine: Indian
Published on February 19, 2008

Thin, light, soft and savory flourless pancakes made from ground and fermented white rice and split urad dal — great for rolling and dipping into chutneys or dips for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks

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Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup split skinless urad dal
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • scant 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • ghee or olive oil for frying
Instructions:
  • Rinse the urad dal thoroughly under cold running water for several minutes, then place in a bowl. Add 3 cups of cold water and loosely cover. Similarly, rinse the rice under cold running water as well and place in a separate bowl. Again, cover with 3 cups of cold water and loosely cover. Allow both to soak for 4 to 6 hours.

  • Drain the urad dal and add to a blender. Process for about 1 1/2 minutes, adding 1/2 cup of warm water in tablespoons. Stop now and then to push the dal down with a spatula. Slowly add another 1/4 cup of warm water and continue to blend for a couple more minutes until the batter is light and frothy. Using a spatula, remove all the batter into a large ceramic or glass mixing bowl.

  • Drain the rice and add to the blender. Grind for 1 1/2 minutes, stopping now and then to push the rice down with a spatula, until it is ground into a meal. Add 1/2 cup of warm water and blend for 1 minute before adding another 1/4 cup of water. Blend for 3 to 4 minutes until the rice forms a fine paste-like batter.

  • Scrape the rice batter into the bowl with the urad dal batter and gently stir to mix. Drape a dish towel or cloth over the bowl and loosely cover with a plate. Set aside in a warm spot in your kitchen to ferment for at least 24 hours. When finished, the batter should have expanded in volume and be covered on the surface with little bubbles. The aroma of the batter should be pleasantly sour and slightly fruity. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, the fermentation process may take as long as 2 days as it did in my winter kitchen.

  • Once fermented, stir in the salt and add some warm water if necessary to thin the consistency to that of a light cake batter. At this point, the batter is ready to be fried, or it may be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days for later use.

  • Preheat a 10-inch frying pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the pan to test the temperature — if it is just right, the drops will dance and sputter before vanishing. If the drops vanish right away, turn down the temperature slightly, or if the drops just sit on the surface before boiling, turn up the temperature slightly. Brush the surface with a light film of ghee or olive oil.

  • Scoop 1/3 cup of the batter and place on the middle of the pan. Wait a few seconds, then place the bottom of a ladle or large spoon in the center of the batter and spread it outwards in a continuous spiral, pressing lightly, until you have a thin round or oval pancake about 8 inches in diameter. Drizzle a teaspoon of the ghee or olive oil over the surface and around the edges of the pancake.

  • Cover the pan and cook for 2 minutes until small holes appear on the top of the batter and the bottom is golden to reddish-brown. Loosen the edges with a spatula and turn the pancake over. Fry, uncovered, for another minute or so, then flip over once again, fold the pancake in half and slip it out of the pan on to a warming plate or into an oven preheated to 250° while you repeat the process. Repeat the water sprinkling periodically to test the temperature of the pan and brush with more ghee or oil before adding each 1/3 cup of batter.

  • Serve hot, or store wrapped in aluminum foil and reheat in a 350° oven.

Makes twelve 8-inch dosas
Savory Rice and Urad Dal Pancakes (Dosas)

13 comments:

Mansi Desai said...

that looks healthy and delicious Lisa! nice one:) btw, I have a soup ready for your event, just haven't had time to write the post! hopefully tonight and I'll send it to you by tomorrow..is that ok?

Peter M said...

Lisa, this ingredient is fascinating...a basmati rice flour?

I learn from your blog and some of these techniques can be applied to other cuisines.

Finally, I await a tribute dish for Lord Ganesha! ;)

Lisa said...

Mansi;

Yes, please do send along your soup. I'm very much looking forward to it. The deadline is the 20th, so I will except entries until Thursday morning. The roundup should be up on Friday. We've received so many beautiful soup recipes. I've been keeping quite busy!

Lisa said...

Peter, I would be very interested to see what you could come up with. I'll explore other cuisines soon, but for this week, it's all Indian.

Clearly, Lord Ganesha looks favorably upon you, as you made your own phyllo pastry from scratch!

For those that didn't see Peter's successful recipe, you can find it here.

indosungod said...

Lisa, the dosais look fantastic, I was a little surprised by the title but indeed they are Indian pancakes :)

Soaking the rice and urad dal overnight makes the batter ferment faster in my experience.

Johanna said...

wow those look amazing - I have recently been in love with masala dosa at a local indian and have wondered about making it - you make it sound easy but I still need to get my head around different dahls - which I think means getting to know the indian groceries near me - but maybe one day...

Bellini Valli said...

I have always been fascinated by East Indian cuisine... it is all unfamiliar territory and ingredients. When I lived in Calgary I met an East Indian family that plied me with delicious foods. I should have taken an interest then and would be an expert by now.

Lisa said...

Val;

It's never too late to learn! I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have if I can. I've been cooking Indian for many years now, and though I am no expert, I have learned a few things.

Johanna;

I offer the same invitation to you should you be inspired to learn more about this wonderful cuisine.

indosungod;

Yes, soaking the batter overnight is the way to go.

Kevin said...

These sound pretty interesting. I like the sound of the fermenting in the process. Bookmarked to try. Pretty soon my kimchi should be fermented enough to try.

Lisa said...

Let me know how they turn out for you Kevin. I enjoyed them immensely.

Ricki said...

These look wonderfully appetizing, and amazingly easy as well! I love all kinds of pancakes and quick breads, but have been a bit scared off by sourdoughs or fermented batters. But I'd love to try these!

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

How do you get urad dal without skins? Does that mean lentils without skins?

Lisa said...

Sally:

Urad dal are not quite the same as lentils. You can buy they at an Indian grocery store. You can read more about them here.