Dosa/dosai/dose however you want to call these South Indian lentil-rice crepes, Chennai's dosa sucks- big time. They just do not know how to make a dosa. We have tried dosas from Saravana bhavan- fail, Grand sweets- fail, Murugan idli kadai- epic fail, even the ones from Vasco in Hilton Chennai was just meh, the only decent ones we have had so far is from Sangeetha. One of my friend even went on to say "don't call what they make in Chennai dosas cos they are not' :D Bangalore takes the dosa crown. From Adigas in Chandralayout to Dosa camp in Jayanagar to the numerous Darshinis dotting the town I've not come across a bad dosa in Bangalore. The colour is deep red, with just the right amount of crisp and when you eat you can taste the cooked batter. Here after the batter is spread on the pan they keep scraping it with a spatula and drizzle oil like its the last day on the planet- as a result you end up with a thin greasy dosa which is never crisp- crisp is when the dosa stays still like a papad not slightly leaning over! In Chennai the dosa is always leaning over-sort of soggy crisp ugh, basically like eating hot greased butter paper- yum!
Here is how I make a dosa which IMHO is a trillion times better than what is sold in most of the restaurants here.
My proportion- 1/2C urad dal: 3 C rice (2C idli/dosa rice and 1C ponni boiled rice)+small fist of thick poha+1tsp methi (yep that much, cos my dal fluffs wonderfully. In the US I was using 1:3 I had to increase after I came here. My Bharathi athe (aunt)*who gets the bestest dosa in town crown from me* uses 1:8 :D) And the dal is NEVER ground along with the rice, the dal and the rice mixture is soaked separately (for 2 max 3 hours) and then ground separately. The dal is ground separately to allow it to sort of reach its maximum fluff potential (it will not fluff up properly if mixed with rice and ground=what the ladies in my family tell me), the rice mixture is not ground fine but slightly coarse. After the dal and rice mixture is ground I then mix both together with salt and let it ferment. Again nothing is worse than eating sour dosas-never over ferment, when I see it slightly risen I transfer it to the refrigerator (with the wonderful tropical climate here I see that it continues to rise in the fridge).
I use a cast iron pan for all my dosas, I use non-stick for chapathis. If you are wondering about the coconut thing on the red lid -I use it to grease the pan :D Don't waste an onion!
Drop one ladle and round round round ending with a strike in the centre so the batter is not thick in that area.
Cover (everyone in my family does this step, which I find most other people don't) It helps to cook the dosa faster
remove and drizzle the fat of your choice- ghee in my case (if adding podi/chutney do it now)
and allow it to crisp
and we never flip the dosa, serves no purpose if you ask me, waste of time really it's already cooked what more are we trying to do by flipping it.
Done- golden and no leaning tower of dosai.
*You cannot use this batter to make idlis
* If you can't find idli rice use raw rice (I used to use Sona Masuri in the US and the dosas used to come out well)
* boiled rice gives the dosa colour and makes it crisp, don't use too much of it, you will end up with a very tough dosa- not good.
And that is how a dosa is made in SJ's house :D