The Beginner's Guide to Making a Dosa

Leda Scheintaub, co-owner of the popular Dosa Kitchen food truck in Brattleboro, VT, and co-author of Dosa Kitchen: Recipes for India's Favorite Street Food, joins us to talk about starting a food business and nailing your first foray into dosa-making.

Kara Rota
6-minute read
Episode #205

What is the ideal fermentation temperature?

The ideal temperature for fermentation is 90°F. There are several ways to hold your temperature in this vicinity:

  • In the oven with the viewing light (not the pilot light) turned on. We recommend using an oven thermometer to gauge your oven’s temperature. We turn the oven to 200°F, then turn off the oven and let it cool to about 100°F before putting the batter in the oven. This initial higher temperature jump-starts fermentation. An oven thermometer comes in handy here. Tape over the temperature control so you don’t accidentally turn on the oven while the batter is fermenting. If you need the oven for an hour or two for something else, no problem: Remove the dosa batter, do your baking, then almost fully cool the oven (to the point where you can comfortably touch a rack) and return the dosa batter to the oven to finish fermenting.
  • In a dehydrator with removable shelves and a thermostat. Set the thermostat to 90°F.
  • Atop a heating pad set to the lowest temperature. Cover the heating pad with a waterproof cloth to keep it safe from accidental spills.
  • In your warmest room when the weather is South Indian sultry. Keep the batter out of direct sunlight.

How do I get my dosas really browned and crisp?

Be sure your pan is very hot and that you start with room-temperature batter. Be liberal when drizzling oil over your dosas in the pan. Chana dal helps give a nice brown color to your dosas.

Are there other types of dosas?

Quite a few: from pesarattu dosa (made from mung dal) to neer dosa (made solely from rice) to adai (made from rice and a variety of lentils). We love them all and encourage you to explore once you’ve mastered the classic dosa.

What else can I do with chutney?

  • After you’ve blended and poured out your chutney, add some Turmeric Bone Broth to the blender and blend briefly to incorporate the chutney remnants. Instant soup!
  • Add a little chutney to dosa batter for extra flavor.
  • Add a spoonful of chutney to season a stir-fry or steamed vegetables.
  • Whisk some olive oil into chutney to make salad dressing.
  • Pour some chutney over scrambled eggs.
  • Dip a Dosa Chip in chutney.

What is the proper way to eat a dosa?

With a fork is fine, but we prefer the intimacy of our hands, treating the dosa as an eating utensil to scoop up the filling, or as a burrito-like wrap. In India, eating with your hands is common and many restaurants have dedicated handwashing stations to visit after the main course—some will even bring you individual bowls of warm water with a squeeze of lime (and if you’re lucky, a few flower petals) to wash with.

Reprinted from Dosa Kitchen: Recipes for India's Favorite Street Food. Copyright © 2018 by Nash Patel and Leda Scheintaub. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Kristen Teig. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


About the Author

Kara Rota

Kara Rota headed children’s programming at Chicago’s Green City Market and studied food politics at Sarah Lawrence College. Kara has been a featured speaker at numerous venues including Food Book Fair, the Roger Smith Food Conference, and the Brooklyn Food Conference. She has written about food for Irish America Magazine, West Side Rag, Recipe Relay, and Food + Tech Connect, and is the former Director of Editorial & Partnerships at Cookstr.com.