Aug 17, 2010

Red Rice Dosai (Savoury Pancakes) & Idlis

We are all so used to seeing golden and white dosais (pancakes) in our South Indian breakfast menus, I think it's high time we make the switch to a healthier dosai.

Dosai is a simple rice pancake made in all south Indian homes served generally with a spicy red paste, coconut chutney and sambaar (any one of them or all of them)

White rice is without the husk and without most of the nutrients and fibre. So this recipe uses red rice, keeping all the nutrients intact, instead of white.

At home we use an electric grinder which uses stones (so that the dough doesnt heat up while grinding) to grind the soaked rice and urad dal (urad bean). I have tried this recipe with an electric blender with metal blades as well and it turned out as good.

You need:

2 cups Red Rice
1 cup Urad Dal
1 teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Dana)
Salt to taste (I would say not more than two teaspoons)

2 Bowls to soak the rice and dal
A Flat iron pan (tawa)/ non stick pan
A Ladle
A metal spatula/ a turner to flip the dosai (pancake)
Oil (usually sesame/til oil)

Everything except the salt has to be soaked. The rice and dal must be soaked separately. Wash the rice and dal and soak it in water. The Fenugreek seeds (methi dana) can be soaked with the urad dal. Soak it for 4 to 6 hours. You might have to add water after a while since the grains soak up the water.

I would suggest that the grinding should be done at night because this dough will require fermentation and you can leave it out to ferment all night and have it fresh the next morning.

Start by grinding the urad dal and methi seeds. Drain out the excess water and put it in the blender. Keep it on for a while and in intervals, keep cleaning the sides of the blender so it is a uniform paste. You will notice that the urad doubles in quantity. Keep grinding it till it is a fine, fluffy paste.

Usually, the blender is not big enough to accommodate the red rice once the urad dal is done. So scoop out the urad-methi paste into a big enough vessel, we use steel, so preferably an opaque vessel.

Next comes the rice. Blend it little bit at a time if 2 cups seems like a lot and again make sure it's a fine paste. Mix both the pastes and you're ready to let it ferment. Just stir it enough for it to seem equally blended, cover it and keep it out for the night or for about 8 hours. The salt should only be added the next morning after fermentation, since salt inhibits fermentation.

The next morning it should smell different and should seem like it has risen. You can start using it immediately after adding the salt and mixing it a bit, keeping the rest in the refrigerator for future use.

To make the dosai, heat a flat iron pan. To start with, us South Indians usually make a small dosai using about 2 teaspoons of dough, mainly to test the dough, the pan and to heat it uniformly. You can splash some oil around this tiny one.

Once the dosai can be over turned easily means it has cooked on one side and needs to be flipped over so both sides are cooked.

This takes a bit of practise and getting used to, specially if you don't make dosais often or are doing it for the first time.

Once the testing is done, use a big ladle to scoop out some dough and pour it in the center of the
hot pan. With slow, circular motions in a single direction, spread out the dough into a flat dosai, so it looks something like the picture on the right.

Using a teaspoon spread some oil around the edges of the dosai and let it cook for sometime.

Flip it over to the other side when the edges look cooked and crisp. It's important to keep the flame / temperature low and at a constant.

Once it becomes darker and crisp on both sides it is cooked and ready to be served. Usually it is served with a dry red powder called 'molaga pudi' (I call it gun powder) made with a mix of dals, sesame and red chillies dry roasted and ground coarse. The molaga pudi is served mixed with sesame oil to make it into a wet paste. It can also be served with sambaar and a coconut chutney which uses raw mature coconut scraped out of the shell (1 cup) and ground with green or red chillies (1 or 2 depending on your spice tolerance level) and salt, then garnished with some roasted mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida. A nice addition to the chutney is some raw mango when it is in season.

It's just as easy to make the red rice dosai and its so much more healthier.

I tried steaming the same batter to make mini idlis (steamed rice cakes) and they turned out awesome.

I was recently told that Namdhari Stores in Bangalore stocks RedRice Dosa and Idli Mix under the brand name Navdarshanam. So all the Bangaloreans who think the grinding process is too much, no more excuses! (Thanks for the tip Veena)


  1. hi rithika - hit upon ur vegan blog. It is lovely. thank for sharing these recipes. One question on this post: Did you use raw or boiled red rice?

    1. Thank You Prasanna. I used raw red rice for this recipe.


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