If you love lacy, crepe-like south Indian dosas with golden edges that crackle and crunch as you eat them, I have for you a recipe that will make you fall in love: a sorghum dosa.
This is a simple recipe, with just three ingredients needed, and there's some soaking and fermentation time involved. However, it's also a fairly easy recipe and there's no reason you can't make it even if you've never tried making an Indian dosa before.
What is sorghum?
Sorghum, also called jowar, milo,Indian millet, cholam (in Tamil) and jwari (in Marathi), has a plethora of health benefits that range from fighting cancer (it's particularly effective in inhibiting an enzyme linked to the development of breast cancer) to heart disease and diabetes. It is also gut-friendly and gluten-free, so it's a good grain for those with celiac disease or anyone that's watching their gluten intake.
Jowar is also naturally cooling, so it can be a valuable addition to the diet when it's hot outside.
Sorghum grows as a tall, grassy plant whose canes are used to extract sorghum syrup here in the United States, while the seedhead produces the pearl-like, golden seeds that are available whole or as flour.
I usually buy sorghum flour to make Indian flatbreads like bhakri, but for this dosa recipe I used a wholegrain sorghum.
Why you'll love this sorghum dosa
- It's really, really delicious. Whether or not you are used to eating dosas with any regularity, you will want to once you've tried this recipe. The sorghum makes the dosas really crispy and has a delicious, nutty flavor.
- It's easy. While a dosa might appear like a difficult dish to make, it honestly can't be easier. The only skill needed is to spread it into a thin crepe on the hot griddle, but if you mess up the shape you will still have a delicious dosa to eat and who cares how it looks? You'll get better with time.
- It's healthy. For all the benefits of sorghum I stated above, and for the fact that there is not a thing in this recipe that's not amazing for you. There's a whole grain (well, technically a seed), a lentil, urad dal or black gram dal, and a few fenugreek seeds, which are by themselves a superfood. And you can ferment the batter to make it probiotic and amp up the gut-friendly value of this dosa. I'll show you how.
- It's kid-friendly. Children tend to love dosas because they are crispy and crunchy but this sorghum dosa is a special favorite in our home and goes down fabulously with my teen.
- Sorghum or jowar millets. Buy the whole seed and not the milled flour for this recipe. I used Bob's Red Mill, but there are many other varieties as well available online.
- Urad dal or black gram dal. These small, white lentils (don't use the kind with the black skin on) are traditionally used in dosas, and they work really well here.
- Fenugreek seeds. You need just half a teaspoon for these small, brown grains with a deep, bittersweet flavor in this recipe. Fenugreek is always added to dosa batters, especially those that are fermented, because it has a natural affinity for wild yeast and helps speed the fermentation process. If you plan on making the dosas rightaway and don't have these available you can leave them out.
- Vegetable oil. You need this mainly to dribble around the edges of the dosa as it is cooking, which helps the dosa crisp up. You can use a cooking spray, as I often do, if you are watching your fat intake, but make sure you are careful and turn a gas stove flame to low or off before you spray around the edges so you don't get any spray directly on the flame.
How to make the sorghum dosa
You absolutely can, although you won't get the probiotic benefit and that unique flavor fermentation produces. The dosas will still be delicious, however. Just proceed with making the dosas as soon as you've blended the batter.
You can, but you won't get the same crispy texture and the batter will be harder to work with. Urad dal is used in dosas because when blended it has a unique texture that helps all of the ingredients bind well, and it also has a neutral flavor that works really well in dosas. I would advise getting urad dal for the best results.
Always store the batter and not the dosas. In other words, don't make the dosas beforehand and serve them later because they simply won't hold that crispy texture and will get soft. Dosas are best eaten hot off the griddle. But you can store the batter in the refrigerator for a week. Just pull it out and make hot dosas whenever the mood strikes!
What to serve the sorghum dosa with
- Stuff it with a simple potato sabzi. These Bombay Potatoes with south Indian flavors also taste great with this dosa.
- Or serve the sorghum dosa just as you would any other dosa, with a coconut chutney.
- You can also eat it with a south Indian dal, like this onion sambar or vengaya sambar, or this white pumpkin sambar.
Sorghum Dosa or Jowar Dosa
- Large bowl for soaking ingredients and batter
- Cast iron griddle
- 1 cup sorghum (jowar. Use the whole seed, not the flour)
- ½ cup urad dal
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (for cooking the dosas. Can sub with cooking spray)
- Salt to taste
- Rinse the sorghum, then place it in a large bowl with the urad dal and fenugreek seeds. Do not add salt at this time.
- Cover with at least two inches of water and let it stand for four to six hours until the millets and lentils are puffy.
- Place the soaked sorghum, lentils and fenugreek in a blender bowl. Use some of the soaking water (you might not need all of it) to process into a smooth paste. You should, however, feel a very slight graininess when you rub the batter between your fingers--that will help make your dosas crispy.
- You can make the dosas rightaway at this point. But if you'd like to ferment the batter, cover the bowl and let it stand in a warm spot, like a cold oven with just the light turned on, overnight or for at least eight hours.
- The batter should have fermented at this time--it will look puffy and when you scrape at the surface with a spoon you should see some bubbling. The time for fermentation will vary depending on where you are and how hot/cold it is around you.
- Mix the fermented batter well with a spoon and add salt to taste.
- Heat a well-seasoned cast iron or nonstick griddle until drops of water skitter off and dry up immediately. You can rub a paper towel with a tiny bit of oil across the surface of the griddle to season it for the dosa, but don't leave any drops of oil on the griddle.
- Using a rounded ladle, preferably, pour about a third of a cup of the batter on the griddle and then, using the bottom of the ladle or the bowl of a spoon, quickly spread it by moving the spoon outward in a spiral fashion. You might not get it perfect the first few times, but you will get better with practice.
- Add a few droplets of oil around the edges of the dosa as it cooks to help it crisp up. If you're watching your fat intake you can just spray some cooking spray carefully around the edges (if using a gas stove make sure it is turned off or very low when you spray so you don't hit the flame with the spray).
- Cook over medium-high heat until the underside is golden and crispy. Using a flat spatula gently loosen the dosa from the griddle and flip. Cook about 30 seconds, then remove the dosa to a plate.
- Serve hot.