There is special happiness while you get hot off the tawa dosas. It is a special privilege we get while being with mum. For the same reason, much of the dosa making in our house has shifted from breakfast to dinner. In that way, it still gets from the tawa to the plate in no time. There is one recipe that my family loves, hot or cold. Softer than the pancake, the set dosa or sponge dosa is one that gets voted perfect each time.
What makes set dosa unique?
The pillowy soft set dosa is one of my first orders when I get to a Darshini in Bengaluru. Darshinis is a unique self-service, South Indian fast food outlet that characterises the food scene of Bengaluru. With plenty of varieties of dosa on the menu, it doesn’t take long to get a coupon to the set dosa and to tuck it in.
Unlike the popular masala dosa or paper-thin crepes if dosa, the set dosa is thicker and fluffier. Stacked like pancakes, it is a filling platter for a busy metro office goer. Though thicker the dosa is incredibly soft.
For the batter
- 3.5 cups parboiled rice ( I used idly ponni rice)
- 3/4 cup Urad Dal ( skinner whole black gram, ulutham parippu)
- 1 cup rice flakes (thick aval)
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tbsp salt
To make the set dosa
- salt to taste
- 1 cup water use only if needed. See notes below.
- 8-10 tsp Sesame oil ( choose any oil you like)
To make the batter.
- Wash the rice well atleast 3-5 times and then soak in excess water for about 4 hours.Add the fenugreek to soak along with the rice.
- Wash the urad dal 3-5 times and soak that separately for 2-3 hours
- Soak the aval ( rice flakes ) separately for 2 hours.
- Drain most of the soaking water ( keep the Urad dal soaking water) and keep the rice and dal ready. Keep it covered.
- After the soaking time, grind the urad dal till it is soft, smooth and fluffy.
- Add just enough water to get it to a fluffy batter as you go. Use the water from soaking as it gives the necessary stickiness to the overall batter.
- Remove the urad dal batter and grind the rice with the fenugreek to a smooth batter.
- Use water as needed to help the grinding.
- When it is nearly getting done add the soaked aval ( poha) and grind to a smooth paste.
- Once fully ground, remove this batter and add to the urad dal batter.
- Mix the two batters really well with the salt added.
- Store the batter in a warm place in your kitchen, away from direct heat / sunlight for about 8 hours to allow it to ferment.
- Check the recipe notes if you are in a cooler place or if it is winter to see how you can ferment the batter.
- Once fermented the batter will rise considerbly.
- Once risen the batter is ready to make the dosa.
To make the dosa.
- Mix the fermented batter well, test for salt, add if necessary.
- Add enough water to make it a pouring batter thinner than honey, but not watery.
- Heat the tawa ( pancake pan will work) to medium heat.
- Brush it with a bit of oil.
- Pour a ladle full of batter at the centre of the pan and gently press the centre to slightly to help spread the batter a bit.
- Cover the crepe with a lid with room enough for the batter to rise slightly and steam.
- Once the holes appear and the batter stops looking wet, the dosa is ready.
- Remove to a plate and make another.
- The set dosa is ready.
- The serving suggestions are given below.
How to get the perfect holes?
You could get lost counting how many holes pop up in this dosa. I love watching the bubbles pop as soon as you pour the batter on the hot tawa.
There are a few tips that I learnt over multiple attempts that helps to get the perfect holes that gives the spongy texture.
Aval or poha – the beaten rice flakes are the ones that give the pillowy soft texture to the dosas. It also keeps the dosa moist and soft for about 4 to 6 hours. The thick variety of aval is used in this recipe
Fermentation- just like the other styles of dosa 8 hours of fermentation is needed to get the dosa ready. In winter, place the batter in the oven and leave the light overnight (8 to 12 hours).
Tawa -is the seasoned cast iron flat pan that is used to make dosa. It is a thick pan so regulates regular heat well. You could use a nonstick flat pan to make the dosa.
Serving the set dosa
Darshini platter -if you are recreating the Bengaluru fast food experience, you should pair a set dosa stack (2 or 3 pieces) with coconut chutney and sagu (potato-based curry). Have it with a cup of piping hot masala chai.
Lunchbox – the soft dosa doesn’t dry up in the box (a common problem with the savoury thinner crepes). My quick idea to make a dry lunch box without chutney or sagu is to cover the top of the set dosa with podi. And pop them in like sandwiches.
Other similar crepe recipes.
Green gram dosa / pessarattu – made with Green gram these crepes are perfect for a gluten-free option.
Instant wheat flour dosa /Godhambu dosa – Whole wheat flour dosas are an instant option.
Sweet cucumber dosa / Sothekayi dosa – Try a sweet version of this cumber rice dosa crepes.
Channa dal dosa /chilka roti – A unique recipe similar to dosa made with chickpeas dal.
Beetroot and chickpea dosa / cheela – Easy to make thin crepe with chickpea flour and beetroot.
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