6 Essential Tools for Making Dosa at Home
Here, I’m sharing my dosa-making essentials — the tools I use both for blending the batter and cooking the dosas. Truth be told, my mother made dosas for us with whatever equipment and utensils she had in her kitchen (including an old blender that would always overheat). But ever since I started making dosas on my own, I’ve found that these tools, which include a cast iron or nonstick griddle, a blender (preferably a Vitamix), a flat ladle (I have a few hacks for this below) and a flat square spatula, are greatly beneficial.
If you’re interested in cooking more South Indian food at home, I highly recommend investing in at least a few of these items. Look for them at an Indian grocery store or market, or purchase online.
The preferred piece of equipment for making dosa and idli batter is an Indian wet grinder, which doesn’t require much water and can pulverize the dal optimally, but a Vitamix with a large bowl does the trick for me — it aerates the batter effectively. I’m not suggesting you have to buy a Vitamix (my mother has been making dosas for decades using a standard blender), but keep in mind that if your blender is not as powerful, it’s easier to overheat the batter, so you’ll want to grind the batter in smaller batches. On the other hand, I’ve found that I need to add more water to my chutney recipes to get it blending when I use a Vitamix.
2. Well-Seasoned Griddle
A cast iron griddle is used most often for cooking dosa and other savory crepes. You can sub in a cast iron frying pan or nonstick griddle or frying pan, which I also use for making eggs. Nonstick is acceptable in this instance because high heat is not needed to cook dosas.
A metal spatula is perfect if you’re cooking dosa in a cast iron griddle or pan. Opt for a silicone one or one that’s nonstick-safe if using a nonstick griddle.
4. Flat Dosa Ladle
It’s much easier to spread dosa using a flat ladle versus a curved one. In lieu of buying one, you can hack it by using a ladle to drop the batter onto the skillet and then spreading it with a serving spoon that has more of a flat curvature. I know some home cooks also use a flat measuring cup or a little Indian bowl called a katori to spread their dosas.
5. Spice Tin or Masala Dabba
Every Indian kitchen has one (or two, in my case) stainless steel Indian spice boxes, usually containing seven small spice containers, an inner cover, and a spice spoon. I have one with my main South Indian spices and one with my North Indian spices. I also use the inner cover to hold a small stash of dried red chili peppers. While not essential, having a spice box is a time saver when making just about any Indian dish, including the potato palya for masala dosa, because you can fit your most-used spices into one canister, instead of fumbling with multiple bottles.
6. Tempering Pot
A small, heavy-bottomed, bowl-shaped pot with a long handle is used to fry whole spices like black mustard seeds and curry leaves in hot fat that season a variety of Indian dishes, such as the cilantro coconut chutney served with dosa. You can also use a small frying pan or even a Turkish coffee pot. If you have a little lid handy, that will help you as the curry leaves tend to spurt up. A little secret: I use my Indian tempering pot to also poach eggs because it’s the perfect size to keep the egg intact.