Learn how to make the South-Indian crepes healthier with this easy and delicious Millet Dosa recipe, I used the Sama Millet (Barnyard Millet, sometimes also called Little Millet), but honestly, pretty much any millet will work in this recipe.
As a self-certified Idli (and Dosa) freak, I’ve lost count of how many Idlis and Dosas I’ve had over the years. A staple in our South Indian household, I’m all too familiar with the constant process of soaking the rice and lentils, grinding into a smooth batter, mixing with your clean hand to incorporate good bacteria into the batter, and letting the batter ferment overnight. Neither Idli nor Dosa is an Instantly made dish (at least not traditionally), and while I’m all for quick fixes on busy weeknights, I also absolutely love meal planning ahead of time so I have a constant supply for fresh homemade Dosa Batter.
Most recently, I’ve been moving away from white grains and flour and incorporating more whole foods into my diet. I’m intrigued by intermittent fasting, and I’ve found that eating white rice – while an enjoyable experience – doesn’t satiate me long enough to withstand a 16 or 20-hour fast. That’s how I stumbled upon the Indian superfood: Millets, and there has been no turning back. I absolutely love the nutty, earthy flavors of the millet, and just how delicious it tastes with both South-Indian and North-Indian curries alike.
So while planning my meals, I decided to try my hand at making the Millet Dosa Batter. My hypothesis was: even if I don’t succeed in fermenting it well, it is still going to be edible, and it’ll still turn into a dosa! However, the experiment turned out to be a success, and I’m excited to share my millet dosa recipe with y’all.
What Millet to use for the Dosa Batter?
I used the Barnyard or Sama Millet for this recipe. However, I’ve also tried this with Kodo and Foxtail and they all turn out just as successful. The flavours may vary slightly, but overall, the batter ferments well, and you can make delicious and crispy dosas with them.
How do you ferment the Millet Dosa Batter?
If you live in a warm country, then you can just cover the batter, and leave it in a warm spot for the fermentation to occur. It could take anywhere between 4-10 hours depending on the temperature. Make sure there’s enough space in the container for the batter to rise. But here are a couple of ways to accelerate the fermentation, if you live in a cold region:
- Instant Pot Yogurt Mode: I’ve seen the best and most consistent results with Instant Pot. I add the batter to the Pot, close the lid, let the whistle on venting mode and set the Instant Pot to Yogurt Mode at Normal for 4-5 hours. If I’m fermenting overnight, I’ll leave it on LOW Yogurt mode for 8 hours. And both cases, the batter rises perfectly.
- Oven with the Lights Turned On: In case you don’t have an Instant Pot, but have an oven, preheat to about 150F or the lowest temperature it has. Then turn the oven OFF. Place the bowl with the batter (covered) in the oven. Turn the lights on and let it rest for 7-8 hours. If it gets too cold, you can take the batter out, pre-heat, switch off, and return the batter back into the oven. It’ll take a few trials and errors to give the right temperature for your batter to ferment.
- Portable Heater: And lastly, if you have a portable heater, just turn it on and place it in front of the bowl (not too close). The warmth from the heater will create a good temperature for the batter to ferment.
How long will the fermented batter last in the refrigerator?
Depending on the temperature of where you live and your refrigerator, the duration can vary. Even with the cold temp, the batter continues to ferment and turn sourer and sourer as it rests in the refrigerator.
Ideally, you should consume the Millet Dosa batter within 5-8 days.
Can you make Idli with this Millet Dosa Batter?
Generally, I do use my Idli and Dosa batter interchangeably. However, for this particular recipe, I did not like the texture of the Idli. The dosa however was flavorful, crispy and just right. I’ll continue to experiment and share an idli batter when I succeed!
Can you make a Millet Dosa batter with no rice?
Although this is a Millet Dosa batter, I did use some parboiled rice (Idli rice) to aid in the fermentation process. While there are recipes for millet idli and dosa that completely eliminate rice, I didn’t wanna do that because:
- With millets, I want to add some diversity to the grains I’m consuming, and increase my fibre and protein from natural food sources. I exercise moderation in my carb consumption, so I see no reason to completely eliminate rice
- Rice really helps with the fermentation process, and to be fair, I did cut it down by 50% in this recipe
- There are recipes with no rice too, and when I do try and succeed, I’ll be sure to share!
Here’s a quick video recipe on how I made my Millet Dosa Batter at home –
For the Millet Dosa Batter
- 1 cup Millets (I used Barnyard, you can use any Millet you like)
- 1 cup Parboiled Rice (Idli Rice)
- 1/2 cup Whole Urad Dal (Split Black Gram)
- 1 tsp Methi seeds (Fenugreek Seeds)
- Water, for soaking & grinding
- 1 Tbsp Salt (adjust to taste)
Other ingredients – to make the Dosa
- Vegetable Oil or Ghee
- Finely Chopped Veggies – optional
- Chutney or Sambar
The Dosa Batter
- Add the millets, rice, urad dal and methi seeds to a bowl. Wash 4-5 times until the water runs clear Soak it in a lot of water for 8 hours.
- Discard most of the water. Add grains to a powerful blender or grinder. Grind to a smooth and fluffy batter. Keep some cold water to add to the blender if the mixture is too thick to blend or it starts to heat up.
- Pour the fluffy batter into a large bowl (with a lid). Add the salt. With your clean palm, mix the salt into the batter and beat it really well for 3-4 minutes. Using your palm is important to incporporate the good bacteria into the batter.
- Cover and let it rest in a warm spot for 4-8 hours or untl the batter doubles in volume and ferments well. (*Refer Notes)
- Once it ferments, mix again with a spoon, pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Use as needed.
The Millet Dosa
- Take required portion of the batter in a bowl, adjust salt and consistency with water if needed. You can also add some chopped veggies into the batter and make a vegetable dosa / uttappam. Make sure the batter isn't too cold when you pour onto the pan.
- Pour one or two ladles of the dosa batter, and spread into a thin dosa. Add some vegetable oil or ghee and let it cook on medium heat for a couple minutes. When it's ready, flip and cook for a minute (or longer if you want crispier dosa). That's it!
- Serve the hot millet dosa with your desired condiments like chutney, milagai podi, sambar etc.
- I usually soak the grains around lunchtime, grind the batter at night, and let it ferment overnight so that I have fresh batter for breakfast the next morning. Be sure to plan your time, cuz you don’t want to under or over-ferment the batter.
- Fermentation Tips:
- Using your hand to mix and beat the batter: This part is crucial as it incorporates good bacteria into the batter, which aids in fermentation. Just wash your hands and beat and mix well for 3-4 minutes until the batter is fluffy.
- Place batter in a large bowl: During fermentation, the batter can rise twice its volume, so placing it in a small bowl will cause your batter to overflow. Make sure the batter is only reaching half the height of your container so that it has enough space to rise.
- Use Instant Pot Yogurt Mode: If you live in a cold place, chances are that your batter will not ferment if you just leave it outside. In that case, you can add batter to an Instant Pot bowl and place it on Yogurt Mode (normal for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours). This gives consistent fermentation results.
- OR Use Oven with Lights Turned On: You can also preheat your oven, turn it OFF, and place the batter with the lid on in the turned-off oven. Switch on the oven lights and let it rest. This will take some trial and error, but you can successfully create a conducive environment for fermentation in the oven too. Just be careful NOT to keep the oven turned ON while the batter is in it.
- OR Use a Heater: Lastly, if you neither have an oven nor an Instant Pot, you can also use a portable heater to create the warm environment that the dosa batter needs. Don’t place direct heat on the bowl, but place it a few feet away from the bowl. And let it go for 4-6 hours or until the batter has fermented successfully
- What happens if your batter still doesn’t ferment? – Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the fermentation just doesn’t happen. Don’t be disappointed though. This batter is still good to use, and you can still make dosas with it. It just won’t have the quintessential sour taste of dosa, and maybe a bit harder. But it is still edible.
If you want to check out more Indian Recipes, you may want to try –