Dosas: Scrumptious Lentil Wraps
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Some describe them as pancakes. Some describe them as crepes. I describe them as absolutely delicious.
Flatbread is always a welcome item at our family dinner table. My preschool aged boys love to wrap their food up, even if it's saucy ground beef. My elementary aged daughter loves the tidiness of eating with something with which you can wipe your plate when you're finished. My husband and I just love flatbreads as the vehicle for carrying delicious foods to our mouths.
Flatbreads and wraps also make fabulous additions to a school lunch, as they are a convenient way to eat pretty much anything.
Dosas especially, however, are a special treat, because not only do we love South Asian food, like vindaloo and korma, but dosas are a gluten-free, lacto-fermented wrap-style flatbread that heartily satisfies and delights the tongue. Thus, not only are they delicious and practical, they're nutritious and easily digestible.
You're welcome to use nearly any type of rice and any type of lentil in this recipe, but I find that the brown rice adds a nutty undertone that I love and the red lentils are what I most typically have on hand. If you've got brown, black, green, or yellow, go ahead and use them!
Oh, and be sure to plan ahead for this recipe! They're very simple to prepare with little hands-on time, but the batter does need to sit for two days before it's cooked, so plan accordingly. 🙂
Dosas: Lentil Wraps
- 2 cups brown rice
- 1 cup red lentils or chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice, divided
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 tablespoons butter, ghee, or coconut oil, melted (add more if needed)
- Place the rice in a large bowl and cover with 4 cups filtered warm water. In a second bowl, repeat the steps by covering the lentils with 2 cups of water. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar to each bowl, then cover each bowl with a tea towel or other loose cloth and let both bowls sit overnight (8 to 12 hours) at room temperature.
- Drain water from both bowls, then in a food processor, blend rice and lentils separately, adding water to create to a smooth, creamy texture. I usually add approximately 2 cups water to the rice and 1 cup water to the lentils, but add the water slowly so the mixtures don't get too runny.
- Once both mixtures are very smooth, blend or stir both purées together with the salt, adding more warm water if needed to make the batter the consistency of thick cream.
- Pour mixture into a large bowl and cover, then let it sit for another 18-24 hours in a warm place, such as on top of the fridge. The mixture will expand - sometimes as much as doubling, depending on temperature - so use a bowl that's large enough to accommodate a bubbly, happy batter.
- When fermentation is complete and you are ready to cook the dosas, heat a dry, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until fully hot. Meanwhile, whisk in the melted butter and a bit of additional water, if desired. (The batter should be fairly thin: It should be pourable off a spoon, yet thickly coat the back of it.) Rub a sheen of butter on the pan with a paper towel, then pour 1/4 cup batter in the middle of the pan and using the back of a ladle, quickly swirl it to create a large circle.
- Cook until the bottom is nicely browned and the top is dry in both appearance and touch. Using a spatula, lightly lift the dosa off the pan, shaking a bit if necessary, and set aside in a warm place until ready to serve.
- And as I've said before about crepes, don’t stress too much if the first ones stick a bit – the first one or two pretty much always turn out as a disaster and make you question any kitchen ability you may or may not have (even after you’ve made these dozens of times). They still taste great, so just eat those less-than-brilliant samples while you continue to cook. If they continue to stick after the first two, whisk a few extra tablespoons of melted butter into the batter and cook as directed.
I’ve never tried to make dosas before, but I’ve tasted them and they’re wonderful. I’m going to pin this and try it later. 🙂
Hi Kresha! I’m really looking forward to making dosas, BUT, I have some questions. It’s just me & my husband and this recipe looks like it would make a lot of dosas. (OK, just re-read and saw it makes 20-24 dosas) Obviously, I can cut back the recipe. But if I don’t, how long will the batter last? Can it be refrigerated? If it can be refrigerated, does it need to come back to room temp before using? Thanks for your help! We’ve been looking for something to sub for bread since going gluten free and have OD’d on rice cakes!
Actually, these freeze beautifully, so I would recommend making the full recipe all at once, then place small stacks of them in bags in the freezer and just pulling out one bag to reheat in the oven whenever you’d like a new batch. (To reheat, just cover lightly and place in oven for 5 minutes at 350F.)
They should last 3-6 months in the freezer.
I hope that helps!
These look so good. I’m really looking forward to trying them, and Robbie asked the question that I was going to ask, and I appreciate your answer about freezing them…but just to clarify…do you put a piece of parchment or wax paper between each of them before freezing so they don’t freeze in a big clump?
You can go either way because yes, they do freeze in a big clump, so you can either freeze them all in one bag with pieces of parchment paper in-between or you can divvy them into small portions – say half a dozen per bag – and just pull out a bag and let it thaw when you want to use them. It just depends on whether you want to take the time to cut pieces of parchment or take the time to let them thaw when they come out. 🙂 Personally, I find it easier to do the latter, but you do have to remember to take them out of the freezer 2-3 hours before you want to separate them.
I hope that helps. Enjoy!
Oh, I can’t wait to try these. Thanks so much for adding the info about freezing them.
Do you know if freezing will negate the benefits of eating fermented foods? A google search did not give me a definitive answer.
No, freezing will not negate the benefits of eating fermented foods.
Heating fermented foods above 112F will kill the beneficial bacteria, but freezing them merely suspends them. They won’t grow any more until they’re back in a warm place, but freezing basically just puts them in a holding pattern. I don’t have specific data to show the potency of fermented foods that have been frozen and thawed, but many of the bacteria are certainly still alive.
That said, you may wonder why fermenting a dough (such as with these dosas) is beneficial, since the dough is then cooked. The benefits here come from letting the fermentation break down the grains and legumes to make them much more easily digestible, rather than ingesting actual active, probiotic bacteria instead.
Does that help?
These look delicious! What did you serve them with?
I use them as a side for curries, soups, and saucy dishes, but you can also use them as sandwich wraps, so basically anything I would use flatbread or a tortilla for.
Just to be sure that I understand: the rice and lentils are not cooked first?
Yes, that is correct. You are soaking and fermenting the raw lentils and rice, then pureeing them into a batter and cooking them then.
What do you like to serve these with? I’ve never had anything like it but it looks delicious and I’m popping it into our meal plan for the week!
Traditionally these are served with curries or any other South Asian cuisine, but in my house, they double as tortillas or basic generic flatbread to wrap up a sandwich or wrap grilled meats or vegetables. 🙂
These were wonderful. My 16yo daughter is gluten free and trying to find a flatbread or consumable wrap has been frustrating to say the least.
She loves these. Even the picky younger child like them.
What type of pan do you use? I tried both a stainless steal pan and a green nonstick pan…both stocked to the bottom like crazy and it is really gooey. I am wondering if it is because I used black rice? Or I used coconut oil instead of butter?
Well, the coconut oil shouldn’t make much difference and I wouldn’t think that the type of rice would make a *huge* difference, either. Here are a few ideas that pop in my head: Did the mixture sit longer than 24 hours for the second fermentation? Was the pan totally, fully hot before you added any batter? Was the batter thin enough to run off a spoon, but thick enough to coat the back of it? Did you pour in only a quarter-cup of batter? Changing any of those factors could either make them stick to the pan or create an extra-gooey batter.
Did that help at all?
Hi, I”m looking forward to trying these but need more info on the type of lentils to use. I have these orange colored dal lentils, are these the red lentils you used? Or are you talking about the reddish brown lentils one would make lentil soup with? Thanks
Either will work! I typically use the ones the first ones you mentioned (the flat red dal lentils) rather than the brown Padilla lentils, but again, either will work in this application. 🙂
I want to know if you cook the rice and beans before putting them in water
No, you place the rice and lentils each in their own water to soak while they’re uncooked. This soaks them and they absorb water while they sit, thus softening them.
I could not get them to stop sticking on the pan either. Whatever.
I have made with great success!! However, I also have been making soaked buckwheat crepes for a while in a low rimmed cast iron pan (found it at Wal-Mart for like $15!), so I am used to the correct temperature.
Love this recipe..I used basmati rice and red/orange lentils, my husband loves them too and between my buckwheat crepes and these ones, he prefers these for certain meat dishes and I’ve weaned him off pita bread (he’s originally from the Middle East so that was a tough one, but his digestive issues have cleared up).
Thank you for this wonderful recipe again!!
Could I use a mix of rice and lentil flours and skip the food processor? I’m not sure if I’m missing the point of starting with the grains, it would still ferment wouldn’t it?
Well, yes, it would ferment, but not in the same way. Part of the reason you start with whole grains is that after soaking, you can drain the soaking water, which will remove some of the starch and other things you’re not necessarily wanting to ingest. You can’t do that with flours. Also, the grains may begin to sprout, which again, won’t happen with flours.
So, yes, theoretically you could start with flours, but you’d have to change the liquid/grain ratio rather substantially because flours will absorb liquid far more than whole grains will (I’m not sure in what quantities, as I’ve not used flours), the batter will ferment at a different rate, and you’d miss out on the benefits of soaking.
So, I don’t recommend it, but if you do decide to do it that way, see if you can find a recipe from someone who’s done it that way, as I haven’t tried it and thus can’t advise you wisely in that regard. 🙂
I hope that helps!
Would I be able to use just lentils instead of lentils and rice? Would it still ferment as much and would it hold together?
Hmmm… I’m not sure. I would image that they would become very crumbly without the rice, but I’ve never tried it! I would ferment just fine – the issue would just be texture.
Sorry I can’t help more!
I have soaked the lentils and rice overnight, more than 12 hours. I have now put them in the processor and although the lentils have processed OK the rice is still a bit gritty. Is this normal and will it soften more in the second half of the process.
Well, it might still be a little bit grainy – it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth. However, they shouldn’t be hard. At this point I would just leave it, though, as yes, they should continue to soften a bit through the fermentation process.
I hope that helps! I hope they turn out fabulously! 🙂
Thanks Kresha, you were right they did soften a little more. I cooked two but they broke up when I tried to get them out of the pan. I must say though I really like the taste. I ate the pieces as they were. I am going to leave the remaining mix to ferment s little longer to see if that helps.
Great recipe that I shall use again!!
Oh, I’m so glad! And thanks for letting us know how it worked out – I’m sure it will help others as they troubleshoot too.
If they continue to be crumbly when you take them out of the pan, perhaps whisk a bit of melted butter into the mix to help it release from the pan better. Otherwise, they’ll still taste good either way. 🙂
Have a great day!
I love dosas and I’ve tried to make the dosa but it didn’t seem to ferment as right now we in winter time here in NZ. Is there something that I could do?
Well, at this point, if it doesn’t smell or look funny (if there aren’t any colored spots, it hasn’t turned ropy or stringy, it doesn’t smell “off”, etc) you can still use it.
In the future if you’d like to make other batches during colder months, you can kickstart the ferment by adding a bit of a starter, such as a couple of tablespoons of whey (the liquid drained from yogurt) or sauerkraut brine.
Does that help?
Good luck and enjoy!
Hi! This is a bit of an odd question but is there any substitute you would recommend for the rice? My son and I are allergic to it, yet these look fantastic and I’d love to try them out if you think something may work in the place of it. Finding GF flatbread/crepes/tortillas is a chore so if I could make one that looks this good and tastes great we’d all be singing 🙂 thanks so much! I really appreciate it!
Hmmm…. that’s a great question. I haven’t tried them without rice, but I’m sure there is a traditional recipe of some kind that doesn’t use rice, since I’ve seen similar recipes that use just lentils. However, I’m not sure if this particular recipe would hold up without the rice or whether it would become crumbly – although you could certainly try it! In that case, just double the lentils and skip the rice.
Also, perhaps google “traditional Indian flatbread” or “dosas without rice” or other similar keywords – I’m sure you’ll uncover something.
I’m sorry I’m not more helpful! Perhaps another reader could chime in with a suggestion or a recipe?
My batter didn’t double in size or even expand at all it seems. But, they still taste wonderful! Do you know the macro breakdown of them?
I have no idea, unfortunately! I’m sorry! Perhaps another reader could chime in?
I have never seen anyone add vinegar to the soaking liquid. Are you talking about real vinegar with a mother that is still fermenting?
I was an avid maker of all things fermented/sour dough until my husband was diagnosed with Celiac.
I have been trying several times now to make dosa according to my Indian friend’s recipe but it just won’t ferment.
I am using filtered water, clean jars, newer rice & dal but the dal seems to ferment but not the rice mix even though I added fenugreek to both parts then combined them. I soaked them overnight & then ground them separately being sure to not let the mix heat up to kill the yeast. I also tried different rice & different dal…both split gram dal & whole black dal for the nutrition. Funny thing is the dal when soaked already looks like it’s fermenting.
As I said I am used to fermenting wheat products so I assumed this really wouldn’t be any different although I used to sometimes add molasses or a bit of honey in the winter to give my sourdough a boost.
Any advice would be really appreciated!
Also my friend told me they add a bit of sesame seeds to the mix to help with making the Dosa crispy, while others vary the ratio of rice & dal to get to the right consistency either softer or crispier. She also said they use an onion to spead the oil on the pan.
Thank you Gigi
Goodness – I think you have more ideas than I do! All of those ideas sound lovely, but I haven’t tried any of them, so I can’t really say one way or the other whether they would work well or not.
As for the vinegar, all you need is an acidic medium, so you may certainly use a raw vinegar with the mother or any other store-bought vinegar – all will work in this case.
I’m sorry I can’t help more, but it definitely sounds like you’re on the right track, even with rice that’s slow to ferment. 🙂
Is there a reason the rice and the lentils need to be processed separately in the food processor since they’re getting added together anyhow? Is it because of the volume? (thank you for posting this!)
Well, it’s partially due to volume, but largely because you have better control on how much water needs to be added, which affects the final texture. The rice needs more water than the lentils, for example.
Obviously, play around with it and if you find it’s not worth the trouble, then feel free to puree them together, but I personally find that the final texture is smoother and the consistency is easier to control, so I prefer to do them separately.
I hope that helps. Enjoy!
Thank you so much for the quick response and the recipe, I really appreciate it! Can’t wait to try this!!
I did step 1 the day before Thanksgiving and didn’t drain them until the day after Thanksgiving lol I combined the rice and the lentils in the same dish because I wanted to try to make this as easy as possible and see if it would work. It did, it was giving off air bubbles in the water.
I put the mix in the food processor with 3 cups filtered water after draining. I should have started w/less since mine soaked for so long, they absorbed a lot of water already. It was pretty runny. I figured if it doesn’t thicken up some during fermentation I’ll add a little brown rice flour.
I blended them together for about 10 minutes in the food processor but they were still gritty so I did it in 3 batches in my blender, worked like a charm.
It’s now been sitting out for about 18 hours. There’s some bubble action going on but just put it in the dehydrator on 95 degrees to see if it would get it going even better. Can’t wait to try these!
I wanted to leave some “lazy man tips” for those coming behind me lol
-be sure to use filtered water as the chlorine in tap water can kill the yeast
-use a glass or ceramic bowl, metal can interfere w/the fermentation process
I’m going to be eating some of these in a few hours, I’ll let you know how they turn out 😉 I’m also going to be freezing the batter then bringing it back out for a day or two to see if it will bubble up again after freezing. I’m on a fermentation kick right now doing a lot of experimenting – the process is fascinating to me.
Thanks for sharing all your experiences and great tips!
I forgot to add the vinegar to the first round of soaking! Is it too late, or can I still add it in? Thank you!
I should also clarify that the rice and lentils had already soaked overnight. I was about to drain and put them in the blender, when I re-read the recipe and realized I forgot to add the vinegar!
I just tried this recipe and did not have success. I consider myself a good cook, but this turned out awful. In the morning after soaking, the mixture did not double or even bubble. So I put the bowl in a warmer spot and got a few bubbles. I added the melted butter and water to make a thin batter and yes, the first few fell apart but I kept trying to cook them. They never would hold together and they just tasted gooey. Ugh. Waste of ingredients. I don’t think that I will try this again.
I’m so sorry these didn’t turn out! Fermented grains and legumes are definitely finicky and how they act when they ferment definitely don’t reflect on your abilities as a cook – I’ve had batches that use exactly the same ingredients (down to the brand) but depending on the season, the humidity, the location we’re living, etc, have turned out differently. I’ve never had them taste gooey, though, so I’m curious what caused that in your batch.
I have found that, like with many recipes, once you’ve made them a few times, you have an intrinsic sense of what the batter is supposed to feel like in each stage so you can more easily make adjustments. Obviously, I totally understand your frustration to feel like they were a waste after so much time and fiddling, so I hope you find a recipe that works well for you!
I tried it! It came out lovely. (Only one pan worked, so frying them took quite a while🤭)
Interesting, I have never heard of this before.
I might have to try these out. Great swap out for a healthier option.