Instant Millet Dosa (Jowar or Sorghum)

Made with the goodness of an Indian super grain jowar|sorghum, this instant dosa is a nutritious, no blend and no fermentation dosa. Combine the ingredients, rest a bit and you are set for a healthy, restaurant style dosa at home. Serve with Indian pickles or coriander chutney for that ultimate crunch and taste experience!

Fancy an inexpensive crispy dosa or crepe for your next brekkie or lunch? It’s familiar, it’s exotic and it’s one of the best pancakes in the world. Today I am making a Crispy Instant Millet Dosa (jowar or sorghum) using an ancient grain called jowar or sorghum instead of plain flour. It is a brittle crepe served with just the right chutney and in this case, my pista green no onion, no garlic and no ginger coriander chutney. One bite into this savoury paper thin crispy brown crepe and my family vouches that its moreish!

Its the little things that make family times special!

what’s a dosa?

A dosa, dosai, tosai or thosai is one of the best pancakes in the world and is South India’s daily bread. Simply put, a dosa is a pancake made with a ground fermented batter of rice and lentils, the idea of which came from South East Asia, where fermentation of many foods was more common. A basic dosa is fried on a grill called tawa.

A basic dosa is different from a ‘masala dosa’ or ‘paper dosa’ as in paper-thin, as is called in Chennai. It originated in the local kitchens in the Udupi region of the South Indian state of Karnataka. It is one of the most popular Indian breakfast breads not only in India but in all Indian restaurants around the globe!

The distinct variation lies in the crisp brown shell and the subtle crunch of the first bite of the masala dosa. A masala dosa is so long, close to 30cm (if you buy at a restaurant) and sticks off the plate. It is usually served with a potato filling, one or two chutneys and sambhar (a type of lentil stew). The filling and the chutneys add to the taste of the dosa.

Eating dosas and masala dosas is second nature to me. Of late, I have been experimenting on a dosa that is different, yet has similar crunch and the mouth-warming aroma of a masala dosa. I wanted a dosa that is tasty and easy to make on a week day. I decided to create a ‘Millet Dosa’. Millet dosa is made with a batter of ‘jowar’ or ‘sorghum’, semolina and rice flour, with a few herbs for added flavour and taste.

When fried correctly, this dosa is crispy, tasty and mouth-watering!

what is sorghum?

Sorghum is the English name for an ancient grain similar to a wheat berry. It is called Jowar in India, guinea corn in West Africa, broom corn, durra and imphee in the USA and Kaoliang in China. Indeed, even within India, it is called in different names – Indian millet, great millet, Jonna in Andhra Pradesh and cholam in Tamil Nadu.

Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop in the world. It is grown for human consumption in parts of Asia and South Africa. It is also grown in the USA for livestock feeds and ethanol products.

It can be consumed as breakfast porridge in its whole grain form, served as a healthy side dish, sprinkled on salads, stirred into soups and stews. It can also be popped just like pop-corn for a healthy snack.

So, what does this grain taste like? In its whole-grain form, it tastes similar to a wheat berry with a chewy texture and slightly nutty flavour. In my opinion, the flour is mild and earthy with a faintest twinge of bitterness to it.

Sorghum flour is milled with the entire grain and therefore it retains all its nutrients. Compared to rice based foods, sorghum based foods have significantly lower glycemic load, according to a study in the Journal of the Science of food and Agriculture (June 2015). Its gluten-free and makes a perfect pantry staple for those who are managing a medical condition.

The flour is used in making gluten-free cakes, breads and other baked goods on its own or combined with other gluten-free flours.

Because of its whole grain benefits, the flour makes a popular choice for home cooking globally, and is beginning to appear in some fine dining menus.

why USE sorghum flour?

  • It does not contain gluten and makes a great alternative to wheat and barley.
  • As it is gluten-free, it is recommended for people who have gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
  • It has a higher content of calcium compared to rice and wheat.
  • Besides calcium, it is packed with iron, protein and fibre compared to rice and barley.
  • The presence of antioxidants in fairly large amounts in Sorghum is believed to improve heart health.
  • Contains high magnesium levels and considered good for bone health.
  • Apart from the well-being factors, this grain is environmentally friendly as it is drought-resistant. It produces good yield with limited water supply.

ingredients in the instant millet dosa

Let me go through what you need to make these deliciously crispy dosas. First, we make the instant batter, which means that this dosa batter does not need fermenting. The ingredients are combined together to form the batter. The batter is then set aside to rest for 20 minutes and you are ready to fry the dosas.

the DOSA batter

  • Jowar or Sorghum flour – The flour is mild and earthy with a faintest twinge of bitterness to it. The whole grain and flour is fairly accessible in many Indian supermarkets. If you are unable to buy it at your local Indian supermarket, find at Udaya Stores in Wentworthville or Liverpool, NSW (I buy at Ravi’s House of Spices, West Ryde, NSW) or at some health food stores.
  • Rice Flour – Added to give a softer consistency and enhance the taste of the dosa. I use the common Asian grocery store brand called Erawan (Elephant) brand. This rice flour is milled from long-grain rice and packaged in a 500g plastic bag. Note the “Rice Flour” is in red lettering. Do not buy the “Glutinous Rice Flour” which is in green lettering. Glutinous rice flour will not work as this flour is very sticky once heated. Some Woolworths and Coles supermarkets also stock these flours. Next time you are at Woolworths or Coles, check availability in their Asian section.
  • Fine Semolina – Helps crisp up the dosa really well. Find at your local supermarket or in large grocery stores in Australia, placed right next to the plain/all-purpose flour. I usually buy Maharaja’s Choice Semolina that comes in 1kg plastic bag.
  • Ginger, green chilli, coriander and curry leaves – Finely chopped and added adds heat and a good dose of flavour.
  • Grated coconut – Freshly grated coconut makes the dosa tasty. I use freshly grated frozen coconut. Find at your local Indian supermarket, Udaya Stores in Wentworthville or Liverpool, in their freezer section. Remove 3 tbsp. frozen coconut from the packet. Defrost and add to the batter. Keep the packet frozen and use as required.
  • Cumin seeds – Adds additional flavour to the dosa. Cumin seeds and ground spices are fairly accessible these days in the spice section of large grocery stores in Australia. If you are unable to buy cumin seeds, you can find at all Indian supermarkets or Asian grocery stores (some have Indian section).
  • Onion – Roughly chopped and sprinkled on the base of the pan before adding the batter. Gives a savoury crunch to the crispy dosa.

Dosa frying video

step-by-step instructions

A dosa starts off with an instant batter by combining the flours, semolina, herbs, grated coconut, cumin seeds and water. The batter does not need to be fermented however, it needs to be rested for 20 minutes for the semolina to soak up.

You will find full instructions and measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. This is the summary of the process to go along with the process photos.

In a deep wooden or glass bowl, combine flours, salt and semolina

Add chilli, ginger, coriander leaves, curry leaves, cumin and grated coconut

Add water gradually and make a thin flowy lump free batter. Set aside for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, stir the batter well.

If the batter has thickened, add another 50mL water gradually. Combine well

Do not add more water if the batter has not thickened

To fry the dosas, heat a medium non-stick frying pan on medium to high heat. I use my cast iron griddle

You know the pan is hot when you see tendrils of smoke rising to the surface

Grease the pan lightly with a silicon brush (See video above if in doubt)

I have a piece of onion as the camera object without which my camera will not focus!!!!

Sprinkle 1 – 2 tbsp. chopped onion on the hot pan

Stir the batter well.

Using a ladle, pour about 1/4 cup (100mL-120mL) batter on to the pan/griddle, in a circular motion from a height of approx. 8cm – 10cm, till you have covered the surface of the pan

There is no need to spread the dosa as the batter is thin and flowy

If in doubt, watch a quick video above

As soon as you pour the batter, reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 2 minutes

While cooking, sprinkle 1 tsp. oil on the surface

Sprinkle 1 tsp. of oil on the edges. This helps the dosa to crisp on the edges

Brush the top of the dosa to distribute the oil evenly

After approximately 2 minutes, the bottom of the dosa will crisp up and the edges will lift. Loosen the edges by pushing the spatula gently under the edges

Check bottom for crispiness. If not crispy, leave for another minute

Once the dosa is crisp on the bottom, flip the dosa and fry for a further 2 minutes or until the dosa has crisped up. Do not burn the dosa

Note that both sides of the dosa will not crisp up equally!

The dosa is ready to serve!!

Crispy to the bite and tasty on the tongue, it is mouth-warming much before it hits your palate!!

Repeat Step 6 till all batter is used.

NOTE: You must stir the batter well after frying each dosa to remove any settling before cooking!

The batter should be thin and flowy as shown in the opposite image

Serve immediately:

With chutney and Indian style pickle of your choice or

Potato filling

I served them with my most delicious pista green no onion, no ginger, no garlic, coriander and curry leaves chutney

It is a perfect condiment with these dosas!

what to serve with dosa

what to do with leftover batter

  • Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To fry dosas, bring the batter to room temperature. Stir batter well before frying each dosa to remove any settling. Fry as shown in the video and enjoy!!
  • These dosas are not suitable for reheating as they tend to go soggy.

If you have tried this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback. Please be sure to rate the recipe and/or leave a comment below. If you want to see more recipe inspirations, you can follow me on Instagram @lavina_mendonsa.

Instant Millet Dosa (Jowar or Sorghum)

Instant Millet Dosa (Jowar or Sorghum)

Catherine Lavina Mendonsa
Keen to try out an instant home-style crispy dosa or crepe? Made with the goodness of an Indian super grain called jowar or sorghum, this is a nutritious, no blend and no fermentation dosa. Just combine the ingredients, rest a bit and you are set for a more-healthy, restaurant style dosa in the comfort of your own home. Serve with Indian style pickles or coriander chutney for that ultimate crunch and taste experience, any day of the week!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course All day snack, Breakfast, Brunch, Light meal, lunch
Cuisine Indian, South Indian