I take great pride in being able to season cast iron Tawa perfectly. But two weeks ago when I went to my mother’s home, I was humbled by the stubborn cast iron Tawa I found there ( or so I thought).
My mom makes Dosa in a large nonstick Tawa and the cast iron aficionado in me couldn’t bear to see that. Though she has a cast-iron Tawa, she prefers her nonstick Dosa Tawa which is in fact an anomaly among nonstick cookware. While most nonstick cookware last for a year or two, this Tawa has been serving her well for more than half a decade.
In a bid to pursue her to use the cast iron Tawa lying idle, I decided to make my Dosa in it. The surface of the Tawa appeared slick like a well-seasoned Tawa. Though it has been lying idle for a really long time, the surface did not have even a speck of rust on it.
The batter hissed on the hot Tawa and I sprinkled some ghee on it. But when the time came to release the Dosa from the Tawa, it was stubbornly stuck. I thought it is probably because of the disuse and ate mom’s dosa made in nonstick Tawa.
Later, I thoroughly seasoned the Tawa. But still, the Dosa wouldn’t budge from the Tawa. Finally, I decided to take it back to my home to check what was wrong. And that is when I realized that Dosa doesn’t get stuck just because the Tawa isn’t seasoned properly. There are many more reasons for it. So, after experimenting with my mom’s Tawa and as well as talking with a few other cast iron aficionados, here are the top 6 reasons I found why Dosa gets stuck to the Tawa.
Yes, unseasoned Tawa is still one of the main reasons why Dosa gets stuck to the Tawa. Often, it is not the whole Tawa, but the seasoning here and there that has flaked off. This happens especially around the edges of the Tawa where you scrape using the spatula to release the Dosa. In such cases, you notice that the edges of the Dosa may be hard to release, but the rest comes off easily.
If this is the cause, you may have to season the Tawa by applying oil, especially focusing around the edges and heat till the oil starts smoking. You can check our in-depth article on how to season cast iron cookware on stovetop here.
Too Low Flame
This is what I infer is the reason why Dosa was getting stubbornly stuck on my mom’s cast iron Tawa. At her home on the 8th floor of a high-rise building, the kitchen is always windy. Her old gas stove too adds to the cause. As a result, the stove’s flame is often too low. This doesn’t affect Dosa made on nonstick Tawa, which is an excellent heat conductor.
But, cast iron is not a good conductor of heat. Cast iron Tawas often have a temperature difference of 60-90 C between the centre and the edges. So, when the flame is too low, the edges barely get heated. As a result, the batter doesn’t crisp enough to smoothly release from the Tawa.
In such a situation, you may have to identify the cause of your stove’s low flame and sort it out. Also, take care to always place the Tawa on the largest burner.
Using Raw Rice
The quality of the dosa batter is yet another reason why dosa gets stubbornly stuck to the Tawa. If you use raw rice or if you add too much Poha while grinding the batter, your dosa may get stuck and end up a mess. So, avoid raw rice and use idli or parboiled rice for making Dosa batter. This is also good for making soft and fluffy idlis.
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Not enough grease
Unlike nonstick Tawas, cast iron Tawa need sufficient oil so that Dosa releases without much effort. Take it with a pinch of salt if anyone says cast iron Tawa becomes nonstick with sufficient seasoning. Because it never does. Unlike Teflon (PTFE) coated nonstick pans, you can never cook on cast iron without oil.
So, apply a thin layer of oil and ensure that the Tawa is warm enough before you spread the batter. Also, after spreading the batter, spread some ghee or oil over it, especially on the edges.
Poor quality Tawa
The quality of the cast iron Tawa also matters. Poorly constructed cast iron may have microscopic cracks and air bubbles that prevent proper conduction of heat. In such cases, no matter how well you season, the results won’t be ideal.
Using Tawa For Other Purposes
Often people use the same Tawa for making Dosa and Chapathi. The burnt bits from the chapati may damage the seasoning of the Tawa and as a result, your dosa won’t come out well. So, always keep separate Tawa for Dosa and Chapathi.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There may be many more reasons why Dosa gets stuck on to the Tawa. If you have any tips to share, please do drop them in the comments.
If you are looking to buy a new cast iron Tawa, our top recommendation is Dynamic Cookware Cast Iron Tawa. You can also look at our article on best Dosa Tawas to check our in-depth hands-on review.
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Improper or insufficient fermentation of batter also contributes to the sticking…