How to Maintain a Cast Iron Pan

This post is about maintaining a cast iron pan or griddle, specifically to make crispy dosas.

Cast iron cookware is the best! Like seriously, the best ever! Let me start over. If you are trying to select a new range of cookware, I would sincerely suggest you to get Cast Iron cookware. If you are trying to restore a rusty, age-old cast iron pan that has been passed on you from your great-great-Grandmother, go ahead, take it! You can make it work, I promise!

Cast iron cookware are super sturdy, can be passed on from generation to generation, are super healthy than a non-stick pan and they cook beautifully! You get this beautiful sear on whatever you cook, be it meat or vegetables. But this post specifically is about how to maintain a cast iron dosa pan. It definitely has a bit of a learning curve but once you get the hang of it, you get the best dosas ever.

Below is a shot of beautiful dosas made on a cast iron pan.. do you see how cripsy they are? You can find the recipe here: Steel cut oats dosa

Crispy dosas on a plate with chutney, sambhar and pickle

Why Cast Iron cookware though?

  1. Its healthier to cook in a cast iron than a non-stick pan because there are no toxins released into food.
  2. After the initial coating or seasoning, you don’t need to add much oil for cooking. It basically becomes a non-stick pan. It cleans up easy too, food doesn’t stick to it.
  3. Can be used for high-heat cooking and on any surface. Gas, electric, induction, any stovetop and it can be directly moved to oven to finish cooking. You can use it during camping too.
  4. It cooks any food beautifully and Boosts your iron levels by naturally adding iron to your meals.
  5. Very inexpensive compared to any other cookware.
  6. Lasts for years and can be passed on to the next generations.
  7. But as I said, from dosa perspective, a dosa made on a cast iron griddle is the best kinda dosa ever.

Seasoning a new cast iron griddle:

Lets see how to maintain or season a new the cast iron griddle/Pan . I have a lots of cast iron cookware and here, as we are learning about dosa pans, I recommend this lodge cast iron griddle

  • Wash and rinse the pan. Immediately, dry it off with a clean kitchen towel.
  • Apply oil generously on all sides of the pan, on the bottom and handle too, and put it in the oven upside down.
  • Line the bottom shelf of the oven with an aluminum foil. Bake the pan for 1 hour at 350F. Let it cool down completely.
  • Now heat the pan until its smoking and add oil and salt to the pan. Rub the salt all over the pan and dust it off when the pan is cold enough to handle.
  • And that’s it, your pan is ready to make dosas. The dosas will not turn good for the first 20 times but after that, OMG, crispy dosas galore.
  • After you are done making the dosas, wipe the pan clean while its still hot and let it cool down. Store it away and do not wash it everytime.

Scraping and Re-Seasoning a cast iron griddle:

Lets see how to maintain or re-season an old cast iron pan or griddle. You need to use a little elbow grease here, its a good arm workout seriously! A dosa pan doesnt need to be washed everytime, just wipe it with a paper or cloth towel when its hot and store it away. But a layer of grime will get deposited over time and we need to scrape it off and re-season it. And this is how. 👇 I wash my dosa pan once in 3-4 months.

  • Now soak the pan in soap/baking soda water for 10 min. Scrape the pan really hard to remove all the grime. Wash it with soap, rinse with water and dry it off with a kitchen towel.
  • Apply oil generously on all sides of the pan, on the bottom and handle too, and put it in the oven upside down.
  • Line the bottom shelf of the oven with an aluminum foil. Bake the pan for 1 hour at 350F. Let it cool down completely.
  • Now heat the pan until its smoking and add oil and salt to the pan. Rub the salt all over the pan and dust it off when the pan is cold enough to handle.
  • And that’s it, your pan is ready to make dosas. The dosas will not turn good for the first 20 times but after that, you will get great dosas.
  • After you are done making the dosas, wipe the pan clean while its still hot and let it cool down. Store it away and do not wash it everytime.

Seasoning a new/scraped out cast iron pan with no-oven method:

Don’t worry if you don’t have an oven to season your new/scraped cast iron pan. Seasoning can be done on a stove top on high heat. Lets see how to maintain a cast iron pan with no oven.

  • Wash and rinse the pan. You need to wash a new pan as well. Then dry it with a kitchen towel.
  • Heat on the stovetop until its smoking. Add oil and salt and rub it all over, very carefully as the pan will be super hot.
Rubbing salt on the pan.
  • Dust off the salt when its cold enough to handle. Wipe it with oil again and store it away.
  • You don’t need to do this seasoning step every time. Just wipe the dosa pan clean after making dosas, that’s it!

A few do’s and don’ts:

  • Never ever touch the handle of the cast iron pan while its hot. Always use a silicone handle cover or a kitchen towel to hold the handles.
  • Do not use the dosa pan for anything else. Dosa pan and roti pan should be separate.
  • It takes longer to heat up and is definitely very heavy. So be very careful handling it.
  • Cooking acidic foods in bare cast iron pan is not recommended.
  • Needs a little maintenance as compared to enameled cast iron pan. So use your elbow grease. And do not put it in the dishwasher.
  • And lastly, don’t ever drop it. Its so heavy, its gonna dent your floors.

And lastly, a comparison picture of before and after of the pan after the seasoning.

Comparison shot of before and after pictures of pan.

A few important things to note while making dosas.

  1. Do not wash your dosa pan very often. I wash it once in 3-4 months. I just wipe it clean with a clean and dry towel while its still hot and store it away when it cools down.
  2. Do not use the pan you use for dosas for anything else. Its strips off the coating/seasoning and will not work out for the next batch of dosas. I keep a separate pan for dosas and rotis, both cast iron.
  3. Once your pan is hot, add a tsp of oil, wipe/spread it all over the pan with a clean towel. Then you can start making dosas. Wipe your dosa pan with the same towel after you make each dosa.
  4. Another good trick followed by so many people while making dosas is to rub an onion half on the pan after each dosa.
  5. My mom does the scraping of the dosa pan a bit differently. She heats the pan on super high heat and scrapes it on the stove top while its still hot. I am little bit of wimp to do it when its hot. If you are daring enough, please do try it on stovetop. 😀

If you have any more questions, please leave a comment and I will try my best to help resolve the issue.

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