A dosa is a famous thin crepe from South India that looks similar to a pancake. However, it is a type of soft, thin Indian pancake, and the thinner the pancake, the crispier the Dosa. It is made with fermented rice and lentil batter. Dosas have a rich history, and in the olden times, Dosa was made using only rice. As time went on, people started to add Ural dal (black lentils), which gave the Dosa its unique crispness, texture and flavour.
The Dosa became popular in restaurants in a city called Udupi, which is in the Karnataka region. The rise of the Udupi restaurants in South India has evolved the Dosa, and now many varieties are served, such as plain Dosa, Set Dosa, and masala dosa. If you want to make homemade Dosa, let us guide you on the process. Cooking the Dosa doesn't require much time, although the fermentation process requires 8 hours.
The fermentation process involves soaking and blending black gran lentils (urad dal) and rice to a batter. When ready the fermented batter is spread like a crepe on an Indian tawa frying pan.
The Dosa can be made using a blender to blend the rice and water into a batter or grind the rice into a flour and then add liquid. As Dosa is made with lentils, it makes for a protein and calcium-rich, low-calorie meal.
Raw rice is the best rice to use to make the dosa batter, but using a combination of parboiled rice and uncooked rice can work with good results too. Whilst you could experiment with rice types like basmati or any other rice of your choice, traditionally, short grain or Sona Masuri rice types are the best.
Adding salt to the Dosa is an essential aspect as it can ruin the dish if done incorrectly. This is because of the complicated fermentation process; for example, the climate can affect the results, so can the type of salt you use and when you add the salt to the batter.
You may have to experiment with the salt adding process until you get it right. As the batter has to ferment for many hours, the batter could go smelly. To prevent this from happening, you can add non iodised salt like rock salt or sea salt before the fermentation as these types of salt will also assist with the process.
In a hot country, it is crucial to add salt just before making the Dosa. Most Indians add salt after the fermentation process unless they live in cooler regions of India like Bangalore.
Depending on whether you add salt before or after, this will affect the taste, which is why you should experiment and choose what works for you. Make sure to avoid Iodised salt by all means if you are adding it before fermentation, as it will prevent the batter from fermenting. Here is our Indian dosa recipe.
The traditional Indian Dosa is classic comfort food that is typically eaten for breakfast or as a starter. The savoury, crunchy Dosa originated in southern India in the region of Karnataka. The flavours are simple, and whilst the recipe is usually very complex due to fermentation processes, we have simplified it for you
- White rice (3 cups)
- Urad dal (1 cup)
- Fenugreek seeds (3/4 teaspoon)
- Water (3 cups)
- Salt (1/4 tsp)
- Vegetable, canola, sunflower oil or Ghee
- Start by washing the rice & Urad daal well and then drain. Add Fenugreek seeds to the mix, add enough water to the bowl to cover the mixture by about 3 inches, and then soak overnight.
- In the morning, drain the water from the rice mixture, then add the soaked rice, urad dal, and fenugreek seeds to a high-speed blender. Then add about 2 cups of cold water until a smooth, yet slightly grainy paste has formed. Then transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl & gradually add another cup of water to make it into a batter. The Consistency of the batter should be such that it thinly coats a spoon dipped in it.
- Add the salt and keep the Dosa batter aside in a warm, dark spot, covered, for 12 to 24 hours to ferment. After this fermentation, stir the batter well. Then the batter will have thickened (you can test again with a spoon). The fermented batter is now ready to make delicious Dosa.
- Put some ghee or oil in a small bowl and keep ready. We will also need a small bowl of ice-cold water, a large flat non-stick frying pan Tawa, a paper towel, a spoon, a spatula, and a basting brush.
- Fold one sheet of kitchen paper into a thick rectangle & dip the folded paper towel lightly into the bowl of Ghee or oil. Squeeze out any excess and then rub the paper towel all over the surface of the pan to lightly grease. The Ghee or oil should barely be visible in the pan.
- Turn on the heat to medium-high. Then add a scant ladleful of batter to the centre of the pan. It's much like you would do for a pancake. Spread the batter in a sweeping circular motion to form a pancake of roughly 8 – inch diameter. It is common for the Dosa to develop tiny holes as you spread the batter.
- When you have finished spreading the batter, dip the basting brush in Ghee and drizzle over the Dosa and around its edge. Hold the pan by its handle, lift it, and swirl it so that the drizzled Ghee spreads all over the Dosa.
- Continue cooking the Dosa for 2 ½ minutes, or until the upper surface begins to look cooked, it will no longer look soft or runny. Then flip the Dosa to ensure both sides are well cooked. By this time, the underneath should be light golden—Cook for a further 1 minute after flipping.
- When the Dosa is almost done, fold it into a third, like a parcel and allow it to cook for 30 seconds more. Before you start making the next Dosa, fold another sheet of paper towel into a wad & dip it in ice-cold water. Squeeze to remove excess water and then rub it all over the pan's surface to cool it slightly. Doing this ensures that your next Dosa will spread evenly and not break because the pan is too hot. Repeat this process until you've used all the batter and enjoy.
Tips & Storage
Any leftover batter can be refrigerated, tightly covered for up to three days. We like to make and serve dosas immediately when cooked to ensure they are crispy and fresh when eaten. If that's not possible, you can make, stack, and serve the dosas later. Just ensure you keep them warm until serving time by placing them in a closed dish. They will lose much of their crispness but will still taste delicious.
A high-speed blender above 500 watts is recommended for making Dosa as it will produce a smoother batter than a food processor. Make sure the water is cold to prevent overheating the rice mixture and the appliance. If the blender becomes hot, turn it off and let it cool for 30 to 45 minutes. If the Dosa batter has been refrigerated, let it stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking. Use a bowl large enough to allow the batter to double in volume. If there is a danger of the batter overflowing, place the bowl on a rimmed baking sheet.
When serving your traditional Indian Dosa, you should pair it with chutney, potato masala or Tiffin Sambar.
Set dosa recipe
- Rice (2 cups)
- Poha (1 cup)
- Urad dal (1/2 cup)
- Methi/fenugreek (1 tsp)
- Oil (1 tsp)
- salt (2 tsp)
- Water (for soaking)
Wash urad dal and rice. Put the rice and urad dal in a bowl and soak in water for 5 hrs. In another bowl, soak poha for 30 min. After soaking, grind the urad dal and rice. Add cold water a little at a time and grind it to a fluff batter. And grind poha after grinding rice.
Mix rice batter and poha batter in a bowl. Add salt needed and mix well. Close it and leaves it to ferment for 7-8 hrs. After fermentation, mix the batter well. Heat pan, add little oil and pour a batter in pan and spread in a circular motion. The Dosa has to be thick. Cook covered on medium heat. Flip the Dosa and cook uncovered for few minutes. So spongy set dosa is ready to serve with coconut chutney, which has its origin in Tuluva Mangalorean cuisine of Karnataka.
Masala dosa recipe
- Rice (2 cups)
- Methi (1/2 tsp)
- Urad Dal (1 cup)
- Chana dal (2 tbsp)
- Poha (1 cup)
Firstly, in a bowl, take 2 cups of rice and half tsp methi. Rinse well and soak in water for 4 hrs. In another bowl, take 1cup of urad dal and 2 tsp chana dal, rinse well and soak in water for 2 hrs. After soaking the dal for 2 hrs, transfer the dal to a grinder. In the same grinder, add soaked rice and 1cup rinsed poha and blend it into the batter. Transfer the rice batter and urad dal batter to a bowl and mix well. Ferment in a warm place for at least 8 hrs. After fermentation, add 1 tsp salt and mix well. Masala dosa batter is ready.
Then add a ladleful of batter to a hot pan. Spread as thin as possible for making crispy Dosa and place 2 tsp of prepared aloo bhajia in the centre. Roast until the Dosa turns golden brown and crisp and roll gently. Finally, the masala dosa is ready to serve with coconut chutney or sambar.