Dosa, Dosai or Dosay is one of the culinary delights from South India that is originated in what is now southern Indian state of Karnataka (Source: Wiki). If soft, spongy and fluffy Idli is called as the queen of South Indian breakfast then undoubtedly crispy and delicious Dosa is the undisputed king of South Indian breakfasts!!! Loosely translated as crispy, savoury pancakes or crapes, the varieties of Dosas can range from popular and very famous Masala Dosa (Rice crepes stuffed with spicy potato curry) to the lesser known Adai (lentil based crepes) and Uttappam (pancakes cooked with vegetable toppings).

Some of the popular varieties of Dosas are,
Sada/Plain Dosa: Regular dosas made using fermented rice and lentil batter.
Rava Dosa: Instead of the regular fermented rice and lentil batter, this dosa is made with semolina (rava) as the main ingredient. This batter doesn’t need fermenting and the dosa is lacier with crisp texture.
Masala Dosa: It is same as Plain/Sada Dosa but has spicy potato curry stuffing. It is the most popular Dosa.
Mysore Masala Dosa: Mysore is a beautiful ‘palace city’ from south Indian state of Karnataka. This type of Dosa is smeared with spicy red chutney (either in a form of paste or powdered form) and stuffed with spicy potato curry.
Paper Dosa: This is an extra-crispy Dosa and is as thin as paper. It can be served as Plain Dosa or along spicy potato curry.
Onion Dosa: This is made using usual fermented batter of rice and lentil and is served with lightly fried red onions.
Ghee Dosa: Here, Ghee or Indian clarified butter will be used in copious amounts in the making of this Dosa.
Set Dosa: Here soft, spongy dosas made using fermented batter of rice and lentils are served in a set of two or three along with spicy Potato curry.
Benne Dosa: Very popular Dosa from a city called Davanagere in Southern Indian state of Karnataka. Benne in Kannada means butter and as the name suggests, big dollops of butter is served along Dosas.

Regular and most common Dosa batter is made using rice and split black lentils that are soaked in water and then ground to smooth paste. This batter is then fermented overnight or for one full day. The batter is then poured into hot, greased Tawa/griddle and spread out into thin circles and cooked with oil or ghee (clarified butter) till golden brown and crisp. Unlike pancakes, Dosas are golden brown and crisp on one side and white and soft on other side. These crispy savoury pancakes tastes great as they are but when served with Sambar (Vegetables cooked in spicy lentil gravy) or Chutney (usually made using coconut, tomato etc which are in wet paste form and also made using lentils and selected spices in powdered form) they are nothing short of heaven!

Dosa, Crispy Savoury Rice & Lentil Crepes

Recipe: Plain/Sada Dosa (Crisp savoury rice and lentil pancakes from Southern India)
Prep Time: 4-6 hours of soaking time & 8-14 hours of fermenting time (depending on temperature)
Cooking Time: 3-5 mins per Dosa
Makes: 12-15 large Dosas
Shelf Life of Dosa Batter: 3-4 days after fermentation when stored in refrigerator (in cool climate or 2-3 days in hot climatic regions)
Cooking Level: Beginner/Easy to Intermediary
Recipe/Post by: Sia

2½ cups Rice (Use either Raw rice/Long grain rice/even broken Basmati rice)
1 cup Urad Dal/Split Black Lentils
¾ - 1 heaped tbsp Methi/Fenugreek Seeds
¾ - 1 cup Avalakki/Poha/Beaten Rice (Optional. If you don't want to use Poha, increase the amount of Rice used to 3 cups (when using sturdy mixer grinder) or 4 cups (when using wet grinder))
¾ - 1 tbsp Salt (Adjust acc to taste)
Water for grinding

Special Utensils:
Wet grinder or Mixer or Food processor for grinding
Non-stick Tawa/Griddle or Cast-iron Tawa/Griddle
A ladle for pouring the batter and spreading it
Wooden (if using non-stick tawa) or metal (if suing cast-iron tawa) spatula
Lid to cover the Tawa/Griddle
Thick paper towel or large peeled onion for greasing the tawa/griddle (if using cast-iron tawa)

For Dosa Batter:
  1. Take rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds in a large bowl and wash them 3-4 times to remove dust and other impurities.
  2. Once washed, soak them in enough water (2 inches above rice-lentil level) for at least 4-6 hours or preferably overnight.
  1. The next morning, drain water from soaked rice and lentils.
  2. Add poha/beaten rice and grind them in batches, adding little water, to a smooth paste. The best equipment to grind is wet grinder or heavy duty Mixer but food processor will also work just fine.
  1. Once the rice-lentil is ground, transfer it into a large mixing bowl so that the batter doesn’t overflow when it ferments.
  2. Add salt to taste and enough water to make batter. The consistency of the Dosa batter should be of pouring consistency such that it thickly coats the spoon dipped in it and it should be easily spreadable.
  3. Cover and keep it in a warm place for 8-10 hours or overnight for the batter to ferment well. If you are living in a cold climate, heat your oven at 50 degree C for about 5 minutes and switch it off. Place the mixing bowl/container (make sure it is not plastic container) in oven and close the door. Or simply switch on the oven light and place the bowl right under it for the batter to ferment.
  4. You can also place this bowl over a large plate as when batter ferments and rises, there is a chance of it pouring down on counter-top. By placing big plate underneath you just have to clean the plate and not end up cleaning the messy countertop of oven!

Step by step instructions for preparing Dosa batter

Dosa Preparation:
  1. Mix the fermented batter well and keep it aside.
  2. Heat the tawa/griddle on medium flame.
  3. If using cast-iron tawa, fold the paper towel into a wad and dip it into a bowl of cooking oil. Gently squeeze the wad to remove excess oil and rub it all over the griddle to grease it. Or, cut peeled onion in half. Pour a tsp of oil in the centre of griddle and use halved onion and rub it all over the griddle. Back in my native, we use dried yellow pumpkin stem to grease the griddle.
  4. Increase the flame to medium-high.
  5. Depending on the size of your tawa/griddle, pour ½ - 1 cup of batter on centre of tawa/griddle (similar to as you would for the pancakes). Now begin to start spreading the batter in sweeping circular motion starting from centre using back of the ladle.
  6. Cover the griddle with lid and reduce the heat to medium flame. Cook it undisturbed for 2 minutes.
  7. Open the lid and you will see tiny holes formed on the surface of Dosa. Drizzle a tsp or more of oil/Ghee on the surface of Dosa and also around its edges and let it cook for another minute till its upper surface is cooked well (it will no longer look soft or runny).
  8. Using wooden (for non-stick griddle) or metal (for cast iron griddle) spatula, carefully remove the Dosa from griddle and flip it. Ideally, the cooked surface should have turned golden brown in colour and crisp. Allow other side to cook for another minute after flipping.
  9. Once cooked on both sides, flip the dosa again and fold it in half and transfer it to clean and dry plate.
  10. Repeat the same procedure to make Dosas. Grease the griddle (if using cast-iron tawa), pour the batter, spread it in circular motion, cover and cook, drizzle oil/ghee, flip and cook, fold and serve!

Serving Suggestions:
  1. It is best to serve Dosas immediately as soon as they are taken out from tawa to enjoy the crisp and delicious Dosas. Dosa is usually accompanied with Chutney (Coconut chutney, Chutney Powder, etc) or Sambar (lentil based vegetable gravy). Some also prefer them with Honey and Ghee/Butter. And there is another popular way of serving dosa and that is with Potato Bhaji specially made for Dosas and is known as Masala Dosa.
  2. You can also make a stack of Dosas and serve later, just like pancakes. Just ensure to keep the Dosas warm till you serve them in a closed dish. However, these Dosas will not be as crisp as the ones you serve immediately.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Generally the ratio of Rice:Urad Dal is 3:1 if using sturdy Indian Mixer Grinder or Food processor and the ratio of Rice:Urad Dal is 4:1 if using wet grinder. This ratio may vary from one household to another.
  • If long grain rice or raw rice is not available in nearby stores, you can also go ahead and use broken Basmati rice. I have been using them since past one year and they have never failed me in making crisp Dosas.
  • The tawa/griddle should be heated at right temperature and hence it is best to keep them at medium-high flame. If it is over heated, there are chances of Dosas getting broken while spreading the batter.
  • If the tawa is over heated, fold a sheet of paper or paper towel into thick wad and dip it in a bowl of cold water. Squeeze excess water and then rub it all over the surface of griddle. This will cool the tawa/griddle slightly and ensure that the Dosa will spread evenly without breaking.
  • Addition of Poha/Beaten rice gives that wonderful golden colour to the Dosa and also makes the dosa very crisp (A tip from my MIL). If you do not want to add poha/beaten rice, then increase the quantity of Rice used to 3 cups instead of 2½ cups.
  • Addition of ½ tsp sugar to dosa batter results in nice brown rings tracing the motions of the ladle as even slight sugar can caramelize without adding flavour or taste!
  • Addition of fenugreek seeds not only helps in fermenting the Dosa batter, it also gives nice spongy texture and acts as a cooling agent to our body.
  • Use of sesame oil enhances the taste of Dosa.

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  1. Nags // 24 April 2009 at 13:27  

    I love the way you have posted the step by step ingredients :)

  2. Alka // 24 April 2009 at 13:44  

    cool...I mean the crispy dosas look cool ..err i mean Hot..err know what i mean...these look like sending an invitation to grab and finish them off and i wish i was in some restaurant right now, to shriek..1 plate masala Dosa , extra sambhar aur chutney ke saath
    Superbly compiled details...all in all lovely and handy post

  3. Parita // 24 April 2009 at 14:11  

    I love crispy Dosas, they my all time favorite, love the step by step pictures :)

  4. Ramya Vijaykumar // 24 April 2009 at 15:28  

    Nice crispy dosas... Pics are very clear...

  5. Khaugiri // 24 April 2009 at 22:07  

    Nice discription. Even we love crispy Dosas directly from cast-iron tawa.

  6. Poornima Nair // 25 April 2009 at 00:20  

    The dosas look so crisp, just wanna grab that dish...

  7. Kalyani // 25 April 2009 at 01:16  

    I love crispy dosas ...... Love the step by step process ... great pictures ...... thanks for the post ............

  8. Madhu // 25 April 2009 at 01:33  

    Love dosas..Beautiful post and droolworthy pics..

  9. rekhas kitchen // 25 April 2009 at 08:56  

    I run behind dosa s specialy masala dosa s beautiful crisp pic. make s me drool

  10. Sujatha // 25 April 2009 at 09:07  

    Looks fantastic & crispy!! Want to have a bite right now..

  11. Pavithra Kodical // 25 April 2009 at 09:17  

    Very well explained..And ohh dosa is looking crispy and yumm.

  12. Vcuisine // 25 April 2009 at 10:03  

    You make it special Sia. Well done. Viji

  13. Arch // 25 April 2009 at 11:35  

    Brilliant looking dosas Sia...mine never turn out this good, must try with your instructions

  14. Arch // 25 April 2009 at 11:38  

    Brilliantly crisp dosas...must try again with your instructions, mine are never his crisp

  15. Kitchen Flavours // 25 April 2009 at 12:40  

    Crisp and yum.

  16. Vibaas // 25 April 2009 at 20:44  

    looks nice and crisp. i like the king better than the queen (idlis) :D

  17. Pavithra // 25 April 2009 at 22:32  

    Loved the step by step description, pictures looking great. Good job..

  18. meeso // 25 April 2009 at 22:55  

    Who would not loves these if they tried them? A lot of people that say they like Indian food, have never even heard of these... wow, and this is one of the best parts of all the cuisines! Great post!

  19. Pooja // 25 April 2009 at 23:51  

    The dosas look crispy. Great shots :)

  20. A_and_N // 26 April 2009 at 08:07  

    I love the step by step pics :)

  21. SMN // 27 April 2009 at 09:40  

    yummy... all time fav. very nice narrated sia..

  22. Sia // 27 April 2009 at 15:04  

    Thank you, friends! I am glad to know u found the post useful :)


  23. Vani // 28 April 2009 at 02:13  

    Very nicely written, Sup!

  24. Michelle // 29 April 2009 at 19:26  

    Easy to follow instructions to prepare the dosas.
    I have a question : do you have to soak the poha or use it as is???

  25. Sia // 29 April 2009 at 19:55  

    @Michelle, as I have mentioned in the post, poha is directly ground along soaked rice-lentil mixture. Poha not only gives soft texture to the dosa, but also gives lovely golden colour when cooked.