Dosa: South Indian Crepe

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Dosa/Dosai is a famous south Indian crepe which is popular all over India. Yes every South Indian has grown up eating with dosa. I love it as my mom used to make it every day. It is basically made with rice and hulled spilt black gram which is soaked overnight and next morning grind it into a fine paste and allowed to ferment for 8 hours. I am making dosa nowadays not as breakfast but as dinner most of the time.
Dosa is one of the ancient crepes, which is mentioned in Sixth century AD Tamil Sangam literature; however its modern counterpart Idly comes in around the 10th century AD and is mentioned in the book The Illustrated Foods of India A–Z 1st Edition by Dr. K.T. Achaya. It is considered that dosa originated in the Udipi region of Karnataka. If one dish can survive this long and also able to sustain its majesty even during the MacDonald’s fast food era, then it is great by itself.
I have personal reason to love this dosa not only as this is one dish I have grown up with it, but also a story attached to it. When I was young girl or maybe even a toddler; I would not eat most of the food and was a picky eater. My grandma (dad’s mom) used to make crispy dosa for me and would try to feed me pointing to cats and birds outside the home. I was so found of eating dosa, when I started talking I called her Tochammai ( dosai ammai, means mom who gives me dosa). I called her like that till her death. When I grew up my aunts and uncle told me why you are calling her Tochammai, call her grandma. I asked her Tochaammai nan unnai appadi koopadama, ennku onneai vera perili koopdiamudi yathu. (I call you tochammai, I don’t think I can call you by any other name). She told me unnakku enna pidikumo athu koopidu, nan unnayudae tochammaithan epppovum. She told me you can call me by that name; I will be your tochammai always. Now she is not with me, but still I fondly remember her every time I make dosa. She was a great cook I ever met, and she never asked me to learn cooking; she told you can learn it when you want to. Now you study, and I just did that. I still remember her staying awake with me while I was studying for exams, and she makes black coffee for me to stay awake.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, dosa is only thing I loved to eat, but I have to stop that in the middle of pregnancy, when I had gestational diabetics. Yes even If I took one or two dosa it was fine, if I went ahead and ate one more, my blood sugar started shooting up. Now my two kids love dosa a lot, if dosa is for dinner they will be happy to eat with little ketchup.
Dosa making is a family affair now. Every Friday I soak both rice and lentil in the morning, and in the evening, and my hubby would grind both rice and lentils in grinder and keep it in a plastic container, and after fermentation I will keep them in refrigerator. My ratio of making good dosa is, 2 cup of raw rice, 1 cup boiled rice and 1 cup of hulled spilt blackgram (urad dal). I do not add any fenugreek seeds. I like to grind the rice and lentils separately and then mix them. Also I won’t add salt before fermentation. I will add salt only when it is ready for making.
I have seen recipes adding, flattened rice flakes (poha), or cooked rice to dosa batter while grinding. I follow my grandma’s recipe without any add-ons. Also I like to eat dosa, while it is warm. Best way of eating dosa will be taking from the skillet to plate. It goes well with coconut chutney, idly milagai podi, sambar or even potato masala.

In my home state there is one store called Pai Dosa which makes 36 varieties of dosa, by adding egg, vegetables, idly milagai podi etc. If you ask me which I love, I will say plain dosa without any add-on’s or masala dosa with spicy onion and potato filling.
During our honeymoon trip in Mumbai, near Aurangabad, we had a funny episode, both husband and wife never had paper dosa in our life time. So in the menu when we saw it, we both ordered. Actually we ordered two. But the server told us, he will bring one and if you guys finish you can order the next one. We are happy and once paper dosa served both hubby and wife eyes were out, it is really huge, extending from one end of the table to other end. But we did enjoy most of the dosa, and thanked the nice server for not bringing the second one.
If you want a gluten free crepe/ pancake, which is delicious give it a try, or even look for a chance to eat, as it is one of 50 best food of the world, so don’t miss it in your life time.

Dosa: South Indian Crepe


Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 20

Delicious gluten free crepe made with rice and lentils.
  • 2 cups raw rice/ (pachari)/chawal( You can use basmati rice if you can't find long grain rice)
  • ½ cup par boiled rice/ukda chawal
  • ¾ cup skinless split urad dal (skinless black gram)
  • 2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Indian gingerly oil/ Nallaennai ( You can use Vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil if you can’t get hold of gingerly oil)
  • Water for grinding
  1. Soak both rice together and dal separately in bowl to cover them about 2" deep. Soak 8 hours or overnight.

  2. The next morning, drain all the water from the rice and urad dal. Wash two three times and drain and put some in a food processor/ grinder and grind - adding very little water if necessary - to a smooth yet slightly grainy paste. You need to grind both rice and dal separately.
  3. When all the rice-daal mix is ground like this, put it into a large mixing bowl and add enough water to make a batter. The consistency of the batter should be such that it thickly coats a spoon dipped in it.
  4. Keep dosa batter aside in a warm, dark spot, covered, for 6-8 hours. After this fermentation, stir the batter well and add salt. It is now ready to make Dosas.
  5. Heat skillet, then add a little oil in the skillet and brush well with kitchen towel through all the sides to grease the pan.
  6. The correct amount of oil is such that it is barely visible on the pan. Now turn on the heat/ flame at medium high.
  7. Fill ¼ cup of batter in the ladle. Gently pour this batter onto the center of the pan - just as you would for a pancake - till the ladle is empty.
  8. Now begin to spread the batter in sweeping circular motions to form a pancake of roughly 8" diameter. Do not be alarmed if the Dosa develops tiny holes as you spread the batter. This is normal.
  9. As soon as you have finished spreading the batter out on the pan, dip the basting brush in cooking oil and drizzle the oil all over the surface of the dosa and also around its edges.
  10. When the upper surface begins to look cooked (it will no longer look soft or runny), flip the Dosa. By this time, ideally, the surface that was underneath should be light golden in color.
  11. Allow to cook for 1 minute after flipping.
  12. Continue make the dosa by greasing the pan again and then add batter then oil and filliping the other side and cook until you finish the entire batter or make enough dosa you need. You can refrigerate the batter for future use.
  13. Serve the ready Dosa with side dishes like Coconut chutney, Idly milagai podi and sambar.
Copyright ©2014 Zesty South Indian Kitchen by Swathi(Ambujom Saraswathy) All Rights Reserved.

Other type of dosa are

Gothambu dosa/ Whole wheat flour crepe/pancake

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  1. Amrita says

    The dosas look yummm…can we use any rice or basmati rice instead of raw rice for making the dosas?

    • Swathi says

      I used long grain rice, raw rice/normal rice. If you can’t find them use basmati rice Par boiled rice is pulinkal arisi/Puzhungalari/ Ukda chawal.

  2. says

    Swathi, I think the dosas came out really spongy. Lovely pictures there.Had a good laugh about the honeymoon story :)

    I always make sure to soak some fenugreek seeds along with the lentils as it can really make the dosas spongy. One other tip is to add cooked rice when grinding the batter as it can help giving dosas a deeper red/brown and rustic color which makes it even inviting and also makes it crisper. You can even make instant dosa if you make the urad dal to dry and make it as powder. Coconut chutney is the best combo ever with dosas.