South Indian Food

South Indian Dosa recipe

Dosai is the ever-popular South Indian breakfast of crispy crepes made with fermented rice and lentil batter. With just a handful of ingredients learn to make the classic Dosai recipe from scratch with my easy video and step-by-step photos. I also cover making your own dosai batter in a blender or mixer-grinder, tips on fermentation and cooking dosai to help you make the best dosai – crispy, soft and so good to dunk in a bowl of Coconut Chutney or piping hot Sambar.

About Dosa

Dosa also called as dosai (in Tamil language) is a famous and popular South Indian breakfast or snack in India as well in the rest of the world. Dosa are basically crispy or soft crepes made with ground and fermented lentil and rice batter.

To make the batter, first the lentils and rice are soaked in water for 4 to 5 hours. They are then ground separately to a fine consistency.

Then both the lentil batter and the rice batter are mixed with salt in a wide bowl or pan. This batter is then allowed to ferment overnight or for 8 to 9 hours.

After the batter is fermented, it increases in volume, has a pleasant fermented aroma and a slightly sour taste. A well-fermented batter makes the best dosa. You will also see many tiny air-pockets in the batter.  Making the batter and then fermenting it is such a joy that I always look forward to making fermented foods like dosa and Idli.

The fermented batter is poured on a seasoned cast-iron pan or skillet (tawa) and spread like a pancake and cooked till crispy and golden with a drizzle of oil or ghee.

Type of Lentils

The lentils used to make dosa batter are husked and split Black Gram. These are also known as Urad Dal in Hindi. The other English names of urad dal are Black Matpe Bean, Mungo Bean and Vigna Mungo (botanical name).

Urad dal is available whole as well as split. To make dosa, you can use either the husked whole urad dal or the husked and split urad dal. Both these types of urad dal have an off-white color. The black husks on them have been removed.

For a crispy dosa adding 2 to 3 tablespoons chana dal (husked bengal gram) works wonderfully. Some variations also include adding both 2 tablespoons of chana dal and 2 tablespoons of tur dal (pigeon pea lentils).

You can also add about ¼ cup moong lentils to the batter. Though urad dal forms the bulk of the lentils, but for a mixture of various proteins, consider adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of lentils like chana dal, tur dal, moong dal or masoor dal (red lentils).

Type of Rice

The rice used to make dosa batter can be short or medium-grained white rice or parboiled idli rice.

A basic dosa recipe will just have rice, urad dal and salt. The proportions for making dosa vary and by changing the proportions you can alter the texture by having a soft thick dosa to a thin dosa or a crispy dosa.

The addition of some more ingredients like flattened rice (parched rice or poha), different types of lentils also changes the texture. The color also varies from

Many readers ask me what is parboiled rice and idli rice. So I will mention it.

  • Parboiled rice is rice which is partially cooked in their husks. Later they are dried and milled. They are also known as converted rice. Parboiled rice is used for making steamed rice, savory rice porridge (which we call kanji) and snacks too.
    • Idli rice is a type of parboiled rice and is specifically meant to make idli or dosa. But I have also steamed them and they taste great with sambar or any other curry or stew. Note that you can use also make the batter with only regular white rice. I personally prefer the Indian varieties of sona masuri or parmal rice.
    • Regular rice is polished white rice where its husk, bran and germ have been removed.

    So we can sum up that there are many varieties of dosa that can be made with textures ranging from crisp to soft to fluffy to light. These varying textures are due to the proportion of the rice, urad dal and other ingredients used in the dosa batter recipe. That said, dosa can also be made with brown rice or hand-pounded rice.

Why This Dosa Recipe Works

Plain dosa is also called as Sada dosa. The word “Sada’ means plain or simple. Truly so as this humble Sada dosa is served without the potato stuffing (potato masala). So you relish the dosa with just the coconut chutney and sambar.

The Sada Dosa recipe I am sharing here is what I generally make. The dosa batter recipe uses 3:0.75 proportions for rice and lentils respectively. Apart from the rice, I also add some flattened rice (poha) for softness and fenugreek seeds (to help in fermentation).

Adding flattened rice adds a touch of softness to the dosa. So this dosa recipe makes for crisp as well as soft textured dosa. This is how we prefer them at home.

In this recipe, I have used a mix of idli rice and regular rice. But you can also just use idli rice or regular rice. Both sona masuri and parmal rice also work well in the recipe. In the video, I have shown making the dosa with idli rice only.

The dosa batter that is made with this recipe will finish up the whole batter in a day for a family of 3 to 4. In summers, I usually make a lesser proportion as the batter tends to get sour quickly. While in winters, I double the proportions.

I have also ground the rice and lentils together as this much quantity my mixer-grinder can accommodate without grinding them separately. But if you increase the proportions, then do grind the lentils and rice separately.

This is a foolproof tried and tested dosa recipe and you can easily scale the recipe. If doubling or tripling this dosa recipe, then soak urad dal + methi seeds in a separate bowl. Grind urad dal and methi seeds separately. Grind rice separately. Then mix both the batters in a large bowl or pan.

This dosa batter is a 2 in 1 batter as it can be used to make Idli, Uttapam and Paniyaram. The best part of this dosa batter is that you can make the dosa thin, crisp as well as thick. It is up to you. I make both. With the same batter, you can make a variety of dosa.

being an opaque white to pale golden or reddish or golden.

Source: Dassana’s Veg receipies