Easy to Make Dosa (South Indian Pancakes)

Dosa, South Indian Pancakes

The Spruce

  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Soak and Ferment: 20 hrs
  • Servings: 6 to 10 servings
  • Yields: 20 dosas

Dosas are crispy, savory pancakes that are a staple food in South India. Dosas are hugely popular in the rest of the country as well, and Udipi restaurants serve them along with other South Indian foods in almost every suburb.

Dosa is made from soaked and drained rice, fenugreek seeds, and urad dal, also known as black lentils. Blended in a food processor and combined with water, the mixture makes a thin batter that ferments until flavorful. The fermentation adds a lightly sour flavor to dosa similar to sourdough. The batter is spread out on a hot pan and cooked similar to a crepe until crisp and delicious.

Dosas are typically eaten with your hands and can be dipped in curries and chutneys. Or stuff with a filling of mashed potato and peas with spices.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups white rice
  • 1 cup urad dal (split, skinless black gram)
  • 3/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Ghee (or vegetable, canola, or sunflower oil)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Dosa ingredients
    The Spruce 
  2. Wash the rice and urad dal well and drain. Add the fenugreek seeds to the mix and add enough water to the bowl to cover the mixture by about 2 inches. Soak overnight.

    Soaking rice and dal for dosas
    The Spruce
  3. The next morning, drain all the water from the rice mixture. Add to the food processor and process—adding very little water if needed—until a smooth yet slightly grainy paste has formed.

    Rice in a food processor
    The Spruce
  4. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and gradually add enough water to make a batter. The consistency of the batter should be such that it thinly coats a spoon dipped in it.

    Rice-daal mixture in a bowl
    The Spruce
  5. Add salt to taste and keep the dosa batter aside in a warm, dark spot, covered, for 12 to 24 hours. After this fermentation, stir the batter well. It will have thickened to coat a spoon thickly. It is now ready to make dosas.

    Dosa batter in a bowl
    The Spruce
  6. Put some ghee or oil in a small bowl and keep ready. You will also need a small bowl of ice-cold water, a large, flat nonstick pan, paper towels, a ladle, a spatula, and a basting brush.

  7. Fold one sheet of paper towel into a thick rectangle and dip 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.

  8. Add a scant ladleful of batter to the center of the pan, much like you would for a pancake.

    Dosa batter in a pan
    The Spruce
  9. Begin to spread the batter in sweeping circular motions to form a pancake of roughly 8-inch diameter. Do not be alarmed if the dosa develops tiny holes as you spread the batter. This is normal.

    Swirling dosa batter in a pan
    The Spruce
  10. As soon as you have finished spreading the batter out on the pan, dip the basting brush in ghee and drizzle all over the surface of the dosa and around its edges. Hold the pan by its handle, lift it up, and swirl it so that the drizzled ghee spreads all over the dosa.​

  11. When the upper surface begins to look cooked (it will no longer look soft or runny), flip the dosa. By this time, the surface that was underneath should be light golden in color. Cook for 1 minute after flipping.

  12. The dosa is almost done. Fold it in thirds like a parcel and allow to cook for 30 seconds more.

    Folded dosa in a pan
    The Spruce
  13. Before you start making the next dosa, fold another sheet of paper towel into a wad and dip it in ice-cold water. Squeeze to remove excess water and then rub it all over the surface of the pan to cool it slightly. This ensures your next dosa will spread evenly and not break because the pan is too hot.

    Homemade dosas on a plate
    The Spruce
  14. Repeat until you've made enough dosas. Any leftover batter can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 3 days.

Tip

  • We like to make and serve dosas immediately while we cook so they are crisp and fresh when eaten. If that's not possible, you can also 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.

Are Dosas Healthy?

Dosas are low in calories and fat, and the fermented dough may also be beneficial to your health. However, the potential benefits can be overshadowed by serving dosa with less-than-healthy dishes, so keep fillings and accompaniments in mind.