Savory Dosas Recipe (South Indian Pancakes)

Savory Dosas Recipe (South Indian Pancakes)

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 72 mins
Soak and Ferment: 20 hrs
Total: 21 hrs 22 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Yields: 24 dosas
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
2579 Calories
289g Fat
7g Carbs
2g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 2579
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 289g 371%
Saturated Fat 180g 899%
Cholesterol 743mg 248%
Sodium 47mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 16mg 1%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 52mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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.

Dosas are made from soaked and drained rice, fenugreek seeds, and urad daal, 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 dosas 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 daal

  • 3/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

  • 2 3/4 cups water (plus more for soaking)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Ghee (or vegetable, canola, or sunflower oil)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Savory Dosas Recipe (South Indian Pancakes) ingredients

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. Wash the rice and urad daal 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 daal for dosas

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. The next morning, drain all the water from the rice mixture. Add to a high-speed blender and process—adding 1 3/4 cups ice-cold water—until a smooth yet slightly grainy paste has formed.

    rice in a food processor

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and gradually add another cup of 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 / Cara Cormack

  5. Add salt (or 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, covered with a towel

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  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.

    utensils and ingredients for cooking the dosa

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  7. Fold 1 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.

    grease the skillet

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

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

    dosa batter in a skillet

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  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 / Cara Cormack

  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.​

    brush dosa with ghee

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  11. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes, or until the upper surface begins to look cooked (it will no longer look soft or runny).

    dosa cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  12. Then, flip the dosa. By this time, the surface that was underneath should be light golden in color. Cook for 1 minute after flipping.

    dosa cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  13. 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 / Cara Cormack

  14. 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.

    clean the surface of the pan with a paper towel between dosas

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  15. Repeat until you've used all of the batter.

    Savory Dosas Recipe (South Indian Pancakes)

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Storage

  • Any leftover batter can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to three days.

Tips

  • 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.
  • If your room temperature is cool, fermentation will take longer. If the batter has made little or no progress after 12 hours at room temperature—it will be frothy and should have nearly doubled in volume—place the covered bowl in the oven with the light on (or proofing cycle) for another 4 to 6 hours.
  • The batter may be fermented in the Instant Pot on the yogurt cycle for about 12 to 14 hours.
  • While a wet grinder needs only a small amount of cold water to grind the rice and daal, a high-speed blender or food processor needs more, about 1 1/2 to 2 cups.
  • A high-speed blender will produce a smoother batter than a food processor.
  • Make sure the water is very 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.


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 dosas with less-than-healthy dishes, so keep fillings and accompaniments in mind.

What Kind of Rice Is Best for Dosas?

Short-grain parboiled rice, such as idli, is most often recommended for dosas, but any short or medium grain rice will work.

How Much Batter Is Used for Each Dosa?

Use about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of fermented batter for each 8- to 10-inch dosa.