Dosas: South Indian Rice and Lentil Crepes

There are some things I absolutely must, always have in my fridge–cilantro, coconut, yogurt, lemons, and dosa batter. If even one of these is absent, I get nightmares about having hordes of guests and not being able to serve them anything. If I have these fridge essentials, I can breathe easy.

Dosa batter. I don’t know too many people, at least in Bombay, who make their own dosa batter. Well, unless they’re South Indian. But a lot of South Indians in  Matunga and thereabouts buy their batter freshly ground by local South Indian vendors they can trust. The general junta, however, picks up cuddly bags of batter from the supermarket or local grocer and happily makes anemically white, limp, and unnaturally soft dosas. I agree that it’s super easy to simply go pick up a packet but really, is it worth it?

I make my own dosa batter. Not because I’m very worried about the adulteration in the store-bought batters but because I like my dosas crisp And brown. Have you eaten at Banaglore’s CTR? That’s what a dosa should be like–soft on the inside, and crisp and brown on the outside. And it’s really easy to make, too. I make the batter over the weekend, and it lasts me the week–Avanee and the girls want dosas on demand, and it makes me very happy to be able to give them a good, healthy snack that is so delightful. We eat them for breakfasts at least once a week with the chutney of the day, and wash it down with good old filter coffee. Use your favorite coconut/cilantro/mint chutney or open up a pack of MTR’s molgapudi, top it with some oil or ghee, and you’re in heaven.

Dosa batter: 

  • 1 cup urad daal (split black gram)
  • 3 cups short grain rice
  • 2 cups parboiled rice
  • 2 tbsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp. sugar (this aids the fermentation process)
  • 1 liter of water


  1. Wash all the ingredients and soak them in one liter of water for about 4 hours.
  2. Grind the soaked rice and lentil mixture until very smooth.
  3. Add the sugar and decant into a large bowl. Remember, the batter will double in volume.
  4. Leave covered in a warm place to ferment for about 6-8 hours, preferably overnight.
  5. Add salt to taste just before you want to make the dosas.

To make the dosas:

  1. Heat a heavy iron skillet/griddle or non stick tava.
  2. Sprinkle a few drops of vegetable oil and wipe them off with a halved onion that has been immersed in water. (I like to use a fork to make the onion holding easier.)
  3. Pour one small cup of batter on the hot  griddle and spread immediately, using a flat bottomed ladle or cup, in circular motions until you have a thin film of white batter.
  4. Sprinkle or spray a little vegtable oil.
  5. Allow to cook for about half a minute or until browned to your liking.
  6. Remove using a sharp spatula.
  7. Serve hot with chutneys.

Comments (7)

  1. chinmayie @ love food eat August 29, 2011 at 2:21 am

    Had dosas for breakfast today 🙂 i agree that it's the perfect breakfast! in my case perfect lunch and dinner too! lol…

  2. Ahalya August 29, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Interesting! My mum doesn't use two different kinds of rice, though that's an interesting thought. Am going to experiment with that. And the measurements… my mom says one cup urad and one and a half cup rice… I am going to try your recipe next time!

  3. Sayantani August 29, 2011 at 3:00 am

    I so want to make perfect dosas but mine never comes close to being perfect. dont know why it always stick or becomes thick. now that you have shown us some great videos why dont you also make one on dosa? these are just so good.

  4. Pradnya December 26, 2012 at 12:16 am

    I would love to try this out. The dosa looks fantastic.

    I’m not entirely certain about the short grain rice and the par boiled rice though. For the former, is there any specific variety I should look for? And is the latter also a variety I can buy from stores? Or is partially boiling whatever rice I have at home an option? I guess not.

    I tried looking it up but haven’t been able to find answers. If it’s not too much trouble, could you please tell me the Indian terms that could make my grocery shopping/locating easier? Hindi and Marathi terms would work best where I stay.

    • admin December 26, 2012 at 12:25 am

      Hi Pradnya,

      Short grain rice: Ask for Kolam or Ambe Mohor. These are vary commonly found in local markets.
      Par boiled rice: This is a fat, greyish rice that is commonly called “ukda taandul” in Marathi. You should be able to find this easily as well. Boiling it in water will not help.

      I hope this helps!

      • Pradnya February 14, 2013 at 11:08 pm

        I tried this recipe; it went very well. Must thank you. For the first time in my life, I did not have to call out to my mother in desperation because the dosas seemed to be sticking to the (non-stick) pan.

        Only they didn’t have the beautiful deep golden colour like yours seem to have. I’m sure I’ll get there someday. Thanks a lot.

  5. Pradnya December 26, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Yes, it does. Thank you very much. I am going to try this ASAP.

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