Akin to savoury crepes, the Indian breakfast option that’s recognised throughout the country but is specifically south India’s pride, the humble dosa makes for a quick, no-frills bite on hurried mornings. The dosa recipe involves a thick batter of ground rice and lentils poured on a flat pan or tawa, cooked until one side crisps turning slightly brown while the other side boasts a soft, fluffy texture with slightly sour notes. The dosa has travelled all the way from south India throughout the Indian subcontinent, winning hearts even in the West.
One of the most ancient dishes, said to date back to the 5th century and born in Udupi, these crispy crepes or pancakes, are also called dosai or dosay. Traditionally made from lentils, it was only recently that rice found itself in the dosa recipe, making the dish what it is today. While dosas can be made using idli batter, the crispy dosa is an indulgent alternative in comparison to its steamed counterpart, the idli. Despite other fast foods such as burgers and pizzas taking over, dosa has retained its popularity and continues to rule the roost. Dosa even featured on CNN’s list of 50 Best Dishes Around the World in 2011 along with tacos from Mexico and lasagna from Italy.
Dosa is also considered a healthy food as it is rich in carbohydrates and is easy to digest. Moreover, a plain dosa, made using little or no oil, contains around 100 calories. It is for this reason why the dosa also makes an appearance as a main course or side at lunch or dinner.
Masala Dosa Recipe
The most popular version of dosa is the masala dosa recipe. The dosa comes with a stuffing of turmeric-stained spicy potato fry. The masala dosa recipe can be a quick-fix meal when those hunger pangs kick in. Not only does masala dosa make for a filling meal, but can also be prepared in a jiffy, provided you have the dosa batter and aloo sabzi in place. Here’s a basic south-Indian style masala dosa recipe to make one of the most comforting foods:
For the Dosa Batter
500 gms parboiled rice
100 gms split urad dal
3 gms Fenugreek (methi) seeds
5 gms sugar
Salt, to taste
For the Potato Masala
200 gms potato, boiled and peeled
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp asafetida (hing)
4 to 6 red chillies, whole
2 green chillies, chopped
3 to 4 curry leaves
1-inch ginger, chopped
2 small-sized onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp Red chili powder
A handful of coriander leaves, chopped
Oil or ghee, for frying
Salt, to taste
Method for Masala Dosa Recipe:
Pre-Prep: Making the Dosa Batter
1. For the dosa batter, soak the parboiled rice in some water for a couple of hours, preferably 2 to 3. Do the same for the urad dal and methi seeds in a separate bowl.
2. When ready, grind the parboiled rice to a coarse paste in a mixer. Separately, grind the soaked methi seeds and split urad dal into a fine paste. When grinding, you can add water as required, however, both the batters should be thick in consistency.
3. Next, in a big mixing bowl, pour both the batters and mix well. Cover the batter and keep it in a warm place for about 6 to 8 hours or leave overnight. The batter mix will ferment and increase in volume.
Making the Masala Dosa Recipe
4. Add salt and sugar to the dosa batter and mix using a whisk to remove any excess air. Use this batter right away to make your dosas or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
5. For the potato sabzi, mash the potatoes in a bowl and keep aside.
6. Next, in a heavy bottom pan, heat some oil and when hot enough, add in the mustard seeds and allow to crackle.
7. Then add the asafetida, ginger, green and red chillies, onions, and give it all a good stir.
8. Later, add in the dry spices - red chili powder, garam masala, turmeric powder, and salt to taste.
9. Once the onions begin to turn translucent, add the potatoes and combine well. Garnish with some freshly chopped coriander.
10. To make the dosa, heat a nonstick flat pan and over medium heat, drizzle some ghee or butter. To make crispy dosas, be generous with the amount of butter, oil or ghee that you use on the tava. The more, the better!
11. The key to the perfect dosa, apart from getting the batter’s consistency right, depends on the temperature of the griddle. Only when the tava is hot enough, pour in half-a-cup of the dosa batter and spread using the base of the bowl. You could again drizzle some oil or butter to make the dosa crispy on either side.
12. When slightly done, place the warm potato filling on one side and let cook for a few minutes. Later, roll the dosa and serve hot.
Masala Dosa Accompaniments
Traditionally, the masala dosa is served with accompaniments like sambar, a lentil-based stew, coconut chutney, tomato chutney or ginger chutney, and at times even some spiced lentil powder called podi or gun powder. But if you’re looking for more interesting accompaniments to go with dosa, here are some interesting dosa combinations for you to try.
Other Quirky Masala Dosa Fillings
The masala dosa experience doesn't end here. The basic masala dosa recipe allows room for experimentation, where you can substitute the basic potato filling with other veggies or even sprouts. Click here for more such ideas – from meaty to healthier versions, you will never get bored of this crispy crepe. Besides, the masala dosa is also a perfect way to make the most of your leftovers. In case you got a little too excited and made excess of your sabzis or meat dishes, simply reduce them by cooking on a pan, then toss the semi-dry filling over your dosa and enjoy as a quick on-the-go snack. With such healthy and easy to make ideas, you’ll never want to skip breakfast again!
Once you’ve got your dosa batter in place, you can get as creative as you want. Some of the popular variations include the paper dosa, a crispy and paper-thin variation; the multigrain dosa, for the health conscious; Mysore masala dosa, a fiery red or green chutney-laden dosa; the rava dosa, made from semolina; and dosas made using fillings of cheese and paneer. Besides, you could also give this ragi dosa recipe or watermelon dosa recipe a try. To spoil yourself a bit, this chocolate dosa recipe and cheesy dosa recipe make for perfect cheat meal options.
Other South Indian Offerings
If you’re someone who can’t get enough of South Indian cuisine, you could treat yourself to some other healthy and nutritious dishes such as idli and sambar. Apart from idlis, south India also boasts of other nutritious breakfast staples such as uttapams, which can be served alongside an assortment of cold chutneys and hot sambars. Apart from the common south Indian offerings, here are some of the lesser known breakfast options, courtesy of the south. Besides, if you’re looking for options to serve at lunch or dinner, a light snack or something to indulge your sweet tooth in— trust the south Indians who’ve found ways to sneak rice into almost anything and everything. From neer dosa to pathiri, here are some of the must-try south Indian delicacies made using rice.
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