South Indian Dosa – Basic Recipe

A flat pancake resembling a crepe, dosa are traditional to the South Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil cuisines but are popular all over India and beyond

Dosa are a staple in South Indian restaurants in the West. Plain or filled they come with coconut chutneys and often sambhar, a hot and sour South Indian vegetable dish which I’ll describe shortly. When in London we treat ourselves to dosa most weekends at our favourite Indian eaterie Sagar

Dosa can be made from a variety of grains and pulses, often fermented as in our urid dal – rice recipe below, and sometimes not as in rava dosa made from cream of wheat

Here’s the basic recipe for rice and washed black lentil (urid dal) dosa

making thin and crispy south indian dosa

Classic Rice & Lentil Dosa

This is a fermented batter made from two parts rice to one part urid dal (washed black lentils). These are easily available from Asian stores in major towns
The fresh batter is first used for making idly, soft fluffy steamed dumplings eaten with sambhar and coconut chutney for breakfast all over India. By the following day the batter can start to look a bit tired and is then turned to dosa
Since idly requires a special idly steamer we cut straight to the dosa – for now. Here it is
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
per dosa 4 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Appetizer, Breakfast, lunch, Snack, supper
Cuisine Indian sub-continent, Sri Lankan, street-food


  • 1 tea-cup urid dal (washed balck lentil)
  • 2 tea-cups basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 pinch salt (optional)


The Batter

  • rinse the rice and lentils and leave to soak in seperate bowls for 8 hours or overnight
  • the following day add the rice and lentils to an electric blender in batches with enough water to create a batter the consistency of thick cream
  • stir in the oil, cover and leave in the sun or a warm place all day until the batter has fermented and smells yeasty
    fermented batter for dosa and idly

Season the skillet

  • add a drop of oil to the skillet and coat the entire surface using some paper towel. Now heat the skillet to smoking point until most of the oil has burnt off. Allow the skillet to cool: drop a bit water onto the skillet or run the back of the skillet under a cold tap untill it stops sizzling
  • re-warm the skillet until a drop of water just starts to sizzle. If the pan is too hot you won’t be able to spread your dosa

Make Dosa – thin and crispy

  • drop a large spoonfull of batter onto your skillet, then with the back of the spoon spread the batter from the middle outward in a circular, spiralling motion
    making thin and crispy south indian dosa
  • turn the heat up a little and wait for a golden brown colour to start showing throught to the upper uncooked side. The dosa should now come easily away from the skillet with the help of a spatula. If it doesn’t leave it to cook a little longer
  • Dosa are cooked on one side only: remove from the skillet, fold in half and serve it to your guests right away with some coconut chutney
  • Place the back of the skillet under a cold tap to cool before making your next dosa

Make Dosa – light and fluffy

  • Drop spoonfuls of batter onto a warm skillet and allow it to spread naturally. Bubbles will form on top giving the dosa a spongy appearance
    light and fluffy south indian dosa
  • These dosa are smaller than the above and you can make several at a time if you have a large enough pan
  • The dosa is cooked when no more bubbles appear, the top has fully solidified and the base is golden and comes away from the skillet easily
  • Serve as above


These dosa fulfil the grain-pulse combo for complete protein.
It’s likely that in the cooking process some of the fermentation products will be denatured, but the fermentation will help your gut better assimilate the rice and lentils and the taste will be absolutely great
Keyword fermented, Indian, pro-biotic, pulses, rice, street-food

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