Indian Street Food Recipe Masala Dosa Recipe (Thin, Crispy Rice Pancake with Spiced Potatoes)

Indian Street Food Recipes: Masala Dosa Recipe

Many Indian culinary regions feature a version of this crêpe-like pancake, but the paper-thin masala dosa from South India are distinctive. Crispy, paper-thin, and often served with a dramatic flare, dosas (and masala dosas) are popular in the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. Commonly served at breakfast and as a popular tiffin (snack) or Indian street food. they are also known as dosé, dosai, dosay, and dhosha, and commonly served with dal soup, cooling coconut chutney (or chatni, made from coconut, lentils, green chili, and mint or coriander), vegetables, spicy sambar (a popular South Indian lentil soup), or yogurt (called curd in India) with chili powder.

Rice is very prevalent in South India, thus many South Indian batters are made from ground rice or rice paste. South Indian dosas are made with urad dal (black lentil) and ground rice; the batter is fermented overnight for flavor and fried on an oversized, piping hot griddle to form an oversized, paper-thin, crispy crêpe. Note that the batter is almost the same as the mixture used for idlis.

Regional variations of the dosa may include chickpea flour, dal flour, or wheat flour. For example, a similar dish is known as cheela in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh; poora in Gujurat and Maharastra; pullis in Bengal; and pudlas in Gujurat. Other types of South Indian dosa are rava dosa (made with semolina flour) or the Mysore dosa (like the masala dosa, but with more vegetables and hot peppers).

Homemade masala dosas are usually about 18 inches (45 centimeters) long and 10 inches (25 centimeters) wide, but restaurant ones can be much larger and showier. A well-seasoned skillet (preferably cast iron) is key, as iron distributes the heat and provides a crispy dosa crust. You can also try coating the skillet with a vegetable spray to prevent the dosa from sticking. I generally do not recommend nonstick skillets, as the finish eventually deteriorates. However, if you own one, it can be helpful for making dosas (or at least to keep them from sticking).

Be sure to allow enough lead time to start the batter—the lentils and rice should be soaked overnight and the batter needs about 24 hours of fermentation time. The fermented dosa batter can be covered and kept for several days in the refrigerator.

Note: you can also substitute ghee (clarified butter) instead of vegetable oil, if you do not need a vegan recipe.

Masala Dosa Recipe Yield:

6-8 servings

Masala Dosa Recipe Equipment

Food processor or blender
Clean kitchen dish towel
At least one well-seasoned skilled (preferably cast iron) 10 inches (25 centimeters) in diameter (several, if you have them)
1/3 cup (80 milliters) measuring cup or ladle
Wide metal spatula

Masala Dosa Batter Ingredients:

3/4 cup (150 grams) basmati or other long gram white rice, soaked overnight
3/4 cup (150 grams) split black lentils (urad dal), without skins
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) warm water
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) warm water
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) warm water
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) warm water
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) asafetida powder
1 teaspoon (4 grams) cumin
1 teaspoon salt (2 grams) salt

Masala Dosa Batter Procedure:

  1. Wash the rice several times, drain, and cover with cold water. Cover and let soak overnight, or at least 6 hours.
  2. Wash the urad dal and remove non-lentil materials. Wash and rinse the dal several times, drain, cover with cold water, and let soak overnight, or at least 6 hours.
  3. Drain the dal and place in a food processor or blender. Process for a couple minutes, slowly adding the warm water spoon by spoonful. Slowly add the rest of warm water and process the dal until the lentils are smooth and light. Transfer the ground dal to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Drain the rice and process for a couple minutes, until it forms a thick paste. Add the 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) warm water, process for a minute or so, then add the rest of the water.
  5. Add the ground rice to the ground lentils, then stir in the asafetida powder and cumin. The mixture should form a thick paste with a slightly grainy texture.
  6. Cover the batter with a clean kitchen dish towel and clean plate. Place in a warm place (about 90 degrees F/32 degrees C) until is fermented and the surface is covered with tiny bubbles (about 24 hours). Add the salt, stir to combine, and adjust the seasoning. As noted in the headnote, the batter can be made in advance and held in the refrigerator—just be sure to bring it to room temperature. Thin the batter with additional water to make a light batter.

Masala Dosa Filling Ingredients:

3/4 pounds potatoes (300 grams), peeled and cubed
2 tablespoon (30 milliliters) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon (3 grams) black mustard seeds
3/4 cup (180 grams) onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 grams) hot green chilis, seeded and finely minced
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) dried coriander
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) garam masala
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) tumeric
2 tablespoon (30 milliliters) lemon juice
1 cup (240 milliliters) vegetable oil

Masala Dosa Filling Procedure:

  1. Put potatoes in a medium-size saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are soft (about 7-10 minutes).
  2. Drain and mash potatoes with a fork or potato masher. Set aside until cool.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan (or wok or kadhai) over medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds and stir until the seeds start popping. Add the onions and green chilis, and cook until soft (about 3 minutes). Add the cooked potatoes, coriander, garam masala, and tumeric, and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes to release the flavors of the spices. Stir in the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning.

Masala Dosa Frying Procedure:

  1. Head the skillet over medium heat, then pour a spoonful of oil in the center of the skillet. Brush the excess away with a paper towel or cooking brush, making sure the skillet is very well oiled Sprinkle a few drops of water on the surface of the skillet to make sure it is ready—the water should sputter on the hot griddle surface.
  2. Pour one scoop or ladle of batter into the center of the skillet, using the back of the ladle to spread the batter in a circular motion to cover the surface, making the dosa as thin as possible. Add a little oil to the top of the dosa and around the edges, and cook over medium heat until the cooked side of the dosa is golden brown (about 3 minutes). Use a wide metal spatula to gently loosen the edges of the dosa, place some potato filling in the center, and gently fold the dosa from both sides to form a jellyroll shape.
  3. Serve immediately with chutney, or hold uncovered in a warm oven until the rest of the dosas are finished cooking.

Copyright 2013

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