February 27, 2011

Crispy, Savory Rice Pancakes with Potato Filling — Masala Dosa

India is a land where everything from the culture to the cuisine, from the language to the dialect, from the architecture to the music is unique. The very essence of India is evident in the multitude of dishes and flavors that represent its legendary cuisine.

Masala dosa, the quintessential South Indian dish, is nothing but dosa rolled up with a tasty potato filling. Now, dosa is a crispy, delicate pancake made from fermented rice and lentils. Masala dosa is said to have originated in Udupi, Karnataka. This classic vegetarian dish served with sambar and chutney, for breakfast or dinner, captures the signature flavors of the South Indian cuisine. Did you know that the National Geographic Traveler magazine rated breakfast in Kerala — appam, iddli, masala dosa, puttu, upma — as one of the best in the world? Oh yes!

The key to making successful dosa is a good batter. The dosa batter should be thinner than that of idli batter with a slight grainy texture. The consistency? Well, not too thick, not too runny either. It should coat a spoon, but at the same time be of pouring consistency — similar to a pancake batter. In the earlier days, large basalt-stone grinders were used to make the batter. Phew, such manual labour! Today, you can make equally good batter in an electric blender. Look out for pans that are specially made for cooking dosa. A cast-iron baking stone is best for this purpose. If not, use a large shallow pan with a solid nonstick base.



1 cup basmati rice
½  cup split black gram (urad dal)
handful parboiled steamed rice
water, as needed
salt to taste
1/3 cup vegetable oil and melted unsalted butter, combined

To prepare the batter:
Place rice and lentils in a sieve and rinse well. Add enough water to soak and set aside for a minimum of 6 hours; drain. In a blender, grind the rice, lentil and steamed rice by adding enough water to form a smooth, but slightly grainy batter. With the consistency of pancake batter.

Pour into a large container that can hold up to three times the volume of the batter; season. Leave to ferment for 12 hours or overnight, covered, in a warm place until the batter has expanded to almost double its volume. In winter, it is best to leave the batter in a warm place like the oven, if you have one. Preheat the oven for a few minutes until warm; switch off; allow to cool for 5 minutes; leave the batter inside. Once the batter is well fermented, gently stir once or twice to even out the aeration.

To cook pancakes:
Heat a heavy griddle over high heat. To season the pan, spread a layer of salt, heat for 3 minutes and wife off salt using a kitchen towel. 

Reduce heat to medium for 3 minutes and very lightly grease the pan with the fat (butter and oil mixture). Test the temperature of the pan by sprinkling a bit of water. If water sizzles on contact with the pan, the temperature is right for cooking; wipe off water.

Using a flat-bottomed metal measuring cup, or a ladle, pour roughly ¼ cup of batter into the pan. Using the bottom of the cup/ladle, gently spread the batter outwards, moving in concentric circles to make a pancake about 7-8 inches in diameter. Drizzle a bit of fat on the top and around the circumference of the dosa. Cook for about 4 minutes or until the pancake is crisp and golden on the underside and cooked on the top. Use a palette knife to loosen the pancake. At this stage you can slide it out of the pan and serve immediately, if you desire, without the masala.

For making masala dosa, place the potato masala (see recipe below) along the center of the pancake and fold in sides to encase the masala in a neat roll. Plate  the dosa with the seam-side down and serve immediately with sambar and chutney.

Spiced, Mashed Potato Filling — Potato Masala

The potato masala used as a stuffing for masala dosa also goes well with any kinds of bread like chapatti, paratha, puri and roti.

4 medium potatoes, skinned and cubed
¼ cup frozen garden peas
3 medium onions, halved and finely sliced
2 tablespoon oil
pinch cumin seeds
½  teaspoon black mustard seeds
3 dry red chilies, broken
1 teaspoon split chickpeas (chana dal)
1 teaspoon split black lentils (urad dal)
12 fresh curry leaves
2 tablespoon cashew nuts, broken
2 green chilies, sliced
1 teaspoon ginger, sliced
¼ teaspoon asafetida
¾ teaspoon turmeric powder, divided
salt, to taste
water, as needed
cilantro, for garnish


Cook peas in lightly salted water per instruction on packet. Drain and set aside. Cook potatoes in a pan by adding ½ teaspoon turmeric, salt to taste and water just enough to cover the potatoes. Pound the boiled potatoes to a coarse mash; do not drain any remaining water.

Heat oil in a casserole over medium-low heat. Roast the cashews until golden; set aside. Add mustard seeds and cook until they crackle, about 30 seconds. Add cumin, split chickpeas and black gram. Reduce heat and cook, stirring, until light golden — be careful not to burn them. Then add asafetida, ginger, dry chili and curry leaves and toss gently for few seconds. Tip in cashews and then, onion. Season. Cook onion, stirring often, for about 8-10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Stir in peas, green chili and ¼ teaspoon turmeric; cook for 15 seconds. Now tip in the potatoes with the remaining water. Toss and cook for 3 minutes. The masala should be moist — add more water, if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Finally, garnish with cilantro leaves.


  1. That dosa platter looks like from a restaurant around the corner..very nicely done n presented!

    US Masala

  2. It's been ages since I had these spicy masala dosas, your recipe and pictures have really tempted me now.

  3. Yumm yumm, picture itself makes me hungry....wonderful clicks dear!!!

  4. Long time since I had masala dosa,my order would be masala dosa every time I go to restaurants in my childhood, but now it has become my child's favorite and I see him enjoying it :) Thanks for visiting my space and for the nice words,happy to follow you :)

  5. as usual tempting picture............

  6. Any time favourite! craving for these now!

  7. Made even tempting with awesome clicks. My ever favorite

  8. Woderful dosai and superb clicks..love the recipe and my all time fav.

  9. well done & beautiful click..

  10. Who wont like these delicious masal dosas..
    All time favvie...

  11. You dosa is making me drool. I'm gonna have to eat this now. Amazing shots:)

  12. Ek kadak chai or 2 Masala Dosa mere liye. Yum Yum ! Chakas Nashi :).

  13. Omg, am drooling here...wat a tempting and delicious masala dosas..

  14. love d delicious clicks...truly awesome recipe..:D
    Tasty appetite

  15. Thanks you everyone for the sweet notes and great smiles. It's always a pleasure to hear from you!

    Rajeswari, Soumya and Jay: Really appreciate your visits and lovely remarks. Thank you!

  16. looks yummmmmmmmmmmm. i didn read up the whole thing but do your dosas come out really crispy? if so how? and does this masala dosa taste like saravanas same...and sad if you haven't had it.
    good crispy write up...like your dosa!

  17. Oh yeah, the dosa came out lovely and crisp; the potato filling was delicious - I'd urge you to try it! In general, the rice lentil ratio will determine how crisy or soft the dosa will be. Add more rice for crispiness and more lentil for softness, the choice is yours. And oh, from my experience, the thava used for cooking also plays an important role in the dosa texture.

  18. who can say no to yummy crispy masala dosas...pass them over!

  19. Wonderful post..clicks r picture perfect..n lovely masala dosa..

  20. Nash I love masala dosas a lot. Your presentation is making me hungry. Love your pics a lot. Actually I have become a fan of your photograpic skills. Yummy and delicious breakfast.

  21. Wow...extremely drool worthy pics....my fav. way of dosa....

  22. wow wounderfful clicks ..masala dosa tempting..

  23. That looks so perfect and delicious..yumm yumm!!

  24. Smitha, Kalpana, Zareena, Kitchen Flavors, Charitha and Sarah: Thanks so much for your encouraging words!

  25. Truly good! The nutty flavor from the cashews is so good with the coconut chutney! Enjoyed!

    1. You make my heart happy girl, really you do! ♥

  26. Awesome clicks.. I am so happy to follow your blog :) Thanks for sharing this recipe .


A million thank you's for stopping by, taking the time to connect, and coming back to visit again. I genuinely appreciate each of your kind thoughts, lovely words, love and support. Happy, happy to hear from you, and hope to see you again!

♥ Nashi