Masala Dosa

From Julie Van Rosendaal

2018 Mar/Apr

This recipe comes from Sara George, who moved to Canada 50 years ago from Kerala, India. The George family serves their dosas with sambar, a saucy vegetable stew made with lentils, okra, drumstick (a vegetable found in Asian markets), potatoes and green beans. If your batter thickens as it ferments, add a little water to give it the consistency of crepe batter or heavy cream.


Dosa batter:

  • 2 c. basmati rice (lower quality is stickier and works best)
  • c. urad dhal or black gram
  • 6-7 fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 c. cooked parboiled rice
  • 1 t. salt
  • butter or ghee, for cooking


In a large bowl, cover the rice, dhal and fenugreek with lukewarm water; set aside for 4-6 hours to soften. Drain and grind the mixture in a blender with a couple tablespoons of fresh water and the cooked rice. The blended mixture should have the consistency of pancake batter. Place in a large pot, cover and put in a warm place, like in your oven with the light on, to ferment for 6-8 hours. (It will expand, so use a large pot.) It is a good idea to place a cookie sheet under the pot in case of drips.

In 6-8 hours, mix batter well to get out all the bubbles. Add salt, which will stop the fermentation process. Dosa batter can be used now or refrigerated for up to 3 days.


Masala filling:

  • T. oil
  • t. mustard seeds
  • 2 t. urad dhal
  • t. cumin seed
  • 2 large onions, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 large piece of ginger (about 4-6 inches), grated
  • 2 lbs. peeled potatoes, boiled until tender
  • 3/4 t. turmeric


Set a large skillet or shallow pot over medium-high heat, add the oil and when it’s hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they pop, add the urad dhal and cumin. In 15-20 seconds, when the dhal turns a darker brown and the cumin becomes fragrant, add the onions and ginger. Cook until onions are soft and caramelized, then add the boiled potatoes and mash until chunky, adding the turmeric.

Heat a large skillet over high heat, and grease it well with butter or ghee. Working quickly, ladle about 1/2 c. batter onto the pan and smooth out as thin as possible in a circular motion with a large, flat spoon or palette knife. (It will thicken as it cooks.) Cook until dosa is firm, about 4 minutes, then flip and cook 3 minutes on the other side. Flip back over, add filling along the middle and fold over the sides to contain it. Serve warm, with coconut chutney and/or sambar.

The number of dosas the recipe will make depends on how big you make them. About 10.