Savoury Indian pancakes

Madhur Jaffrey loves Anita Kara's dosa wafer thin, Indian pancakes made from a fermented rice and dhal batter
Savoury Indian pancakes
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes per pancake
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes plus 8 hr soaking and 24 hr to rise
  • Effort: medium


  • 150 g urad dal
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 500 g Thai jasmine rice
  • sunflower oil, or olive oil, to cook

Tips and Suggestions

Be very careful of the blades of a food processor and never put your fingers in a food processor when it's on.

Serve with a potato filling for masala dosa


1. Wash the dal well and drain. Add the fenugreek seeds and soak in 350ml of water for 6-8 hours, or overnight.

2. Rinse the rice in several changes of water and drain. Soak it in 700ml of water for 6-8 hours, or overnight.

3. Drain the dal, but save the soaking water. Put the dal in a powerful blender or food processor. Add 4 tablespoons of the soaking water and blend for about 5 minutes, being sure to push down any dal stuck on the sides and to push out any stuck to the bottom of the blender near the blades.

5. Add another 3-4 tablespoons of water and process for another 5 minutes, or until you have a thick, light cake-like batter. It should be smooth between your fingers. Transfer to a large bowl.

6. Drain the rice, but save the soaking water. Put the rice in the same blender (you do not need to clean it). Add 240ml of the saved water and blend for 5 minutes. Again, you will need to push the rice down from the sides and make sure that no rice has collected around the blades.

7. Add another 50ml of the saved water and blend for another 5 minutes. You will end up with a slightly thinner pancake-like batter. The texture of the rice batter will not be as smooth as the dal batter, and it will feel slightly grainy.

8. Pour the rice batter into the dal batter and stir to mix. Leave the bowl loosely covered with a plate in a warm place to ferment for 24 hours. Do not disturb it.

9. The next day you will see that the batter has risen and it will have bubbles in it. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and stir it in gently.

10. When youre ready to cook the pancakes, get together a ladle (a flat-bottomed ladle is best), a measuring cup, some oil, a teaspoon, a rubber spatula and a thin wooden spatula.

11. Set a 25cm non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. When its hot, rub the surface with a piece of kitchen paper soaked in oil to grease it.

12. Using a measuring jug, pour 120ml of batter into the centre of the pan and using the back of the ladle and a very light, hovering touch, push the top of the batter out in concentric circles until the pancake is as thin as possible and about 18cm in diameter.

13. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of oil on top of the dosa and another teaspoon around its outer edge. Spread out the oil and smooth the ridges on the dosa with the spatula.

14. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the dosa is golden-red on the underside. The outer edges will have loosened from the pan and turned up a bit. If not, loosen them with the thin wooden spatula and flip the dosa over. Cook the second side for 50 seconds or so.

15. The dosa is now ready to be served. Make as many dosas as you like this way.

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