What is a Dosa? All About This Indian Crepe

Who wouldn’t be interested in a giant, crispy Indian-style crepe?! In this guide, I’m going over everything you need to know about this popular Indian street food, including: What Is Dosa, Common Dosa Ingredients, How to Make Dosa, How to Eat Dosa, and also Side Dishes for Dosa. 

Masala Dosa Platter with Sambhar and Chutney

What is a Dosa? 

In its most simple form, Dosa is very similar to a crepe and is a very popular street food in India. Dosa is famous for its simple ingredients, interesting flavors, and even its sweet aroma. I love it for how easy and clean the ingredients are. It can be eaten as a snack, as breakfast, or really anytime you’re in the mood! 

Originating in southern India, Dosa has been around since the 5th century AD. It’s said that Dosa was first referenced by Chalukya King Somesvara III in Tamil literature in 1054 AD. Like many Indian foods, Dosa has many different variations depending on region and occasion.  

Common Dosa Ingredients 

In my experience, the most common Dosa ingredients are the ones that typically make up the base, which are rice and black gram ground together with just a little bit of salt. Even though the base is somewhat simple, there are many different flavors of Dosa and, of course, different ingredients are required for each of those. Some of the most common types of Dosa are:

      • Masala Dosa
        • Made up of rice, lentils, potato, methi (fenugreek), and curry leaves. Served with chutneys and sambar.
      • Neer Dosa
        • The word neer literally means water in Tulu language, which means the batter is watery and not thick like a typical Dosa batter.
      • Rava Dosa
        • Made up of Rava (semolina), rice flour, and all-purpose flour (maida).
      • Benne Dosa
        • Benne Dosa translates to butter dosa and is made with a lot of butter and typically served with coconut chutney.
      • Cheese Dosa
        • Cheese dosa is typically prepared with fermented lentils, rice, and cheese.

Dosa making Process

How to Make Dosa 

Once you know which type of Dosa you want to make and have all of the Dosa ingredients, you’re ready to start cooking! If you’re looking to make a simple Dosa, you can follow this recipe by Veg Recipes of India:

  1. Add 1.25-1.5 cups rice flour with 3/4 cup husked black gram flour into a mixing bowl.
  2. Pour about 2.5 cups water and mix well. It must be smooth and evenly mixed into a thick battery that still flows. 
  3. Pour batter into another bowl, cover, and ferment at room temperature either overnight or for about 9-10 hours. 
  4. Once fermented add salt to taste and mix well.
  5. To make Dosa, heat an iron griddle or tava and heat up a small amount of oil.
  6. Take spoon or ladle and spread Dosa batter in circular rounds. Drizzle oil on top and sides and let one side cook.
  7. When browned, flip and cook the other side.
  8. Fold and serve hot! Use leftover batter within four to five days. 

How to Make Quick Dosa Batter 

Like many of you, I have been a mom who is always crunched on time. So I am always looking for ways to make any process faster while keeping it close to the “real deal”. 

I always keep my eyes and ears open so you get these “quick tricks” from anywhere and everywhere. This particular one I got from this dosa vendor who was catering an event at my sister’s house years ago. Now I do not make dosa batter any other way. This recipe does not ask for the fermentation process to go overnight. It is ready in a couple hours. The ingredients involved are:

  1. Rice Flour
  2. Split Urad Dal Flour
  3. Besan (chickpea flour)
  4. Baking Soda

How to Eat Dosa 

Once you’ve cooked Dosa, I’ve found that it’s best if you serve it up hot! Since Dosa is typically a street food, it’s easy to take and eat on the go. In fact, it’s customary in the Indian culture to eat Dosa with your hands! I like to tear it off and eat it in small bites. If it’s served with a dip or chutney, you can tear pieces off and dunk it into the dip or sauce before eating, or you can leave it whole and dip as you go! 

If it’s served with masala, I like to wrap the Dosa around some of the masala and eat it like a mini sandwich. I have a favorite “dosa masala” recipe that I have to share with you because without it this post on dosa can just not be complete. It’s a simple recipe of spiced potatoes that are very similar to the rustic breakfast hash we serve so often with an American breakfast. Only these potatoes have all Indian flavors but you sure can enjoy it as your “American breakfast hash”. 

So back to the ways of serving your dosa.. If it’s served with chutney, you can use a knife to spread some over your Dosa and eat it bit by bit. No matter how you eat your Dosa, make sure you enjoy every bite!

Side Dishes for Dosa 

You can serve Dosa with chutneys, sambar, masalas, or any other curries you may like. If you’re struggling with what to serve with your Dosa, look no further than some of my most favorite recipes to pair with your Indian-style crepe: 

  1. Green Cilantro Chutney 
  2. Fig Chutney 
  3. Turmeric Laced Cauliflower
  4. Easy Chicken Tikka Masala 
  5. Chana Masala 

If you’re unable to make a side or just don’t have the time, you can always eat the dosa with some hot sauce or sour cream! Eating Dosa this way is a little untraditional, but it still gets the job done and gets the stamp of approval by me. 

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