Unveiling the Secrets of Masala Dosa: A Delectable South Indian Delight

Nov 7, 2023 | Main Courses


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In the bustling streets of South India, the tantalizing aroma of sizzling dosas fills the air, carrying with it the rich history and vibrant flavors of this beloved dish. Masala dosa, in particular, has woven itself into the fabric of Indian cuisine and captivated the palate of food lovers worldwide. Today, I invite you to join me on a culinary adventure as we delve into the secrets of creating the perfect crispy and thin fermented rice and lentil crepe, filled with a fragrant spiced potato filling. Served with chutneys and a hearty lentil soup known as sambar, this dish is both satisfying and sublime.

Masala Dosa


For the Dosa Batter:
– 2 cups of raw rice
– 1 cup of urad dal (split black gram lentils)
– 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
– Water (for soaking and grinding)
– Salt (to taste)

For the Potato Filling:
– 4 medium-sized boiled potatoes, peeled and roughly mashed
– 1 tablespoon oil (preferably coconut or vegetable oil)
– 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
– 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
– 1 teaspoon split black gram lentils (urad dal)
– 1 teaspoon Bengal gram lentils (chana dal)
– 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
– 1-2 green chilies, finely chopped (adjust according to your spice preference)
– 1 sprig curry leaves, roughly torn
– 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
– Salt (to taste)

For the Chutneys:
– Coconut Chutney:
– 1 cup freshly grated coconut
– 2 green chilies
– 1 tablespoon roasted chana dal (split roasted chickpeas)
– 1-inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
– Salt (to taste)
– Water (as needed for blending)

– Tomato Chutney:
– 3 medium-sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
– 1 small onion, roughly chopped
– 2-3 garlic cloves
– 2 dried red chilies
– 1 tablespoon oil
– 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
– Salt (to taste)

For the Sambar (Lentil Soup):
– 1/2 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
– 2 cups water
– 1 small onion, finely chopped
– 1 medium-sized tomato, finely chopped
– 1 drumstick, cut into pieces (optional)
– 1 small carrot, diced
– 1 small brinjal (eggplant), diced
– 2 tablespoons sambar powder (available at Indian grocery stores)
– 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
– 1 teaspoon tamarind pulp
– Salt (to taste)
– Water (as needed)


1. Dosa Batter:

– In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice, urad dal, and fenugreek seeds. Rinse thoroughly and soak in water for at least 4-5 hours, or overnight.
– After soaking, drain the water and transfer the ingredients to a blender or wet grinder. Grind to a smooth paste by gradually adding water and a pinch of salt.
– Once the batter reaches a thick, smooth consistency, transfer it to a large container and let it ferment for 8-10 hours or overnight. The batter should rise and become airy.

2. Potato Filling:

– Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and allow them to splutter. Then add cumin seeds, urad dal, and chana dal. Stir until the lentils turn golden brown.
– Add onions, green chilies, and curry leaves. Sauté until the onions turn translucent.
– Sprinkle turmeric powder and mix well. Then, add the boiled and mashed potatoes. Season with salt and mix until the spices are well-incorporated. Cook for a few minutes and set aside.

3. Chutneys:

– Coconut Chutney:
– In a blender, combine grated coconut, green chilies, roasted chana dal, ginger, and salt. Blend until you achieve a smooth paste, adding water as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl.

– Tomato Chutney:
– Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add dried red chilies, onions, and garlic. Sauté until the onions turn golden brown.
– Add the tomatoes and cook until they soften. Then, add tamarind pulp and salt. Stir well and cook for a few more minutes.
– Allow the mixture to cool, then blend it into a smooth paste in a blender. Transfer to a serving bowl.

4. Sambar (Lentil Soup):

– Rinse the toor dal thoroughly under running water. In a pressure cooker or pot, cook the dal with water until it becomes tender and mushy. Mash the dal with a spoon and set aside.
– In a separate pot, heat oil and sauté onions until they become translucent. Add tomatoes and cook until they become soft.
– Add the drumstick, carrot, brinjal, sambar powder, turmeric powder, tamarind pulp, and salt. Mix well and cook for a few minutes.
– Add water, cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through and the flavors meld together.
– Finally, add the mashed dal to the pot and let it simmer for another few minutes. Adjust the consistency by adding more water if desired.


5. Making the Masala Dosa:

– Heat a flat non-stick griddle or a seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, pour a ladleful of dosa batter onto the center of the griddle and spread it in a circular motion, starting from the center and moving outward.
– Drizzle some oil around the dosa and let it cook until the edges turn golden brown and crisp. Carefully flip the dosa and let it cook for another minute.
– Place a spoonful of the potato filling in the center of the dosa, fold it over, and gently remove from the griddle.

Masala Dosa

– Serve the masala dosa hot with coconut chutney, tomato chutney, and sambar. Enjoy the contrasting flavors and textures.

Tips and Variations:

– For an even crispier dosa, spread a thin layer of ghee (clarified butter) on the dosa before flipping.
– You can add grated cheese or paneer (Indian cottage cheese) to the potato filling for a decadent twist.
– Feel free to experiment with different chutney variations. Mint chutney or peanut chutney are delightful accompaniments to the dosa.
– If you don’t have access to pre-made sambar powder, you can make your own by blending roasted spices like coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and dried red chilies.
– Leftover batter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days to make more dosas later.

As you embark on this culinary journey, remember that the art of making masala dosa lies not only in the ingredients but in the passion poured into every step. Allow yourself to get lost in the flavors and aroma of South India, and savor the magic being created in your kitchen. As a food lover, I’m certain that this exotic creation will become a cherished part of your culinary repertoire. Bon appétit!

Masala Dosa

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