March 13, 2011

Mini Masala Dosa

I’m yet to meet a person who doesn’t love masala dosas. A light, healthy meal full of nutrients and flavour, dosas are widely popular on restaurant menus and in roadside cafés.

Ever since I was a little girl I have always associated these crispy rolls of spicy potato with family outings to a nearby vegetarian restaurant which serves ‘monster dosas’. If you hadn’t already guessed, these are gigantic versions of the South Indian speciality. When I say gigantic I’m talking over a ft long.

We didn’t always go out to eat moster dosas, sometimes we were treated to the special type of masala dosas – homemade ones.

Fresh curry leaves

On strained tiptoes, I used to peek over the stove top to watch my mother swirl the thinnest sheet of batter you’ve ever laid eyes on, as glorious mix of anxiety and hunger slowly took over my pot belly. As soon as I saw the faintest tinge of golden brown through the pancake, I’d run to pick up one of our very Indian Pyrex plates from Popat Stores in Wembley and return to collect my reward for waiting so patiently.

She would spread a layer of my father’s speciality coconut chutney on top of the rice and lentil pancake, then a tumble of spicy lemon potatoes, and slowly roll it up ready to slide onto the plate gripped with restless hands. A drizzle of chutney on top and I was ready to sink my teeth into a harmonious medley of textures and flavours.

Now, I could go all fancy-schmancy by making monster dosa for you to stun your guests into thinking you’re a domestic god/goddess – but I won’t.

1. Because I’m not a pro dosa spreader.
2. Because mini is always cuter and more convenient.

I’m good at applying justifications to my weaknesses. If you are amazing at batter-spreading please go ahead and make giant ones – they will taste great. The key is to get the filling and the chutney perfect. Always remember to add plenty of lemon, salt and sugar – they make a big difference.

After stacks of experimentation, I found that if you’re a novice and want to spread thin dosa, use a cold pan wiped with sunflower oil. The downside to this is that the colouring of the pancake is not as even as it would be if you used a hot pan.

If you’re feeling brave, try using a hot pan but ensure you spread very quickly and very evenly. Easier said than done – I know. With time the technique becomes much simpler to perfect. Here are 10 top tips:

1. Always use a flat, non-stick pan with no ridges.
2. Use half an onion, pierced onto the end of a fork to rub oil into your pan. It flavours your pancake and stops it from sticking.
3. Pour your batter into the middle of the pan with a ladle, making concentric circles outwards to spread thinly and evenly.
4. Using a cold pan? Leave the heat on high to warm up your pancake quickly. This may alter the colouring of the dosas.
5. Using a hot pan? (Good for you!) Spread quickly, evenly and as thinly as possible over a medium heat.
6. If your dosa are thicker than you’d like, try to spread them more thinly whilst on the heat, flattening as much as you can.
7. When the top of the pancake dries out, spread it with some oil using the back of a spoon to stop it drying out completely. You could then place a lid over the top of the pan if you wanted to.
8. When you start to see golden brown specks under the pancake, gently use a spatula to loosen the edges from underneath, ensuring it doesn’t break.
9. When golden, flip and cook the dosa for 5-10 seconds on the other side. Flip back and spread the uncoloured side with chutney, add filling and roll.
10. Keep remaining batter in the fridge for up to a week. You can use this to make uttapam (thick dosa with added vegetables – no need to roll).

Mini Masala Dosa

Ingredients for the batter:

200g uncooked rice
100g urad dal (split and husked black gram)
50g channa dal (split husked Bengal gram)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 small pinch bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp asafoetida
Salt to taste

You will also need:

½ an onion pierced through the top with a fork
Around 100ml sunflower oil

For the potato filling:

800g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
150g onions, roughly chopped into cubes (optional)
2 large, hot green chillies, minced (or to taste)
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp ginger, minced
50ml lemon juice
1 ½ tsp salt or to taste
2 tbsp sugar
8-10 curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp asafoetida (optional)
Handful of chopped coriander

For the coconut and coriander chutney:

5 large hot green chillies
1 small clove garlic
1 tsp ginger
80g coriander, including stalks
100g desiccated coconut
100ml coconut milk
1 tbsp sunflower oil
40ml lemon juice
2 ½ tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
120g Greek yogurt


For the potato filling:

1. Boil the potatoes in plenty of hot, salted water until tender. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the mustard seeds. Wait for them to pop, then add the asafoetida, curry leaves, onions, chillies, turmeric and ginger. Allow to cook on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the salt, sugar, lemon, and potatoes. Toss together and add the chopped coriander.

For the coriander chutney:

1. In a large bowl, soak the coconut in the coconut milk and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, blend together all other ingredients except the yogurt using a food processor or a pestle and mortar if you’re feeling energetic or have stress to relieve.

3. Mix the blended ingredients with the soaked coconut and yogurt mixture.

For the batter:

1. Mix together the rice, urad dal, channa dal and fenugreek seeds and wash 5-6 times in cold water.

2. Place them in a large bowl and cover with warm water overnight or for at least 5 to 6 hours.

3. After the soaking period discard the soaking water, reserving about 500ml.

4. Place the soaked rice, dals and methi seeds in a blender/grinder, and blend to a thick paste. The consistency of the batter should be just so that it covers the back of a spoon. Add a little bit of the reserved soaking water to help with the blending/grinding process. Blend/grind the batter to a degree where it’s grainy – this is what’s going to make your dosas crispy.

5. Place the dosa batter in an extra large bowl, and put the bowl on top of a tray to catch the batter the fermentation becomes too aggressive. Cover loosely and ferment overnight.

6. The next day, add salt, asafoetida and bicarbonate of soda, whisk lightly. It is important to add salt at this stage and NOT before as salt retards the fermentation process.

I created the slideshow below to illustrate the dosa making process. To see it in all its glory press play, hover over the slideshow and click the bottom right button to enlarge to fullscreen mode. Then click the top right ‘show info’ button to see my commentary.


To make the dosas:

1. Heat a non-stick frying pan/hotplate, take half the onion which has been pierced with a fork and dip it lightly into the oil to grease the hotplate.
2. Take half a ladle-full of the batter- we are using half because here, at KO Rasoi we like our dosas party-size and cute. If you want to make bigger dosas use a full ladle and spread a larger pancake.
3. Spread the batter in a circular motion, starting from the inside swiftly.
4. When the top becomes dry, take about a ¼ tsp of oil and spread it gently over the dosa with the back of a spoon or spatula.
5. When the back of the dosa catches a golden colour place about a spoonful of the chutney on top and spread it out. Then, add some of the potato mixture into the middle of the pancake and fold the dosa from one side and roll.
6. Take the dosa off the pan/hotplate place on a plate and serve with coconut chutney.

You could also serve this with a finely diced salad of tomatoes, spring onions, coriander, a dash of lemon, a pinch of sugar, a pinch of cumin powder, and some salt. If you want to go authentically South Indian, top it of with a ladle-full of sambhar (a thick daal with vegetables). The dosa pancake is just a carrier for an array of fillings you cook up. We often fill them with lentils, vegetables and paneer, then serve with a variety of chutneys.

I don’t know about you but I could eat masala dosa for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My family love to have masala dosa parties where we invite all 50-70 family members over to dig in to dosas – yeah, I have a huge, loud and hungry family. These mini dosas are perfect for such occasions so why not try these and invite your family and friends over? Just don’t forget my invite.

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28 responses to “Mini Masala Dosa”

  1. Saint Bapu says:

    love it sanju with your tutorials. surely gonna make i without my better halfs help.

  2. Priya says:

    They looks soo cute and inviting, makes me hungry even after having my dinner..

  3. Sayali says:


  4. Turmericnspice says:

    sooo cute…my all time fav i can eat md everyday and everymeal….just ate my dinner and can eat it even now :):)

  5. Sharmilee! :) says:

    Perfect masala dosas out there…looks very tempting adn beautiful clicks

  6. Kankana says:

    I think I have to make them again sometime soon. I love masala dosa, all the time ๐Ÿ™‚ with hot sambar and spicy chutney .. mmm mmm mmmm

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for taking the time for the pictorial tutorial – I, for one, can live on masala dosa and never tire of it. I however shy away from making it at home and usually just settle for uttapam. Thanks again – I love your recipes, writing, and cooking!

  8. Prathibha says:

    Love masala dosa..loved ur description..looks really yumm

  9. Mr. P says:

    Argh, I would never be able to make these. Ever. I do love them though.

  10. Mina Joshi says:

    The masala dosas are perfect looking. Love the potato filling too!

  11. The Mom Chef says:

    I'm so intrigued by these. They look like version of the crepe, no? Your instructions are so good I'm half tempted to put aside my fears of trying these! I LOVE the sound of the coconut chutney!

  12. Vaishali Sharma says:

    Lovely and cute Masala dosa's. They are my favorite. I usually make the big ones…but these little cute ones just stole my heart away…awww (had to express :P)

  13. Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal says:

    Beautiful, cute and perfect looking dosas ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Hester aka The Chef Doc says:

    These look so wonderful! I've never had dosas before; I wonder where I can get some around here in Southern California.

  15. Anonymous says:

    As a Tamilian who has been eating homemade dosas all my life, and making them myself for over 20 years, may I provide some additional hints?
    The trick to good dosas (thin or thick) is in the quality and proportion of raw rice and urad dal. Easy rule of thumb- 1 quantity urad dal to 4 of raw rice for dosa (ie less dal than is used for idli). Adding some parboiled rice (ukda chawal) improves taste and colour, and parboiled rice needs less urad dal. Everyone has their own rule, mine is:
    6 measures of parboiled rice
    4 measures of raw rice
    2 measures of urad dal
    Try to use whole urad dal without skin, if it is not available then normal urad dal would do.
    To the above, add 1-2 tsp of methi seeds- this also naturally browns the dosas on cooking.
    Nothing else is essential, in fact even methi seeds are not essential- my grandmom liked white dosas, and would omit the methi.
    If you want a glassy edge to the dosas, then you may add 2 tsp toor dal OR 1 tsp sugar- nothing more- this is usually done for masala dosas but not for the plain ones.
    Soak both rices and methi the previous night. Urad dal should soak only for 30-45 mins before grinding- you may use hot water to soak the urad dal. BTW a grinder makes better dosas (and idlis) than blenders- this is why south indians lug their grinders everywhere they go.
    Grind all together WITH salt- adding salt in fact helps the batter to rise/sour more quickly. So does a warm and muggy day! No soda, nothing else needed. If the batter is well risen, dosas will flip easily.

    To get thin dosas: just thin the batter with water. How thin- use trial and error till you get it right. Even south indians tear a lot of dosas before they learn to get it right, so dont be fearful! Also, for thin dosas, go outside in, ie pour concentric circles from the outside and fill in as you go in (for thick dosas or uttappams, pouring in the middle is better). Just a tsp of oil on the outside, no need for oil OVER the dosas. If the batter is well risen and proportions are right, the edge would LIFT by itself and you can flip it easily. No need for oil for the second side. Both sides are usually well cooked before chutney, curry are added to make a masala dosa.

  16. foodblogandthedog says:

    These look so beautiful I really want to try! I have a feeling the first ones will be a disaster like pancakes though!! Congrats on Top 9!!

  17. muppy says:

    I absolutely love dosa, especially paneer, yum. These look so good.

  18. Priya Sreeram says:

    lovely! congrats on being featured in Top 9 of Food Buzz

  19. chefpriyanka says:

    yummy! your chutney looks really good and I love your pictures! We just had Rava Dosa this past weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Sanjana says:

    Thanks all, your feedback is really great ro read. Anonymous- I appreciate you taking the time to share your tips with us. They are wonderful. I only wish you had left your name so that I can ask for tips myself!

  21. Sortachef says:

    Ever since having dosas at the Kayal in Leicester last year, I've wanted to make them. Thanks to you, your great tutorial (love the slideshow!) and your commentors, I'm ready to rock and roll. Much obliged!

  22. Hovkonditorn says:

    What a lovely recipe and thanks for the tips ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Trix says:

    If my crepe-making hit-to-miss ratio is any indication, I will definitely stick with the tiny version of this! That way, I can eat many many more without guilt … right? Tummy rumblingly good as always!

  24. Joanna says:

    Hello Sanjana a friend of mine saw my first dosa post and said you had a great blog all about them and he was right! Mine can only get better I hope. What's the story about the fermentation and the salt. One person says the salt slows the fermentation down and another says add it? In bread making, salt slows down yeast development, but presumably the fermentation that occurs here is of the lacto bacterial kind, if that makes sense. Either way, I think I need to work on my spreading technique, so to read your suggestion about using a cold pan was very eye-opening! Thanks and best wishes Joanna

  25. Sarah Walton - The Hedonista says:

    Excellent! I've been meaning to give them a go for some time. You just might have spurred me on!

  26. Farida says:

    Great masala, why that by name with "dosa" ? and look so yummy.


  27. One Food Guy says:

    Oh how I love thee dosa. I had my very first dosa in Chennai, India four years ago and have had a love affair with them ever since. The masala dosa continues to be my favorite but a small shop in Boston makes a peking duck dosa that is pretty great.

    Your post makes the process of making dosas so much less intimidating, I'm going to have to try my hand at homemade dosas soon! Thank you!

  28. Puja Patel says:

    “A nearby vegetarian restaurant which serves โ€˜monster dosasโ€™. Was it by any chance Chennai Dosa?
    Anyways, I am definitely going to try out this recipe…just looking at the pictures is making my mouth drool!
    Thank You:)

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