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Dosa, a South Indian breakfast dish, also known as ‘dosai,’ is made with fermented batter of rice and black gram that have been soaked overnight. Because of its Tamil origin, this dish is spelt and pronounced differently, such as dhosha, dosha, dhosai, tosai, etc., in various parts of India as well as other international countries where it is popular. This particular dish is made like a pancake or crepe that generally has a crispy feel. Dosa recipe is very popular in the Southern states of India, such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, where dosa is served with certain side dishes such as sambhar, coconut chutney, ‘malagha podi’ (spicy powder). Some people of these states enjoy this dish even for dinner. Though, traditionally this dish is either made as a plain pancake or with a filling of boiled potato vegetable, today, there are innumerable variations which include both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian fillings. However, the batter remains the same for all variations of Dosa.

Origin of Dosa Recipe
Dosa, known as dosai is of Tamilian origin, where the first reference to the dish was made by Western Chalukya king Somesvara III in the year 1054 AD. Thereafter, there is mention in the Tamil Sangam Literature in the 6th century AD. However, modern writers have a different take on the origin of the dosa recipe, which writers such as Pat Chapman, Lisa Raynor and Thangappan Nair, an Indian writer, believe originated in Udupi in Karnataka. To contradict this, eminent scientist T.K. Acharya strongly believes that Tamil Nadu was the place where around 2000 years ago, Dosa originated.

Preparation of Dosa
Dosa is prepared with fermented batter that is made of soaked rice and black gram. Both these ingredients are ground well separately and then ground together so as to whip in air into the batter. This mixed batter is set aside to ferment overnight. The process of fermentation helps the air molecules to expand in the batter, which is the basis for a perfect dosa recipe. It not only makes the dosas a little fluffy, but spreads well on the pan. The pan used for making these pancakes should preferably be flat which enables the dosa to spread well. It is important to ensure that the pan heats up very well; else the pancake can stick to the top. The golden brown color of the pancakes is a result of a few fenugreek seeds being added to the rice when it is soaked. Once ground, the fenugreek seeds mix well in the batter. These soaked and ground seeds not only give a nice color, but also give crispiness to the Dosa.

Variations of Dosa Recipe
Dosa has many variations today with fillings made of not just potatoes, but also of mixed vegetables, meats, sauces, etc. This pancake like dish is a favorite with a lot of people across Southeast Asian countries. Some popular dosa recipe variations are –
Masala Dosa – This is the most popular variation of dosa, which has stuffing of not only potato curry, but also of paneer masala, palak masala, vegetable masala, etc.

  • Onion Dosa – This is a basic dosa recipe that is made with chopped and sautéed onions spread in the middle of the pancake.
  • Open Dosa – This has a spread of chili powder all over topped with boiled potato vegetable.
  • Egg Dosa – This has an omelet spread.
  • Roast – This is a thinly spread dosa that is fried crisp.
  • Green Dosa – This is a dosa that is stuffed with vegetables and mint chutney.
  • Rava Dosa – This is made with semolina that is soaked in butter milk which does the job of giving a little sourness to the dosa, though the batter is not fermented.
  • Neer Dosa – This is made with special rice that is specific to Dakshina and Uttara Kannada and Udupi regions.
  • Uppu Puli Dosa – This is made with the regular batter, but with salt and tamarind added to it before the pancakes are spread. It is a specialty if Udupi cuisine.

Other than these, certain other popular dosa recipes are Ghee Dosa, Butter Dosa, Kerala Dosa, Paper Dosa (a thin pancake that can be spread over 2 feet), Chow-Chow Dosa (stuffed with noodles), Cheese Dosa, Masala Dosa, Methid Dosa, Mysore Dosa, Cabbage Dosa, Benne Dosa, Set Dosa, Muthai Dosa (eggs added to the batter), etc.

Nutritional Value of Dosa
Dosa is not high in carbohydrates, but also in protein. And if they are stuffed with vegetables, paneer, meat or any other filling, the nutritional value increases with an inclusion of vitamins and minerals. Dosa is ideal for people suffering with wheat allergies and gluten intolerance.

Dosa Recipe Trivia
Dosa is not only made with a batter of rice and black gram, but there are dosa recipes that are made with other ingredients such as wheat flour, millet flour, etc.