A dosa (also dosai or dosha) is a thin pancake or crepe, originating from South India, made from a fermented batter predominantly consisting of lentils and rice. It is somewhat similar to a crepe in appearance, although savoury flavours are generally emphasized (sweet variants also exist). Its main ingredients are rice and black gram, ground together in a fine, smooth batter with a dash of salt, then fermented. Dosas are a common dish in South Indian cuisine, but now have become popular all over the Indian subcontinent. Dosas are served hot along with chutney by tradition and sambar in recent times. Other accompaniments include chutney powder (a fine groundnut and lentil powder).

Dosa with sambar and chutney
Place of originSouth India
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsRice and black gram
VariationsMasala dosa, rava dosa, ghee roast dosa, neer dosa and many more


Plain dosas with condiments

Dosas originated in South India; their exact birthplace in that region is a matter of conjecture.[1] In ancient times the millets were the staple food of South Indian region and not the paddy/rice. From ancient literature, scriptures and stone edicts it can be found that the rice originated from Ancient Tamilakam. The ancient Chola Nadu region is known to be the rice bowl. Most of the present day dishes like idli, dosai, appam, pittu/puttu are referenced in the ancient Tamil Sangam literature. Rice based dishes spread to rest of the South Indian region from Tamilakam. According to food historian K. T. Achaya, dosa (as dosai) was already in use in the ancient Tamil country around the 1st century AD, as per references in the Sangam literature.[2] According to historian P. Thankappan Nair, dosa originated in the Udupi town of present-day Karnataka.[3][4]

In popular tradition, the origin of the dosa is linked to Udupi, probably because of the dish's association with the Udupi restaurants.[1] Also, the original Tamil dosai was softer and thicker. The thinner and crispier version of dosai was first made in present-day Karnataka.[5] A recipe for dosa (as dosaka) can be found in Manasollasa, a 12th-century Sanskrit encyclopedia compiled by the Chalukya king Someshvara III, who ruled from present-day Karnataka.[6]

After the Independence of India, South Indian cuisine became gradually popular in the North. In Delhi the Madras Hotel[7] in Connaught Place became a landmark that was one of the first restaurants to serve South Indian cuisine.[8] It arrived in Mumbai with the Udupi restaurants in the 1930s.[9]


Dosa with chutney and sambar with sauteed potato filling in a restaurant
Dosa served with sauteed potatoes.

Dosa is the Anglicized name of a variety of South Indian names for the dish, for example dosai in Tamil, dose in Kannada and dosha in Malayalam.

The standard transliterations and pronunciations of the word in various South Indian languages are as follows:

LanguageTransliterationPronunciation (IPA)
Kannada: ದೋಸೆdōse[d̪oːse]
Malayalam: ദോശdōśa[d̪oːɕa]
Tamil: தோசைdōsai[t̪oːsʌj]
Telugu: దోస[10]dōsa[d̪oːse]


Dosa is high in carbohydrates and contains no added sugars or saturated fats. As its key ingredients are rice and black gram, it is also a good source of protein.[11] One home made plain dosa without oil contains about 112 calories, of which 84% is carbohydrate and 16% protein.[12] The fermentation process increases the vitamin B and vitamin C content.[13] There are instant mix products for making dosa which usually contain higher levels of rice.


A mixture of rice and black gram that has been soaked in water is ground finely to form a batter. Some add a handful of soaked fenugreek seeds. The proportion of rice to lentils is generally 3:1 or 4:1. The batter is allowed to ferment overnight, before being mixed with water to get the desired consistency. The batter is then ladled onto a hot tava (griddle) greased with oil or ghee (clarified butter). It is spread out with the base of a ladle or bowl to form a pancake. It can be made either to be thick like a pancake, or thin and crispy. A dosa is served hot, either folded in half or rolled like a wrap. It is usually served with chutney and sambar. The mixture of black grams and rice can be replaced with highly refined wheat flour or semolina.


Dosa can be stuffed with fillings of vegetables and sauces to make a quick meal. They are typically served with a vegetarian side dish which varies according to regional and personal preferences. Common side items are:

  • Sambar
  • Chutney: examples include coconut chutney (a semi-solid paste made up of coconut, dal (lentils), green chilli and mint or coriander)
  • There are varieties of chutney served along with Dosa[14]
  • Idli podi or milagaipodi (in Tamil): a lentil powder with spices and sometimes desiccated coconut, mixed with sesame oil or groundnut oil or ghee
  • Indian pickles


The most popular version is the masala dosa, with a filling of the potato masala. Mysore masala is the spicier version of it. Sada (plain) is without filling; paper dosa is a thin and crisp version. Rava dosa is made crispier using semolina.[15] Newer recipes have been developed that use fusion, like Chinese dosa, cheese dosa, paneer dosa, pizza dosa and many more.[16]

Though dosa typically refers to the version made with rice and lentils, many other versions exist.

Types of dosa
Name Key ingredients
Masala dosaspiced potatoes tucked inside the dosa with red chutney smeared over the dosa.
Oats dosa healthy, crisp and lacy instant dosa made with oats.
Set dosa very spongy, soft and light, served in a set of 3 dosa per serving.[17]
Plain dosaDosa served with only chutney and sambar and no filling.
Ghee roast(Nei Dosai in Tamil) Plain Dosa cooked with Ghee instead of oil and usually with no filling.
Egg dosa(Muttai Dosai in Tamil) A thicker base of Dosa topped with beaten egg, or beaten egg is added to batter before cooking.
KaRi dosaiA Tamil Nadu specialty with a dosa of thicker base topped with cooked meat, usually chicken or mutton.
Paneer dosaspiced paneer filling inside the dosa.
Palak dosalayered with palak (spinach) paste inside the folds of dosa.
Mini soya dosa[18]soya milk and wheat flour[19]
Pesarattu (green dosa)[20]green gram[21]
Light white dosarice and coconut[22]
Kadapa karam dosa[23] Rice flour fermented overnight and mixed with sodium carbonate. The topping is a mixture of onion and chili paste (called yerra karam) and a chutney made with tomato and flour made in a gravy of curd. It is also occasionally topped with fried gram powder.[23]
Mysore masala dosa[24]rice, black gram, fenugreek seeds
Onion rava dosa[25]Semolina, rice flour
Ragi wheat dosaRagi, whole wheat flour[26]
Rava dosarava or sooji[27] (semolina)
Benne dosebutter ('benne' in Kannada) ('vennai' in Tamil)

Predominantly famous as "Davanagere benne dose" associated with Davanagere district in Karnataka.

Neer dosawatery rice batter
Vodu dose or Kappa rotiVodu dose or Kappa roti is made from rice, fenugreek seeds, grated coconut, thinly flattened rice and sometimes leftover cooked rice is also added.

It is non fermented type of dosa. It is cooked on a earthen pan that has a rounded bottom. It is fluffy and appears like a bread. It is cooked without the use of oil.

Amboli, ghavan, dhirdeIn coastal parts of Maharashtra, variations known as amboli, ghavan and dhirde (or dhirade) exist. Amboli and ghavan (like dosa) are thin rice crêpes prepared with fermented batter, while dhirde is prepared with unfermented batter.
Buttermilk dosaSemolina, maida, buttermilk[28]
Jaggery dosaRice flour, maida, grated coconut, jaggery
Garlic cheese DosaPlain Dosa with thinly chopped garlic,coriander and grated cheese as a filling -

Masala dosa

Masala dosa as served in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Masala dosa is made by stuffing a dosa with a lightly cooked filling of potatoes,[29] fried onions and spices. The dosa is wrapped around an onion and potato curry or masala.

  • Uttapam: a dosa-like dish made from the same batter. Unlike a dosa, which is crisp and unlike relatively soft crepes, it is a thick pancake mostly topped with diced onions, tomatoes, cilantro or cheese. Uttapam is sometimes characterized as an Indian pizza.
  • Pesarattu: in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, a dosa-like preparation prepared from green gram, which is typically served with a ginger and tamarind chutney
  • Adai: From Tamilnadu a dosa-like dish prepared from a combination of toor dal, rice, curry leaves, red chillies and asafoetida. The batter is not fermented. Usually eaten with jaggery or aviyal.
  • Appam/aappam/hopper: a pancake prepared from a combination of patted rice batter. The center is thicker and the outer rim is very thin. Served with sweet coconut milk.
  • Chakuli pitha: batter contains more black gram and less rice flour
  • Apam balik: made from a mixture of flour, eggs, sugar, baking soda, coconut milk and water.
  • Jianbing: dosa-like dish made in China
  • Bánh xèo: a dosa-like dish made in Vietnam.
  • Chebab: a Middle Eastern rice pancake

See also

  • List of fermented foods
  • List of Indian breads
  • List of pancakes
  • Mangalorean cuisine
  • Udupi cuisine
  • Tamil cuisine
  • Cuisine of Kerala


  1. Charmaine O' Brien (15 December 2013). The Penguin Food Guide to India. Penguin Books Limited. p. 378. ISBN 978-93-5118-575-8.
  2. K. T. Achaya (November 2003). The Story of Our Food. Universities Press. p. 80. ISBN 81-7371-293-X.
  3. P. Thankappan Nair (2004). South Indians in Kolkata. Punthi Pustak. p. 320. ISBN 81-86791-50-7.
  5. Vir Sanghvi (1 January 2004). Rude Food: The Collected Food Writings of Vir Sanghvi. Penguin Books India. pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-0-14-303139-0.
  6. K.T. Achaya (2003). The Story of Our Food. Universities Press. p. 85. ISBN 978-81-7371-293-7.
  7. Bride at Ten, Mother at Fifteen: Autobiography of an Unknown Indian Woman, Sethu Ramaswamy, Namita Gokhale Editions, 2003, 1942 and stayed in the Madras Hotel in Connaught Place
  8. Much Ado Over Coffee: Indian Coffee House Then And Now, Bhaswati Bhattacharya, Routledge, 2017
  9. 8 oldest Udupi restaurants in Mumbai
  10. "A Telugu-English Dictionary. New ed., thoroughly rev. And brought up to date...2nd ed". 1903.
  11. Srilakshmi, B. (2006) [2002]. Nutrition Science (Revised 2nd ed.). New Age International (formerly Wiley Eastern Ltd.). p. 403. ISBN 978-81-224-1633-6. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  12. "Calorie Chart, Nutrition Facts, Calories in Food | MyFitnessPal |". Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  13. Nutrition and Dietetics - Higher Secondary - First Year (PDF). Directorate of School Education, Government of Tamil Nadu. 2004. p. 31. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  14. refer the link dish-for-idli.html
  15. A Beginner’s Guide to the Great Wide World of Indian Dosa, Priya Krishna and Shailendra Krishna, October 6, 2016
  16. A Dosa Lesson From a Professional - A Good Appetite, Melissa Clark, New York Times, 6 October 2017
  17. "Set Dosa Recipe from Udupi". Udupi-Recipes. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  18. "Recipe: Mini soya dosa". The Times of India.
  19. "Mini Soya Dosa".
  20. "Healthy snack recipe: Green Dosa". The Times of India.
  21. "Pesarattu (Green Gram Dosa)".
  22. "Recipe: Light white dosa". The Times of India.
  23. "The karam dosas from kadapa". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  24. "Mysore Masala Dosa".
  25. "Onion Rava Dosa".
  26. "Ragi Wheat Dosa".
  27. "Instant Rava Dosa recipe with Video". Udupi-Recipes. June 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  28. Verma, Neera. South Indian Cook Book. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 978-81-7182-836-4.
  29. "The 5th StatEATstics Annual Report – Swiggy Diaries". Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  • Media related to Dosa at Wikimedia Commons
  • Dosa at Wikibook Cookbooks
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.