Thursday, May 17, 2012

Recipe of the month: Mysore Masala Dosa

Ah! Masala dosa....the image itself sends my taste buds into a tizzy! Whenever I eat these dosas, I'm transported to a world of nostalgia. Masala dosa, for me, sums up all the good things about my home land - vibrant, warm, humble, comforting, satisfying and familiar. The golden-brown, crispy shell of the dosa, the fiery kick of the red chutney, the soft and creamy texture of the mildly spiced potato filling and the earthy warmth of the coconut chutney all form a harmonious symphony of textures and flavors. It is no wonder that this dish has made it to the list of '10 foods to try before you die' compiled by the Huffington post! 

My mom makes these dosas all the time and it is one among the many varieties of South-Indian 'thindi' (breakfast) that I look forward to eagerly. You always know when it is masala dosa day at home because the preparation for it starts the previous day itself. My maternal uncle is renowned for his masala dosas and my whole family would (and still do) frequently congregate at my granny's home for a generous weekend dose of his dosas. And I cannot forget to mention the mouth-watering masala dosas that we used to enjoy on Sundays at Nalpak (and more recently, SPR and MTR) in Mysore. I always make it a point to go there whenever I'm on holiday in Mysore and sink my teeth into those delicious dosas. So, as you can see, me and masala dosa have quite a bit of history!

When I moved to Singapore as a newlywed, one of the first items that I was very anxious to learn to make was dosa. At the time, I thought I was attempting something akin to climbing Mount Everest! It makes me laugh thinking about it now because it is actually quite simple and now I make it all the time. There have been several instances where I've been almost half asleep, grinding the batter at 11 pm in order to prepare dosas for breakfast that morning. The reason I can get away with such midnight dosa ventures is because I have the weather on my side....the only time I'm grateful for the hot and humid weather in Singapore is when I make idli and dosa! It aids the fermentation process greatly. Anyways, getting back to the point - back home, bulky wet grinders are used to grind the rice and dal together. I didn't have that when I came here and didn't buy one for several years. My mom told me that I could grind the rice and dal using a regular mixer-blender but she did have some concerns about how long the blender would last once I started doing that. True to her concerns, I am on my 4th or 5th blender at the time of writing this post! Fast forward to today, I can admit that using a wet grinder is better for grinding dosa and idli batter. Aside from it being heavy, bulky and a bit of a pain to clean, it is pretty easy to use, generates little heat (as compared to a blender) and results in a much fluffier batter. 

Here is my mom's recipe to make Masala dosa. In the past, I've experimented with other dosa recipes but I always come back to this one because it works the best for me. The recipe for the red chutney (the addition of which elevates it to 'Mysore Masala dosa') is adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's website.

Hope you try and love this recipe as much as I do!

Mysore Masala Dosa

Preparation time: 12-16 hours (includes soaking time and overnight fermentation time)
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves: 4-5
Recipe category: Breakfast/South-Indian
Recipe level: Intermediate
Recipe Source: Amma (Mom)


For the dosa:

1/2 cup urad dal
1 cup raw rice (I use idli/dosa parboiled rice)
3/4 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
1 cup rice flour
1/4 cup refined flour/maida
1/4 tsp cooking soda, Optional
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Ghee for drizzling

For the potato bhaji/masala:

4-5 medium potatoes (boiled and coarsely mashed)
1 large roughly chopped or sliced red onion
a few curry leaves
2-3 chopped or sliced green chillies
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
a pinch of asafoetida/hing
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 cup peas (optional)
1 bunch finely chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp lime juice
Salt to taste

For the red chutney:

5-6 dry red chillies
4-5 pods garlic
1-inch piece ginger
1/2 cup roasted channal dal (dry roast till brown)
1/2 tsp lime juice
Salt to taste

For the green coconut chutney:

1 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen; if frozen, defrost/thaw it first)
2-3 fresh green chillies
1 tsp grated ginger (if desired)
1 tbsp roasted chana dal
a small chunk of red onion
1 large bunch fresh coriander leaves
salt to taste

For the tempering of the green coconut chutney (optional)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp urad dal
1 red chilli , broken into pieces
3 to 4 curry leaves
1 tsp ghee


For the dosa:
  1. Wash the urad dal, raw rice and fenugreek seeds once and soak together for 4-6 hours
  2. Using a little water, grind these ingredients into a fine paste in a blender/grinder. In a separate container take the rice flour and maida and mix with water to form a lump-free paste (medium consistency). Pour this mixture into the grinder along with the urad dal and rice paste and grind for a few seconds until you get a homogenous mixture. The batter should be of dropping consistency. Put the batter in a big container (to allow room for fermentation). Add salt and mix well. Keep closed overnight (8 to 12 hours) in a warm place
  3. The next day the batter should have risen. Add the cooking soda and sugar (dissolved in 1/4 cup water) to the batter and mix gently. Note that the addition of cooking soda is optional. I don't add it anymore and the dosa still comes out good. Take care to not overmix. Let it stand for at least 5 min before making dosas

For potato bhaji/masala:
  1. Take little oil in a pan and mustard seeds, urad dal, a pinch of hing and curry leaves and fry till it starts spluttering
  2. To this, add sliced onions and sauté till onions turn golden brown. Add green chillies and fry for a few mins
  3. Add in the mashed potatoes, turmeric, salt, lime juice and little water and mix them well. You can also add in peas if you like. Cook for 2-3 mins
  4. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves 

For the red chutney:
  1. Boil the red chillies in a little water. Roughly chop ginger and garlic and put into the mixer jar
  2. Add chana dal, lime juice and salt. Add red chillies and grind with a little water to a fine chutney. This chutney should be a thick paste of spreadable consistency
  3. Check the taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly

For the green coconut chutney:
  1. Put the grated coconut, green chillies, ginger, roasted split gram, red onion and salt in a blender with a little water and grind to make a smooth, fine paste. Taste it and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
  2. Now add in the coriander leaves and blend. I like to see a few bits of coriander in the chutney so I stop just short of the chutney turning completely green.
  3. Prepare the tempering by heating the ghee and adding (in this order) the curry leaves, mustard seeds, urad dal and red chilli and stirring till the mustard seeds crackle and the urad dal turns golden brown. Pour this tempering over the chutney and mix well.
  4. Refrigerate and use as required.

To proceed:

1. Heat a tawa. Keep in mind that a well seasoned cast iron tawa results in dosas with the best color and texture but non-stick tawas work too. Spread the dosa batter going over in circles from the center of the tawa to the edge. Take care to not make the dosa too thick

2. Once the dosa begins to cook, spread the red chutney over the surface uniformly. Do not do this step if the batter is still raw. 

3. Continue to cook on medium to low heat until the dosa begin to turn golden brown and crisp. Do not overturn! Apply a mixture of ghee and oil around the dosa just as its done, fold into a crescent shape (or as shown in pic) and serve along with the potato bhaji/masala and coconut chutney. 
4. Serve the hot and crisp dosas immediately. I would advise you not to put them in a hot-box or pile them one on top of each other because they become soggy.

  • Soaking the urad dal and rice in warm water can reduce the soaking time
  • Take care not to add too much of fenugreek seeds or else the batter can turn bitter
  • If you live in a cold country, you can keep the batter in a closed vessel inside a pre-heated oven or microwave
  • After each dosa, turn down the heat to a minimum and wipe the tawa with a damp towel/napkin. That way, the subsequent dosa will not begin to cook as soon as the batter hits the tawa and you will have sufficient time to ladle the batter
  • I use a non-stick tawa to prepare dosas since I don't have a cast iron one. Irrespective of the type of tawa, if you notice that the dosa is sticking to the pan and you are unable to lift it, scrape off the dosa, clean the tawa and temper it with mustard seeds (with a tsp of oil). Once the mustard seeds begin to splutter, wipe them off and ladle dosas again. It should not stick this time
  • To give the red chutney a good rich color, use badige chillies. I usually use a combination of badige chillies and guntur chillies so I get the right balance of color and spice respectively
  • If for some reason, you could not prepare the red chutney, take some spiced chutney powder/chutney pudi (the MTR brand is good), mix it with a little ghee to make a paste and spread it over the dosa. It tastes great :)
  • Sambar is also a wonderful accompaniment to dosa. For a simple sambar, refer here
  • Don't fret if you have leftover batter. You can make some delicious tomato and onion utthapams the next day! 



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Woow, gr8 recipe and well written blog. Will try it today .. :)

  3. Thanks guys! Give me feedback on the outcome :)

  4. Noooooooo! Not a big fan of the red curry, What I really need to know is what is in the green sauce? Mint/pudina, I think, but what else? And can you tell me how to make the white sauce that usually comes with masala dosa? Thanks for de-mystifying this process. You have given me the courage to try it myself!

  5. Hi there....the green sauce is green because of the coriander in it. Mint can also be added for a variation but traditionally for masala dosa, coriander chutney is preferred. I have updated this post to include my recipe for green coconut chutney. I'm not sure what you mean by "white sauce". I'm assuming you are talking about plain coconut chutney - the kind of chutney without any herb in it. Just omit the coriander leaves and they chutney will be white in color. Hope this helps!

  6. hi Megha...i was looking for udipi style masala dosa and stumbled on ur blog ...the recipes are awesome...i had question regaring the variety of raw rice used it ponni or any variety wud do?

  7. Hi there....thank you for stopping by :)

    Generally for idlis and dosas, parboiled rice is used. I either buy the parboiled ponni rice or rice labelled as parboiled idli/dosa rice (which looks slightly shorter and stouter than regular rice). It is better to use short to medium grain sized rice. If you don’t have access to parboiled rice, you may use a good quality rice such as Sona Masoori. I have never used basmati rice so I'm not very sure if that will work.

    Hope this helps!

    1. Thanks Megha,
      I could find ponni parboiled rice...cant wait to try making it:)..tried methi paneer and it turned out delicious....Please post idli uttpam recipe :)

      Thanks again

    2. Hi Ratna.....I'm happy to hear you tried the Methi Paneer recipe and liked it :) I will post more South Indian breakfast recipes soon! Thanks for the support :)

  8. ahaaa...looks absolutely yummy!

  9. HI Megha,
    I tried your dosa measurement and really liked it. What I noticed is that the dosa retains it's crispiness even after slightly cooled, not making it hard.

  10. Thanks Jiah. I'm glad the recipe worked out well for u Manu :)


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